2015 CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS

Nearly 200 proposals for papers, posters, roundtables, and data blitz sessions were submitted for the 2015 conference! Thanks to the hard work of more than 100 volunteer reviewers, authors received feedback on their submissions and we are crafting the 2015 program. Thank you to those who submitted their research and work-in-progress and also to those who reviewed. There could not be a conference without you!
 
We are looking forward to our keynote and invited speakers, Ronald Ferguson, Nancy Streim, Joanna Gorin, and Preston Green (details below). We are also looking forward to a featured interview with Ronald K. Hambleton, report writing with Skip Livingston, Stephen G. Sireci, and Dena Pastor, and learning about effective job-seeking skills with the GSIC’s invited panel. 
 
Wednesday Evening Keynote: The Influence of Teaching on Adolescent Agency
Ronald Ferguson, Harvard University
Using Tripod student survey data from 16,000 sixth to ninth grade classrooms, Dr. Ferguson will present new evidence on how components of teaching predict not only basic academic skills, but also a range of agency-related factors. He will suggest that agency-related factors can be effectively cultivated and should educational priorities alongside the skills that standardized tests measure.
 
Thursday Midday Keynote: The Power and Pitfalls of University-School Partnerships
Nancy Streim, Columbia University Teachers College
Many colleges and universities claim to have partnerships with public schools in their communities. But what do we mean by partnership? While the primary motivation for higher education is usually teaching and research, the motivation for schools is typically services and expertise. Do research partnerships lead to school improvement? Can university-school partnerships change teaching and learning in K-12 and higher education?
 
These questions will be addressed in a discussion based on Dr. Streim’s twenty-year history with university-school partnerships, with special focus on lessons learned in creating university-assisted community schools in urban areas. Bridging the accountabilities in K-12 and higher education is at the heart of successful university-school partnerships.
 
Invited Speaker: Next Generation Performance Assessment for Improved Assessment and Learning
Joanna Gorin, Educational Testing Service
As education standards have increasingly emphasized higher-order cognitive processes, assessment developers have responded by including more short and extended constructed-response items, most notably essays, on their high-stakes assessments. Both in terms of face validity and construct validity, the use of performance tasks is appealing because they can be more aligned with the targeted reasoning and higher-order cognitive skills. However, while performance assessments overcome several of the limitations of traditional item types, it is not without costs. Scoring cost and reliability, performance generalizability and person-by-task interactions, and logistical and financial constraints are challenges that have faced the educational testing community as large-scale performance assessments have been become more frequently included on student and teacher assessments.
 
In this talk I will discuss the opportunities and challenges facing next-generation performance assessments, emphasizing in particular what is new now that may have been insurmountable in past performance assessment movements. I will focus on assessment capabilities that leverage emerging technologies to afford a wider range of examinee interactions, assessment contexts, and real-time process data to support inferences and decisions about the complex skills stakeholders want to measure. I will also review the rigorous research that is needed to address a set of common questions including fairness and bias, generalizability, scoring and scaling, construct representation, utility and validity, data structure and processing, psychometric and statistical modeling, and reporting and validation. Finally, I will provide specific examples of simulation and games-based assessment in a discussion of strategies for building next generation performance assessments and associated validity arguments.
 
Invited Speaker: Public Funding, Private Rules: How Charter Schools Have Taken Advantage of Their Hybrid Characteristics
Preston Green, University of Connecticut
Since 1991, forty-two states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation for charter schools. While charter schools are generally characterized as “public schools,” they are in reality hybrid institutions that exhibit both public and private characteristics. This presentation discusses how charter schools have used their public characteristics to qualify for public funding under state constitutional law, while highlighting their private characteristics to exempt themselves from other laws that apply to public schools. This presentation concludes by discussing how legislatures can design their charter school laws to provide greater protection to the public and to students. 
 
Featured Interview: A Perspective on Equating and Comparability at the State and National Levels
Ronald K. Hambleton, University of Massachusetts Amherst

There are few topics in psychometrics that occupy the space between policy and operational testing in such an interesting, challenging, and consequential way as equating and score comparability.  Technical and methodological choices can have an enormous impact on results, and sometimes the context for equating brings in considerations that are well outside the textbook procedures for ensuring test and form equivalence.  Professor Ronald K. Hambleton has over twenty years’ worth of hands-on experience in this area within the context of the Massachusetts K-12 assessment system and other state testing programs such as those in Alaska, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and for several years he has had a front-row seat for this topic at the national level in his role as a member of the PARCC Technical Advisory Committee.  In this featured interview, Professor Hambleton will share his accumulated understanding and insights on large-scale equating in the context of both state testing and PARCC, with a special focus on technical problems, policy implications, and research opportunities.

In keeping with the conference theme, Interdisciplinary Approaches, Collaborating Minds, we look forward to facilitating collaborations and new ways for members to connect during the conference. During the meeting we will provide dedicated time for collaborative work as well as opportunities to connect with colleagues across methods, contexts, and paradigms through our workshop offerings.  
 
Pre-Conference Workshop: Introductory and Intermediate R Workshops
Yoav Bergner & Jonathan Weeks, Educational Testing Service
 
Pre-Conference Workshop: Structural Equation Modeling: Modeling Approaches and Considerations
Sara Finney & Kelly Foelber, James Madison University
 
In-Conference Workshop: Getting to the "Action" in Youth Participatory Action Research: Researcher-Based Student Voice as a Driver of School Change
YPAR team from Miss Porter’s School & The Center for Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives (csbgl.org)
 
In-Conference Workshop: Making it Personal: The Utility of Person-Centered Analysis in Academic Research
Elisabeth Pyburn, S. Jeanne Horst, Monica Smith, & Heather Harris, James Madison University
 
In-Conference Workshop: Using Mixed Methods Research to Tell the Whole Story
Felice D. Billups and Robert K. Gable, Johnson & Wales University



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