Engaging State Leaders
The primary aim of the New York Formative Assessment Project was to help the New York State Education Department (NYSED) learn about classroom formative assessment practices from the experiences of a district implementation. Initial work with the State Education Department included establishing criteria for site selection, determining site selection, clarifying department roles to support district implementation, and determining whom to involve in this project from across the education department. Following pilot site selection the New York Comprehensive Center worked with leadership at NYSED to build a shared understanding of formative assessment research and practice, to explore strategies for statewide support of formative assessment, and to disseminate results from the pilot project to other schools in New York State. The process of engaging state leaders included a wide range of supports from the NYCC and the Assessment and Accountability Content Center (AACC), such as ongoing meeting facilitation, delivery of professional development sessions on formative assessment to NYSED staff, establishing connections between formative assessment and other state education initiatives, facilitation of site visits to conduct analyses of project results with the pilot district, and the shared development of internal working papers to describe state-level support for formative assessment.
- Readiness Factors for District Formative Assessment Pilot, March 2007
- Formative Assessment Project Initial Planning Meeting, March 2007
- Sample NYSED Internal Formative Assessment Communication, March 2009 (Includes Project Timeline)
- Initial engagement of state leaders in the formative assessment project focused on understanding the key ideas from formative assessment research and developing a shared understanding of formative assessment theory and practice. Over time, many new state department staff participated in ongoing dialogue about formative assessment. Each time new state education department staff engaged in the formative assessment work, it was necessary to begin anew, to ensure that each new participant shared a common understanding on the definition and attributes of formative assessment.
- Given the complexity of the state education department role in setting policy, the New York Formative Assessment Project found it useful to frequently revisit core formative assessment research and the CCSSO definition with the NYSED work group. This helped to keep the initiative focused as new people from across the department showed interest in this work.
- Assessing reading factors for all participating organizations in a formative assessment initiative is essential to determine if sufficient resources (personnel, programmatic, and material) are present to sustain both initial and long-term success.
- Ensure there is a shared understanding within the state education department regarding project goals and outcomes. Provide sufficient time for partners to assess, plan and develop agreement on what is necessary for successful implementation.
- Establish common understanding of formative assessment during initial engagement of all participants.
- Implementation research shows that change in initiatives rely on a purveyor of the vision. A purveyor is a group of individuals who actively work to implement the practice with fidelity (Fixen et. Al, 2005 – link to web reference). Actively support the purveyor with resources and time.
- Take advantage of opportunities for state education representatives to communicate a consistent vision of formative assessment to the field.
- Engage both top-level leadership and staff in early planning processes.
- Engage an inter-disciplinary and cross-departmental representation to engage in ongoing learning that will result in their ability to plan and develop formative assessment policy.