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Friday, December 21, 2012

Pilot Michigan's NEW Interim Assessments

Michigan's Bureau of Assessment and Accountability (BAA) is pleased to announce the launch of a new assessment program, the Michigan Interim Assessment Program.  

These new assessments will be online, pre-post assessments to be given at the beginning of a grade/course and end of a grade/course.  These assessments may also be used as one possible measure of student growth.  The Michigan Interim Assessment Program includes grade 3 – high school assessments in science and social studies, which are aligned to Michigan’s current Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs) and High School Content Expectations (HSCEs).  Additionally, the Michigan Interim Assessment Program includes Kindergarten through 2nd grade and high school course-based assessments in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Michigan educators will play a critical role in assisting BAA in the development of the Michigan Interim Assessment at all grade levels and content areas.  The first opportunity to experience these new assessments for teachers and students in grades 3 through high school is pilot testing in science and social studies, which will take place in April and May 2013.  

The pilot science interim assessments include grade 3 – 7 grade level assessments, and Earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics high school course-based assessments. The pilot social studies interim assessments include grade 3 – 8 grade level assessments, and U.S. history and geography, world history and geography, civics, and economics high school course-based assessments.

The minimum technology requirements for the online assessments include
Apple                                                                                                  Windows           
·        MAC OS X® 10.5 – 10.8                                                         Windows XP®   or 7
·        256 MB of RAM or greater                                                      256 MB of RAM or greater
·        1024x768 or greater screen res                                             1024x768 or greater screen res
·        10 MB hard disk space                                                             100 MB hard disk space
·        400 MHz processor                                                                  700 MHz processor

To participate in the Michigan Interim Assessment pilots, please complete this survey by Friday, January 18, 2013.
Districts may have several buildings participate but each building must register by completing the survey.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Four Smarter Balanced Updates

There are four updates to share

  • Release of Preliminary Test Blueprints
  • Network Bandwidth Checker Available for Schools
  • Review Period for Feedback on Draft Initial Achievement Level Descriptors and Overview Webinar
  • Pilot Test Participation Update

Release of Preliminary Test Blueprints
The Smarter Balanced Governing States have approved the preliminary test blueprints describing the content of English–language arts/literacy and mathematics summative assessments for grades three through eight and high school. The preliminary test blueprints reflect the depth and breadth of the performance expectations of the Common Core State Standards and how that content will be assessed. The full document is available. 

Network Bandwidth Checker Available for Schools
Smarter Balanced has launched an online tool to help schools check the bandwidth of their network in preparation for the assessments. The bandwidth checker is compatible with Mozilla Firefox on computers with Windows, OS X, or Linux operating systems; Safari on tablets using the iOS operating system; and Chrome on tablets using the Android operating system. The bandwidth checker cannot be accessed using Internet Explorer. The bandwidth checker and instructions are now available.

Review Period for Feedback on Draft Initial Achievement Level Descriptors and Overview Webinar
The public comment period for the Smarter Balanced draft achievement level descriptors runs through January 15, 2013. The draft achievement leveldescriptors and online survey for providing feedback are available. Smarter Balanced hosted a public webinar on December 17 to provide an overview of achievement level descriptors. A recording of thispublic webinar is available.
Selection of Schools for the Pilot Test
Smarter Balanced has identified schools for the scientific component of the spring 2013 pilot test. The scientific component will target a representative sample of schools to yield critical data about the items developed to date as well as how the test administration system is functioning. These schools were contacted by Smarter Balance on December 4.

All schools in Smarter Balanced states can participate in the pilot test by registering for the volunteer component of the pilot test. Participation in the volunteer component will allow schools to administer a version of the assessment with released test questions and will ensure that all schools have the opportunity to experience the basic functionality of the test administration system.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Smarter Balance has released initial Achievement Level Descriptors (ALD)

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) has released draft initial achievement level descriptors (ALDs) for feedback and review through January 15, 2013. Developed by K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, and content experts, the initial ALDs describe levels of student performance in English language arts/literacy and mathematics on the Smarter Balanced assessments.
The Smarter Balanced system of ALDs is based upon four levels of achievement that describe whether students have demonstrated 

  • “deep command,” 
  • “sufficient command,” 
  • “partial command,” or
  • “minimal command” 
of knowledge, skills, and processes across the two assessed content areas of English language arts/literacy and mathematics. 
Governing States are expected to adopt the initial ALDs in March 2013. A full description of the ALDs, the college content-readiness definition and policy framework, and an online survey for providing feedback are now available.

Why should I check out the ALDs?

  • Teachers: the ALDs provide descriptions of the levels of thinking and complexity that students need to have to be successful on the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessments. These ALDs can help you to make the instructional shifts required by the Common Core
  • Administrators: since the ALDs provide descriptions of the levels of thinking and complexity that students need to have to be successful on the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessments, they can help you define what to look for in good mathematics instruction in your classrooms.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Common Core Resource for Middle School Math

Real World Math, a new NCTM online resource for middle-grades mathematics teachers, connects math to the real world. With more than 150 articles, lesson plans, and activities that have been carefully selected from NCTM’s renowned middle grade and high school journals, Real World Math is a valuable resource that can truly help engage students. Each article is accompanied by lesson plans to help you structure lessons, along with activity sheets that can be edited or reproduced for classroom use. In addition, applets supplement some articles, allowing students to actively explore concepts by using technology. 

Michigan's other new assessment consortium: Dynamic Learning Maps

The DLM project is guided by the core belief that all students should have access to challenging grade-level content. The new DLM alternate assessment system will let students with significant cognitive disabilities show what they know in ways that traditional multiple-choice tests cannot. The DLM system is designed to map a student’s learning throughout the year. The system will use items and tasks that are embedded in day-to-day instruction. In this way, testing happens as part of instruction, which both informs teaching and benefits students. An end of the year assessment will be created for states that want to include a summative test in addition to the instructionally embedded system.

To help educators understand the Common Core State Standards and the corresponding Common Core Essential Elements and their application to students with significant cognitive disabilities, the Dynamic Learning Maps Assessment Consortium has created and will continue to provide self-directed learning modules. Each of the interactive modules is short (30-45 minutes on average) and focuses on a single topic. Three learning models have been created so far. You can access these modules by clicking on the following link:
or by going to the Dynamic Learning Maps page located on the MI-Access web page at
When you select a learning module, please be certain to complete the information regarding your name, school, and state. If you have questions about these modules, please contact
Module 1: Common Core Overview
Description: This self-directed module provides an introduction to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics for teachers who work with students with significant cognitive disabilities who will complete the alternate assessment.
Module 2: Common Core Essential Elements
Description: This self-directed module provides an introduction to the Essential Elements that were developed by the Dynamic Learning Maps Consortium to provide links between the Common Core State Standards and grade specific expectations for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
Module 3: Universal Design for Learning
Description: This self-directed module provides an introduction to Universal Design for Learning as it relates to the Common Core State Standards and students with significant cognitive disabilities.
A link to the updated video titled "Essential Elements Overview Module" is also now available on the MI-Access Website under the Dynamic Learning Maps link.  There were audio problems in the original version, which have been corrected in the new version.  You can also access the updated video by clicking on the following link:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Enroll in a National K-5 Reading and Math Study and Receive Free Resources and Professional Development

SEDL is conducting a study of McGraw- Hill’s SRA Imagine It! Today’s Open Court, a reading program, and Everyday Mathematics® to determine the programs’ impact on teacher practices and student academic achievement over a 2-year period.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, the SEDL study is be the first rigorous, independent large-scale evaluation of either program. The findings of this study will help give policymakers, researchers, and educators a better understanding of each program.
Who Is Eligible?
We are looking for districts with two or more elementary schools that are willing to implement either program, SRA Imagine It! or Everyday Mathematics.® In addition, participating schools need to

  • have classrooms of students in grades K–5, with at least 44 students in each of these grades and
  • have not used SRA Imagine It! or Everyday Mathematics® since the 2010–2011 school year.
How Will You Benefit?

  • Participating schools will receive FREE SRA Imagine It! or Everyday Mathematics® textbooks, supplemental materials, teacher guides and access to online resources.
  • Participating schools will also receive FREE professional development at your school and support to implement the programs for the duration of the study!
  • Participating schools are taking action that may increase overall performance on state-mandated reading and math assessment and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Participation Requirements
If your district participates in the study, approximately half of the eligible participating schools will be randomly assigned SRA Imagine It! and half will be randomly assigned Everyday Mathematics®. Each school will receive free materials for its assigned program, including textbooks, supplementary materials, teacher’s guides, and access to online resources. In addition, each school will receive free professional development, including 1-day launch and three follow-up visits from trainers during each year of the study. Schools will be asked to use the assigned program as their core curriculum for that subject.

The study will last 2 years. Districts that join the study now will begin implementation in the fall of 2013 and participate until the end of the 2014–2015 school year. A school assigned to implement Everyday Mathematics® will agree not to purchase and implement the SRA Imagine It! for the 2-year duration of the study and vice versa. However, participating schools may purchase additional materials for their assigned curriculum to supplement the core materials and trainings provided by the study.

If you would like more information or wish to nominate your district or school, please contact project director Sarah Caverly at 800-476-6861 or email