The mission of the Center for Performance Assessment is to improve student achievement by building the knowledge and skills of educators and school leaders. We accomplish our mission by influencing the values and policies of school systems. We are the preeminent source of professional development in the areas of standards, assessment, and accountability.
The Center approaches its work based on the seven keys to effective professional development, and each of these keys is necessary for the investment of time and resources to be effective in improving student achievement.
The Seven Keys to Effective Professional Development
First, there must be a clear and consistent purpose for professional development. At the Center, our singular mission is improving student achievement by building the knowledge and skills of educators and school leaders. We can only work effectively in districts that share this mission as the primary focus of their professional development work. The purpose is not "exposure" or "discussion" or "comfort" - the one and only purpose is improving student achievement by building the knowledge and skills of educators and school leaders.
Second, specific areas of knowledge and skills that are necessary for improving student achievement must be identified. Our research suggests that we must build knowledge and skills in these key areas:
• Designing and developing standards-based performance assessments
• Advanced Seminar in Assessment Design
• Effective teaching strategies
• Data-driven decision making
• Accountability for improved student achievement
In addition to these essential foundations, there are advanced seminars that provide the sustained internal capacity every school system needs. These advanced seminars and institutes are designed for your most interested and advanced faculty members and school leaders.
Third, every building must have permanent resources so that the knowledge and skills of the seminars are reinforced for current faculty members and introduced to new faculty members. These permanent resources include videotapes for every building and books for every participating teacher and school leader. We do not recommend the typical "talking head" video, but rather use dynamic and engaging videos that include authentic footage of students, teachers, and school leaders. We also provide quarterly newsletters with practical ideas, best practices, and research news.
Fourth, local leadership must be encouraged and nurtured through networking with other educators and leaders who are committed to the best practices in teaching, assessment, and leadership. These networking opportunities occur at our regional and national conferences and continue throughout the year through our Internet and toll-free hot lines.
Fifth, the efforts of teachers and school leaders must be supported with a holistic accountability system that includes not only test scores, but also a comprehensive analysis of the teaching and leadership practices that are associated with improved student achievement. This step is absolutely essential in order to translate the good intentions of professional development into actual changes in practice by teachers and administrators.
Sixth, leaders and policymakers must be supported in their efforts through direct support and access to the most recent information. Through a combination of personal visits, telephone conferences, and videoconferences, we provide direct support to meet the needs of superintendents, senior leaders, and board members.
Seventh, the motivation to put all of the pieces together is provided in the form of dynamic and research-packed keynote presentations. Only our senior consultants and I provide keynote presentations. A typical keynote presentation will include a presentation of up to three hours to a large audience - often every teacher and administrator in the district - followed by a planning meeting with the superintendent, senior leaders and in some cases, board members.
Our experience makes clear that all seven of these keys are essential. Schools waste money and time when they provide motivation, but no deep study that provides knowledge and skills. Schools waste money and time when they provide knowledge and skills to one group of teachers, but fail to provide permanent resources to reinforce those messages and assist new teachers and administrators coming into the building. School systems waste money and time when they provide professional development but fail to assess the actual application of professional development techniques in the classroom and school building through an effective accountability system.
Center for Performance Assessment is a Other organization
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