CASTL Meeting Tackles Issue of Measurement in Schools

The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) recently announced a new initiative to bring developmental science, which examines the conditions and processes that shape human development, into the classroom. This initiative kicked off during a two-day working meeting on June 20th and 21st, 2013 that brought together teachers and administrators from around Virginia with educational researchers from across the country.

Educational measurements have the attention of every school leader nationwide, as assessments are used for accountability purposes and teacher evaluation systems. But these measures do not always reflect the latest research in developmental science.

Bridget HamreThe CASTL Meeting tackled these issues by discussing the opportunities and challenges in school-based measurement tools – with a focus on measures that go beyond academic and cognitive skills.

“If we work together with our partners in schools we can develop and test new measures that may help teachers and administrators gather actionable data that can better support all types of development and learning,” said Bridget Hamre, Associate Director of CASTL and one of the meeting organizers.

Meeting participants were divided into three workgroups focused on: self-regulation in early childhood, peer relationships in middle childhood and adolescent motivation. By the end of the meeting each workgroup identified next steps to move this work forward, with a clear focus on collaboration with partners in districts and schools.

  • The adolescence workgroup is establishing partnerships with schools and will ask teachers to submit common dilemmas or challenges around student motivation and video recordings that can be used in a future online resource.
  • The middle childhood workgroup will work with schools in the ASCD “Whole Child Initiative” to pilot measures of peer relationships that can inform teachers instruction and interactions. They are also collaborating to write a policy piece broadening language used in schools around social relationships.
  • The early childhood workgroup is working to create a series of video resources centered on self-regulation that describe what these skills look like in classrooms, how they develop over the early childhood years, and how teachers can support them.

Workgroup at CASTL MeetingDr. John Q. Easton, director of the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, delivered a public keynote address on “Using Measurement as Leverage between Developmental Research and Educational Practice.”

There was broad agreement among participants that the meeting was a success and will lead to meaningful work in the near and long term. One attendee reported that “participating in this working meeting was the single most amazing professional experience I have had to-date. I feel so incredibly inspired about my research and the possibilities that could emerge from the meeting.”

Kathy Glazer, president of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, a nonpartisan group whose mission is to advance school readiness in the commonwealth, said that “the CASTL Meeting solidly and practically linked research to practice to performance measurement – a loop that is necessary to make a sound case for the investment that yields lifelong dividends.”

Meeting attendees were from a variety of organizations including the Council of Chief State School Officers, Virginia Association of Supervision & Curriculum Development and the Harrisonburg City Public Schools. Researchers attended from Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University and others.