This week we are sharing stories from Ohio teachers who use Edcite for AIR®-alignment. Read our Q & A below to learn how a biology teacher in Bellefontaine, Ohio has been using Edcite.
What is your name?
What is your job title? Where do you work?
HS Biology teacher, Benjamin-Logan High School
How long have you been using Edcite?
Edcite had only [been around] for a year, and I heard about it at a professional development meeting for the upcoming biology AIR® test. I started creating questions and tests that summer to use in my class so that my students would be prepared for the Biology End-of-Course Exam given by Ohio. I am going on four years using Edcite, and I love it.
What problem does Edcite solve for you?
Edcite allows me to quickly see what questions students are having trouble with. I can then check whether it was how I wrote my question or whether it was their knowledge. I also use Edcite for pre-tests to get pre and post data.
What else would you like to share?
Edcite has allowed me to reach my goals for students scoring higher on end-of-course exams without “teaching to the test.”
Thank you, Joslin, for your Edcite Story! Teachers, you can check out some of Joslin’s assessments below. Make copies for your class or use them as inspiration to create your own assessment on Edcite!
Joslin shared her Edcite Story with us, and so you can you! We publish Edcite Stories so that educators can learn about different ways Edcite is used in schools and school districts. If you want to submit your own Edcite story, fill out our form.
Kevin shared his Edcite Story with us, and so you can you! We publish Edcite Stories so that educators can learn about different ways Edcite is used in schools and school districts. If you want to submit your own Edcite story, fill out our form.
If only they would release more assessment items! If I just knew what the test looked like. It’s always a moving target—it always changes! Who are those writers anyways? They are just biased and don’t know anything about kids. If only the kids had a way of practicing….
Have you figured out what I’m describing yet? Those statements are all complaints that I have heard regarding Ohio’s Assessment system, all within the last week. While I believe there to be no state system out there that is flawless, and while ours, perhaps arguably, has issues that need to be addressed, there is one thing that I am positive of. It’s time to get on the proverbial professional development school bus and adjust that mindset…you can conquer the test.
Before I show you how, I want to remind you about the heart of what we do as educators—student learning—which is anchored around three interrelated areas. Curriculum / assessment / instruction always exist in relationship to one another; they are not separate from one another, and they can’t exist without each other (Pelligrino, Chudowski, & Glaser, 2001). For any Deweyian scholars out there, this is the transactional relationship at best (Ryan, 2011). For the non-nerds out there, it’s the concept of a store without customers. The store does not exist because it has no customers and the customers don’t exist because there is no store. The same exists in the classroom—we can’t teach without finding out what kids know and if we don’t know what kids know, we can’t teach. Assessments, no matter what their form (an oral question for example), are proof that somebody (a student) knows something (that the teacher has taught).
Since assessment is integral to what we do in classrooms, we must have a vision for it— in other words, if we want to conquer the test, we need to start first with vision (that’s Step 1 to conquering the test). Vision as Manasse (1986) describes it is the force that gives meaning and purpose to the work of an organization. It inspires commitment for the future as it explains who is involved and what they plan to accomplish, and explains the importance for the growth. As Pejza (1985) cogently stated, it’s a “hunger to see improvement.”
I remember this like it was yesterday. It was almost four years to the day. I was walking with one of my thought partners (Stanny, 2012) down the Short North in Columbus during a lunch break on one of the coldest days ever that winter. We were shooting the breeze about everything educational, and I remember that this friend and colleague was challenging me on my thinking process about where I wanted my district to go. I was shopping for assessment products, as we had had a bit of an assessment crisis in my district, and I realized very quickly that I needed to envision what it was that I wanted our team to accomplish. What was going to be the purpose of our assessment system? How would it relate to curriculum? What instructional strategies did we as a district value that would align to our assessments? What did I want teachers to do with the data? It really, of course, wasn’t about the platform, but rather the vision we had for how we were going to work systematically across our district to improve student learning (see this entry for additional information). In other words, my goal was (and still is!) to help teachers understand how to write and analyze good assessment items, as by teaching a teacher to fish, I feed them for a lifetime.
It isn’t until late that I’ve really come to understand how crucial that conversation was and how important the envisioning process is. We say it in Admin 101 classes all the time that vision is gold, and we teach teachers on a regular basis that there must be clearly defined learning targets (their vision for a lesson). The same is true for our assessment systems within our districts. No matter what role you play in your district (curriculum director, principal, or teacher), start with a vision that addresses the relationship between your classroom assessments and state assessments and then the relationship between your formatives and summatives within your context. What is your goal by assessing? What are you hoping your assessments show? How do you know that your assessments prove what students should know and are able to do?
Step 2 in conquering the test comes through group discussion and utilizing the plethora of resources that exist out in our state. For starters, I encourage everyone to review the blueprints for what we are hoping our students can do. Test blueprints are outlines of the content and skills that are to be measured. They specifically help teachers understand what the test looks like and also helps reassure us that the target isn’t moving. Our blueprints have stayed the same for the last three years and it’s a great exercise to compare these in relationship to curriculum maps and lesson plans and in relationship to state standards (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies).
Next should come analysis of released items; these released items come out on a regular basis per Ohio Revised Code and provide insight into how different concepts can be assessed. (A caution to note is that released items are different than practice items. A practice item is designed to practice technology skills. In other words, a Grade 8 math practice item might not be aligned to Grade 8 math but does show students how to manipulate technologies that they will see on the test). Once you’ve analyzed those items in relationship to your standards, start to create your own items, items that measure the depth that is required in the standards.
Speaking of depth, my favorite tool is to utilize the performance level descriptors to start to move students forward (this becomes the intersection of curriculum / instruction / assessment). PLDs are, as ODE describes, the “link between Ohio’s Learning Standards and performance standards and help to define what students should know or be able to do at each performance level.” The power in this tool comes in when we start to look at a collection of student work over the course of a unit or a month or week and start to compare this student’s work to the PLDs. For example, a 3rd Grade Basic student can “Determine the main idea of a text and identify key details to recount the main idea;” this is different than the Proficient student who can “Determine the main idea of a text and recount key details and explain how they support the main idea.” Now we know that we have to teach the student how to explain how details support the main idea. This can become the vision (i.e. learning target) for instruction.
The last step comes in learning more about assessments. Learn how Ohio writes its assessments — interestingly enough, they are not individuals in fedoras, but rather teachers and administrators like you and me (see this to learn about the item development process). Learn about other myths that exist in relationship to Ohio’s testing system.
Then learn how to write your own items that will help support the instruction and curriculum happening in your classrooms.
Now, if only if there was a place to learn more about all of these concepts, and ways to get more examples….
Bryan R. Drost is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Summit ESC, Ohio. He holds a Master’s of Education in Educational Foundations with an emphasis in Standards-Based instruction as well as a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Assessment both from Kent State. Bryan holds a variety of roles at the state and national levels: an ODE Network Regional Leader, a member of ODE’s Fairness and Test Use Committee, Content Advisory Committee member, NAEP assessment member, a steering committee member of the Northeast Ohio TALK Network, a RESA master coder, a national supervisor for edTPA, a consultant for the National Board, part of NCME’s Standards and Test Use Committee, the mathematics lead for Ohio’s Core Advocates, and Regional Data Lead for State Support Team Regions 4 & 8. He has presented throughout the state and country on various topics related to instructional shifts, assessment, and technology integration.
We are full of gratitude for our extraordinary teacher community and wish all teachers a Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Below we have highlighted just a few of the teachers who have inspired us this year.
Jana Mitchell has just begun to dive into Edcite and her excitement is overwhelming. Not only did she create her final for her kids, she is now working on getting all of her chapter tests into Edcite for next year. She asks many questions, and I am so grateful that I can help her use this tool the way she wants. So excited to have another person share my love of Edcite!!!!! – Joslin Lee, Biology Teacher, Benjamin Logan High School and Edcite Evangelist
I want to thank all of the teachers in Rocky River City Schools. I helped our team member Julia Sweeney lead a district-wide PD, and the teachers there are incredibly professional, collaborative, and willing to learn new technology skills. – Nicole Bixler, Content and Outreach, Edcite
Brianne Huber is an Edcite Schools teacher from Dover Intermediate School in Westlake, Ohio, who is becoming an expert in creating content on Edcite so that she can better prepare her students for the Ohio State Test. – Josie Mittleman, PD and Curriculum Strategist, Edcite
I was able to meet our Teacher of the Month Maria Sohns at Sunman-Dearborn Middle School in Indiana. Her students use digital programs, including Edcite, every day and are completely engaged in learning language arts! Her students are curious, knowledgeable, and very respectful. She’s done a stellar job as a teacher! – Nicole Bixler, Content and Outreach, Edcite
Carita Carryl introduced Edcite to her 9th grade students at West Boca High School in Boca Raton, Florida. This technology-enhanced practice helped students prepare for the type of questions they were required to answers on the FSA. – Josie Mittleman, PD and Curriculum Strategist, Edcite
Super Content Creators
Jessica Beckford, a teacher at McArthur High School in Broward County, Florida has created exceptional high school math content and gives her students authentic practice for the FSA. – Josie Mittleman, PD and Curriculum Strategist, Edcite
Pam Sever, a science teacher at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, California has truly impressed me this year! She has been creating really engaging science assignments on Edcite and has shared her expertise with her entire science team. – Nicole Bixler, Content and Outreach, Edcite
Melissa Runyon has given lots of great feedback on improving writing in Edcite for students and teachers. She also creates lots of wonderful middle school English content for Bryant Public Schools! – Brian McIntosh, Edcite Product Manager and Computer Science Teacher
Rachel Brown is a 6th grade language arts teacher at Dekalb Middle School in Indiana who has created very strong content for her entire team. She is an Edcite pro! – Nicole Bixler, Content and Outreach, Edcite
Joseph Winters from Four Corners High School, part of the Charter Schools USA network, has created an entire writing curriculum in Edcite Schools, helping prepare his students for the FSA writing exam. – Josie Mittleman, PD and Curriculum Strategist, Edcite
Carissa Stevens is a math teacher at Logan-Hocking Middle School in Ohio who has created a lot of strong 5th grade math content and has shared it with the Edcite community. I encourage teachers to check out her assignment collections and follow her on Edcite Social! – Nicole Bixler, Content and Outreach, Edcite
Teachers Leading the Way
Christine Salcido, Math Department Chair at Pacheco High School, helped set up Edcite Schools in Los Banos Unified School District and has created a MASSIVE amount of great content on the site. She is also great at finding and trying out new features on Edcite! – Brian McIntosh, Edcite Product Manager and Computer Science Teacher
Opal Ferron, a coach at Plantation High School in Broward County, Florida has not only learned how to create content and assign assignments to students on Edcite, but she has encouraged every teacher in her school to use the platform so that all students have engaged practice with technology enhanced questions. – Josie Mittleman, PD and Curriculum Strategist, Edcite
Shelby Swartout and Kelly Cooper have helped lead Edcite professional development sessions, worked with Edcite creators to make Edcite Schools better, and created amazing assignments to help their students master the ELA and Social Studies Standards. Edcite is an amazing product but having great teachers like Shelby Swartout and Kelly Cooper to create and administer assignments on Edcite makes measuring learning a success! – Courtney Stewart, Technology Coordinator for Mary Blount Elementary School in Tennessee and Edcite Evangelist
Nikolaos Chatzopoulos from Plato Academy, located on the West Coast of Florida, has engaged his entire network of schools in EdTech by creating a symposium where educators can discuss technology that works in the classroom and has introduced Edcite Schools to Plato Academy. – Josie Mittleman, PD and Curriculum Strategist, Edcite
Andress Scott, a Literacy Specialist in Bryant Public Schools in Arkansas, has done a great job advocating for teachers she supports, helping Bryant create lots of great common assessments, and she is using Edcite’s rubric report to improve writing all over her district. Last but not least, she introduced me to a wonderful bakery in Bryant! – Brian McIntosh, Edcite Product Manager and Computer Science Teacher
Lucy Zarut-Bellon from North Hialeah Elementary School in Miami-Dade County, Florida, is an Edcite Schools leader extraordinaire and has created incredible Edcite assignments for her elementary-aged students. – Josie Mittleman, PD and Curriculum Strategist, Edcite