The Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Office of Accountability team of Cliff Eichel, Emily Cole-Bayer, Christina Miller and Karen Peters will present “The Little District That Could: How a Mid-Size District Implemented a Balanced Assessment System” at the National Conference on Student Assessment in June. The conference is organized annually by The Council of Chief State School Officers and presenters must submit presentation topics months in advance. A limited number of presentations are accepted for inclusion at the conference.
At the conference set for June 28-30 in Austin, Texas, the Office of Accountability team will present to more than 1,000 attendees. This is the first time the team will present at the national level. All four staff members manage school system presentations and professional development sessions, as well as present at the state level. The presentation will feature how CCPS manages assessments to better support teaching and learning.
Eichel is the Director of Accountability and oversees assessments for CCPS. He has worked in the area of research and assessment for more than 20 years. In her role as Coordinator of Formative Assessment, Miller provides professional development sessions for teachers and school administrators to provide ideas and training for use in the classroom with students. Peters is the Coordinator of Testing and oversees interim and accountability assessments. Cole-Bayer is the Coordinator of Evaluation and manages the assessment evaluation piece to ensure teachers have the tools and knowledge to determine where gaps in student learning occur.
The presentation will feature the school system’s implementation of a balanced approach to assessments and its goal to change the way community stakeholders view testing. The CCPS assessment system uses benchmarks, classroom formative assessment and summative assessments to measure instruction and student performance. Examples of formative assessment in the classroom ranges from discussions, small group lessons and learning games to homework problems, warm-up activities, and use of Smart Boards for question and answer sessions. Formative assessment helps teachers in the ongoing process of analyzing a student’s understanding of content or a subject, and determining areas where lessons can be focused to allow students to better grasp the curriculum.
Summative assessments are those that measure comprehension over a longer period, such as at the end of a unit. Summative assessments help teachers determine a student’s final grade at the end of a marking period, quarter and school year. Examples of summative assessments range from graded homework assignments, tests and quizzes to reports, essay submissions and class projects. Teachers use both summative and formative assessments to determine how well a student is doing in class.
New this school year to CCPS is the District Committee on Assessment that includes teachers, school administrators and parents. The committee meets monthly and is working to review Maryland’s use of assessment and testing in public schools. The committee is also discussing recommendations for monitoring, evaluating and communicating the school system’s assessment programs.
“Our biggest challenge is defining assessment for our stakeholders,” Miller said. “Often times when people hear assessment, they think of a paper/pencil or computerized, multiple choice assessment. Our goal is to build capacity with our stakeholders so they understand the different types of assessments we use – mainly formative assessment.”
To assist with better using a balanced approach to assessments, CCPS also participates in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Formative Assessment for Maryland Educators (FAME) program. The focal point of the yearlong program is to provide teachers with additional tools and strategies to use in the classroom to enhance student learning and comprehension.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.