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Smarter Balanced Answers to the Questions about 2017 Test Results

Smarter Balanced AnswersThe Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has released the results of its investigative analysis of the 2017 Smarter Balanced assessments. The analyses were conducted to validate the 2017 test scores and investigate the possibility of technical issues that could have affected the test results.

With this report, the Smarter Balanced officials have concluded that “the test scores accurately describe what students knew and were able to do in spring 2017 related to the learning standards.”

What was this investigation about? 

The release of the spring 2017 Smarter Balanced assessments showed that the student gains had plateaued from 2016. At that time, educators questioned if this flattening of the scores was due to technical problems in the exam, and if there were serious issues in the test.

Subsequently, the consortium officials promised to investigate the issue and conduct analyses to address the questions raised by the educators. Their Technical Advisory Committee addressed the following list of questions:

  1. How did students perform in 2017 compared to 2016?
  2. Were there fewer test questions available?
  3. Did students receive more difficult test questions in 2017 compared to previous years?
  4. Did the newly-added test questions impact test results?
  5. Did students spend less time taking the test?
  6. Did students take the test earlier in the school year?
  7. Were the student demographics different?

Answers to Questions about Smarter Balanced 2017 Test Results

Based on its investigation, Smarter Balanced has just released an update on the analyses it performed.

Major takeaways from the Smarter Balanced Report are:

  1. The 2017 tests measured student success as precisely as the 2016 tests.
  2. There were no technical issues with the 2017 assessments.
  3. The newly added question items did not have a substantial effect on 2017 results.
  4. The new items appear to have improved the capability of the SBAC test to describe student learning
  5. Some of the gains between 2015 and 2016 were in part based on students becoming more familiar with the format of the test.
  6. It would work towards establishing procedures to monitor and potentially discriminate better between growth due to increased familiarity with the test and true improvement in student learning.

In short, the Smarter Balanced officials have concluded that the 2017 tests results were accurate and there were no issues with the Spring 2017 SBAC assessments.


Two days to Father’s Day– Recharge your batteries, Now!

Build up your reservoir of love

Two more days, and it will be Father’s day.

Here you are –your three-month-old baby is now a smart seven-year-old boy, and the charming nine-year-old girl has grown into a very fine thirteen-year-old daughter. This Sunday, both, would be at your bedroom door, one with the breakfast, and the other, with a baseball bat.

Father’s day is the day kids express their love for their father. [Yes, even if it means lighting up the kitchen.]

It’s a delicate affair – Father’s day – your kids would want to spend the whole day with you. It’s important for them- to show the love they hold for you. You, one the other hand, the survivor of a week-long battle at work, are exhausted, tired and drained. I know, it isn’t easy; leaving your bed on Sunday is a Herculean task. Unfortunately, the day after tomorrow is no ordinary Sunday. This is the day, your kids get to tell you that you are the best father in the world. So, laziness, on your part, is not an option.

My suggestion is, you still have two days- start recharging your batteries.

Recharge your batteries, Now!

Build it up, I say – that reservoir of love, fill it with as much love as your heart can hold. Start recharging your inner batteries, now. You are an awesome father; and this Sunday, your kids will pay you back.

Of course, there are risks – it may not be a perfect start – a burnt omelet, a kitchen-on-fire, and a battle with the fire-extinguisher; the dangers are infinite.

Throw your golf clubs into the closet. Your plans do not matter, what matters are the plans your kids have made for you – Breakfast, baseball, tool time, a movie, a special dinner – it could be anything. Just go along with them.

What matters most is that you reciprocate their acts of affection. Show your care. This Father’s day, be with your kids. Until the time they return to bed– be with them!  It doesn’t even matter how many minutes you spend together; focus on making them feel loved.

Father’s day is a really special occasion; it’s the day children try to behave like adults. And for that special effort, they deserve a special treatment. So, this Sunday, make the most of the time that you spend with your kids. They may not remember everything that you do together, but they will remember, forever, how you made them feel.

You are a wonderful father, and have been doing everything a father could possibly do. Even so, it’s important that you spend the Father’s day with your kids. They need your time, and you better have it! Two days to go – Recharge your batteries, now.


What Makes a Team Work? The TEAM algorithm

What makes a team work?

Let’s be frank – Not all teams work; most people are terrible at teamwork.

As J. Richard Hackman, a leading expert on teams, puts it – Most of the time, team members can’t even agree on what the team is supposed to be doing. The odds of success are always slim.

So, what makes a team work?

What make a team work?

Here’s an acronym, I just created to provide you with a framework to identify the potential cracks, and hopefully, to help you build and bond a better team. I call it the TEAM algorithm.

T – Target

Direction. A clear, challenging direction. It’s the target that drives people. Only the teams that are productive, and have done something good together –  stay together, not the other way round. As per studies by Edwin A. Locke, well defined targets help direct efforts to goal-relevant activities, and lead to more effort.

E – Equity 

Most leaders think that all team members should be treated equally, but my experience says otherwise. Take a good look at the picture below.

One size doesn’t fit all – Every team member has a different need, and it must be respected. It’s the unique experiences that make people value their position in the team.

My advice is –  Make equity your priority. Value everybody’s uniqueness; treat them uniquely; and the results would surprise you, definitely.

A- Affection

Bonds among the team-members mean everything. Great results – the one that matter – are a result of collaboration and teamwork. It is the sense of belonging that fuels effective communication, support, and sharing of work load.

Samantha McDuffee has listed six reasons for team bonding. I am in total agreement with her.

M- Morale

You may not realize it, but morale is what makes and breaks teams. If you want an effective workplace, work towards making them happy. When the staff morale is high, everyone works better. Morale is what fuels creativity and improves performance. It’s important that your staff enjoys what they are doing.

Unless you attend to the TEAM algorithm, it may seem that everyone is filled with the spirit of goodwill and cooperation, but beware the project is bound to fail.

An important step in creating good teams is to recognize the barriers that hinder the TEAM algorithm. These barriers could come from the leader, the team-members or the situation. So, how to identify these barriers?

We’ll talk about it some other time.