Assessment Education Perspectives

Task Force Member Spotlight – Dr. Kathryn Dewsbury-White

Our ongoing Task Force Member Spotlight blog series has shined the light on member backgrounds and why they are participating in the National Task Force on Assessment Education. The Task Force was launched in October of 2015, and is designed to be a national voice on the need for assessment education. With two advisors and 23 educators from 17 states, including pre-service and in-service educators, the Task Force seeks to develop new assessment approaches that can be put into practice by colleges and school districts.

This post is will help you get to know Kathy Dewsbury-White.  Kathy serves as the president and CEO of the Michigan Assessment Consortium, the not-for-profit, nonpartisan education consortium dedicated to increasing quality, comprehensive and balanced assessment practices and systems in the state of Michigan. The MAC has published Assessment Literacy Standards: A National Imperative, numerous tools and resources for teachers and administrators and pursues collaborations with education organizations in Michigan and nationally.

Over a 25-year public school career, Kathy served as a curriculum director for a regional education service agency, leading curriculum, instruction and assessment development efforts.  Her career paralleled the standards-based education movement accounting for her keen interest in assessment practices and systems designed to support learning.

A recent focus has been on development of strong arts programs.  She serves as the state director of the Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment project (MAEIA) project and coordinates arts integration programming for Wharton Center for the Performing Arts and Ingham Intermediate School District, under the direction of the John F. Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program. The MAEIA project is a soup-to-nuts suite of free tools and resources and now a virtual network, for arts teachers, designed to support program improvement and student achievement.

Why did you agree to join the Task Force?

Understanding assessment and the ways it serves the learning process and program improvement, can result in: quality practice and policy, which contributes to significantly improving educational outcomes for students. We believe assessment literacy is a national imperative, not just a Michigan imperative. We are interested in joining forces with partners for the purpose of improving policy, and developing and sharing resources that will contribute to the professional capacities of educators (teachers and administrators) and pre-service teachers and aspiring administrators.

How might you use your learning and time with the Task Force to impact your current work over the next 12 months?

We also seek opportunities to contribute to and participate in research. We continue to look for examples and avenues to support statewide improvements across our Institutions of Higher Education (IHE’s) and we would appreciate the opportunity to contribute to a national voice for the purpose of influencing national education policy, especially hoping to identify opportunities in ESSA that could strengthen the professional capacity of our education workforce.

My initial focus with the task force has been to work with task force colleagues to develop a working definition of assessment literacy and to ferret out logical and appropriate opportunities in ESSA to use Title allocations to states and districts to advance development of assessment literacies across the stakeholder groups who impact our education system.  I also hope our Michigan-specific efforts assist these national efforts by creating models and lessons learned about how to support a state system of educators.

There are two MAC initiatives that align well with the Task Force efforts and inform MAC’s work. The first is the Assessment Learning Network MAC will host for our partner education associations and our SEA in the state of MI. This newly formed group will engage in shared learning and help to shape professional learning opportunities specifically designed to support the stakeholders in the system who seek to be assessment literate: teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, boards of education. The second is the development of a MAC-sponsored credentialing program in assessment based on the MAC-developed, Assessment Literacy Standards (2015).  Through our collaborative and supportive relationship with our SEA and partner education associations we hope we can provide a model for other states.

The theme here is sharing what we have learned and have developed and growing our connections and collaborations across the U.S. The theme here is sharing what we have learned and have developed and growing our connections and collaborations across the U.S. and even internationally so that education policy, the resources that support our policies, the learning opportunities for educators result in a truly well-equipped education work force. We know what we need to know about the power of assessment used well to support the learning process. Now we need to align forces to pour our efforts into development of policies and use of public resources that will equip our educator workforce.

Have you had success in improving assessment education for teachers, either Pre- or In- Service, in your work? If yes, please tell us a bit about the work and the results.

Our simple website houses a variety of resources and connections for educators. In terms of improving assessment education for teachers – perhaps check out the Common Assessment Development Modules,  archived videoconferences or collection of  white papers. We get terrific response to the Assessment Literacy Standards and encourage others to use them to support their own work.

MAC is a statewide consortium dedicated to comprehensive, quality, balanced assessment practice and systems. We have focused on professional learning opportunities, and the creation of resources and tools. The work has been executed through a series of collaborations with our state education agency, our regional service agencies, our local education agencies, partner education associations and national assessment expert-friends. Focusing on teacher assessment knowledge and practice we have provided over twenty videoconferences featuring assessment expertise (at no cost to participants). We developed a series of 24 modules designed to support assessment and curriculum facilitators in creation of local, common assessments.

Supplied by: Kathryn Dewsbury-White, Ph.D. President/CEO MI Assessment Consortium 11.07.2016.