Derek C. Briggs, 2021-2022 NCME President
The President’s Corner
It seems like just yesterday that we were enjoying one another’s virtual company as part of a very successful 2021 conference. But the summer months flew by leaving many of us with a mix of joy and sorrow, and now here we are in the midst of a hectic fall season. Behind the scenes, a legion of dedicated committees, SIGIMIEs and Board of Directors has been putting in work on behalf of the NCME Community. I want to share a few notable updates with you.
The passing of Matt Gaertner still weighs heavy on so many of our hearts, and there is a real need for us to come together to honor his memory. A plan is in the works to hold such an event on the eve of the 2022 Conference, April 21st in San Diego. I will share more details as they become available. I am also happy to say that in large part through the generosity of the NCME community, $81,255 was raised for a fund to support the ongoing education of Matt’s two daughters, Corinne and Genevieve. Matt’s wife Freya has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support she has received. Thanks folks.
Back in September we put out a survey to NCME membership to get feedback relevant to the planning underway for annual conference to be held in 2022 and beyond. We received a total of 472 responses, with 86% coming from regular members, and 14% from student members. Among survey respondents, 78% had attended the 2021 virtual conference, and 82% reported that prior to the pandemic, they had typically attended the NCME conference in person.
When asked if they planned to attend the NCME 2022 conference if it is held in person just 12% of respondents answered no. Instead, respondents were pretty evenly split between “yes” (46%) and “unsure” (42%). Unsurprisingly, the main factor behind this uncertainty was concerns about safety giving the ongoing pandemic. When asked if they would be willing to participate if the 2022 conference switched an all-virtual environment, 84% of respondents answered yes. At the same time, a majority of respondents made clear their preference to return to an in-person format in the future.
A large majority of respondents indicated that requiring proof of vaccination, requiring conference participants to wear masks when indoors, and imposing limits on seating in conference rooms to facilitate physical distancing were all precautions that would make them more likely to attend in person. These are in fact precautions we plan to take—in conjunction with AERA—for the 2022 conference.
We also asked respondents the following question: “If future NCME conferences were to be taking place in-person, are you generally more or less likely to participate if it is being held concurrently with the AERA conference?” A majority of respondents--58%--answered that it would make no difference, 9% that it would make them less like to attend, and 33% that it would make them more likely to attend. An important issue that many respondents raised in their written comments was a concern about the expense in having to travel to attend both conferences if they were not held concurrently, an issue that is especially pertinent for international travelers.
One interesting finding from this survey is that holding the NCME conference at the same time as AERA would be viewed as less of a factor influencing attendance if the NCME conference was taking place virtually or in a hybrid format. Finally, when asked for a preferred time of the year to hold the NCME conference, respondents were pretty evenly divided: 17% fall, 13% winter, 23% spring, 19% summer and 29% had no preference.
At the present time we are still planning to hold an in-person portion of the conference with accommodations available for those who are unable to travel due to health or safety concerns. We also plan to have some of the conference sessions take place in a fully virtual format. However, these logistics are still somewhat in flux at the present time, and we will be keeping our eyes on the trajectory of the pandemic, vaccination rates, and the possible emergence of new variants. The Board does not plan to separate the timing and location of our conference from that of AERA at the present time. However, it is a possibility we may revisit in the future if doing so provides us with the opportunity to offer NCME members a significantly better experience.
The full survey results are available upon request.
2022 NCME Equity Webinar
Also in early September, as one of my presidential initiatives, a call for proposals was released for an Equity in Assessment and Measurement Webinar. The goals for the webinar are to
The winning proposal, coordinated by Chastity McFarlan from Renaissance, is entitled
“Cultural Relevance Versus Construct Relevance: How do we Create Culturally Responsive Assessments?” The webinar will take place mid-January of 2022. The specific date and time of the webinar will be announced in November. A summary of the proposal and the participating panelists are provided below
The year 2015 marked a significant tipping point in our educational system: it was the first year in which White students did not make up more than 50% of the US public school student body. As the country grows continually diverse, so does the importance of ensuring curricula and assessments reflect this diversity. This urgency to implement responsive practices and programs was recently compounded by the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on students from traditionally marginalized communities. Now more than ever, the sector is faced with the challenge of ensuring inclusion and responsiveness in all aspects of our educational system.
Traditional assessment practices have suggested that to make assessments accessible to all students, regardless of racial or cultural background, we must remove any construct-irrelevant variable, including culture-specific contextual items, that may unintentionally privilege or hinder performance. However, a growing body of literature calls for the use of culture-specific contextual items, citing that culturally relevant material will increase engagement, interest, and inclusion of marginalized students.
Given these seemingly disparate ideas, the proposed webinar seeks to allow for an understanding of these ideas in education and how they might play out in classroom formative, interim and summative contexts as we seek to develop equity-focused assessments. The webinar will start with an introduction and overview of both universal design for assessment and culturally responsive assessment practices. Then a panel of experts in assessment development and culturally relevant pedagogy will discuss how these ideas could and/or should be implemented in various types of assessments. All panelists acknowledge the importance of bias-free assessments and the importance of cultural and linguistic responsiveness in education, but all continue to seek the best way to address the tension in these two aspects.
Taskforce on Foundational Competencies in Educational Measurement
I am excited to announce, in support of another of my key presidential initiatives, the formation of a taskforce I am convening to make recommendations to help to shape the education and preparation of the next generation of educational measurement professionals.
On the one hand, there has never been a better time to learn about the methods and practices of educational measurement. There are so many incredible resources that are just a few clicks of a button away so long as one has a connection to the internet. On the other hand, we know that most people, especially in the US, who self-identify psychometricians or assessment and measurement specialists tend to arrive in the field through idiosyncratic channels. Few people have a disciplinary background in psychology; some may know very little about education. And many of the kinds of people that might have previously self-identified as psychometricians or statisticians may now see themselves as “data scientists.”
Are there foundational competencies that we expect any newly arriving member to the educational measurement profession to know and be able to do? If so, how can we build consensus around these foundational competencies and develop them among students?
Imagine if there were an NCME consensus document that answered this question. It could be as broad as a framework or as detailed as a curriculum. Such a document could help to improve the visibility and standing of the field. It could attract talented and committed undergraduate students to important work. It could cohere and improve instruction among and within graduate programs. It could improve the skills and readiness of incoming professionals to measurement organizations. And it could serve as the basis for a license and certification program in educational measurement.
Charge to the Taskforce
The Taskforce Members
Terry Ackerman, University of Iowa; University of North Carolina Greensboro, emeritusDebbi Bandalos, James Madison UniversityDerek Briggs, University of Colorado BoulderHoward Everson, SRI International and CUNYAndrew Ho, Harvard UniversitySue Lottridge, CambiumMatthew Madison, University of GeorgiaSandip Sinharay, ETSMichael Rodriguez, University of MinnesotaMike Russell, Boston College Alina Von Davier, DuolingoStephanie Wind, University of Alabama
The taskforce will be chaired by Andrew Ho and is holding its first monthly meeting in November. Stay tuned for more details as this important initiative continues to evolve.
Scott Marion appointed to NAGB
I am happy to announce that Scott Marion, one of three nominations that NCME supported with a formal letter of recommendation, has been appointed to a four-year term on the National Assessment Governing Board, from October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2025. Scott will replace Greg Cizek in a NAGB slot reserved for a testing and measurement expert. Congratulations to Scott!
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