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Statewide Curriculum and Assessment Project Update
Wednesday, March 02, 2016
January 2016 Regents Week Instructor Convening
A total of 135 Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers from across the state converged at the Radisson Hotel in Albany during the last week of January to continue their efforts in unifying CTE assessments and curriculum for all 35 BOCES in New York.
Their efforts began a few years ago as a result of a charge given by the District Superintendents Curriculum and Assessment Committee representing all BOCES to develop a statewide plan for constructing and implementing assessments that adhere to the requirements of teacher evaluation. As an outgrowth of the charge provided by the District Superintendents, the Leadership Team has begun the process of developing curricular elements that match the content of the assessments.
Teachers have a stake in the process of creating assessments because they are well positioned to understand the curricular priorities associated with CTE programs and have a keen awareness of industry requirements facing students upon completion of CTE programming. “This process empowers CTE teachers to be in charge of the design and implementation of the testing. It’s good to get everyone together to come up with the common themes,” said Sean Mahon, an eight-year veteran CTE instructor of Information Technology from Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery (HFM) BOCES. This was his second year in attending the three-day assessment development and training session.
On Wednesday, CTE teachers representing 16 CTE content areas gathered in one room, the Lead Director of the project, Doug Leavens, asked, “Why are we doing this?” After much feedback and discussion, Mr. Leavens offered, “We’re doing this work, not only to create assessments that are used for APPR, but equally important, for all teachers to share ideas from across the state to create a unified core curriculum elements that match the assessments under development.” Leavens, the CTE Director from the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, explained that unifying CTE across the state to speak in one voice also allows policy makers to see that CTE expects similar outcomes regardless of where students are being educated. This “unification” work sends a powerful message to key decision-makers that they can establish solid policies for CTE and not worry that students are developing different levels of competence solely based on where they live. He congratulated the teachers on their work over the past three years as they identified priority content areas, developed items for assessments and reviewed product from their peers. He finalized his comments by noting that “The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has already approved 20 of our assessments,” and “that it is remarkable to have that many collaboratively developed assessments approved so quickly.”
Consultant and Coordinator of the project, Katie Jones, added, “Additional content area assessments will be submitted once these assessments are field tested and piloted in the spring.” It was under the direction of the Leadership Team that Mrs. Jones (project consultant) implemented steps teachers used to develop priority content for the assessments. She explained to the group that the psychometrician looked at the questions on the tests and they now have a bank of approved items. She is looking for more teachers to pilot assessments in order to have more of them on the approved list. This year, Mrs. Jones said teachers continued to work on refining assessments and they will continue to meet regularly to keep assessments fresh and current.
After meeting with the whole group, teachers moved to different areas to work with their peers in their content area. Cheryl Richardson, an Early Childhood Education teacher from WSWHE BOCES, said her group was concentrating on writing additional questions. She commented on the opportunity to meet with other CTE teachers by stating, “We look forward to meeting with each other, getting ideas, and working toward alignment across the state. It’s interesting to hear that someone from Buffalo and someone from Long Island came up with the same information. While the classrooms may be different, the competencies are the same.”
Meanwhile, unifying the CTE curriculum was also being discussed at another session during the week with a representative group of teachers. A draft template for curriculum development was handed out to the teachers and a comprehensive description was provided to create understanding. Once this was completed, the teachers were asked to provide feedback about what they saw for use by the Leadership Team so as to establish a process for this part of the project. Rebecca Gihr, an Early Childhood Education teacher from Orange-Ulster BOCES, summarized for the group, “The competencies that the teachers came up with last year need to be as unified as possible on content that all teachers cover.” Yet, the curriculum still leaves room for personalized content that is specific to content areas and regions.