Education Week - January 14, 2015 - (Page 7)

Benefits Seen From Sharing Testing Items CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6 of Readiness for College and Careers, or parcc, test this year, and that consortium's policy prohibits nonmember states-such as Kentucky-from using individual test items. Nonmember states may pay to use the test forms, but they must use the whole test, not just items from it, said parcc spokesman David Connerty-Marin. Matt Vanover, a spokesman for the Illinois education department, said Illinois still could share items from its old test with Kentucky, but won't be able share parcc items. Kentucky and other states are considering yet another kind of item-sharing agreement, though. Through the Council of Chief State School Officers, some of the states that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards have been discussing the possibility of building a shared bank of science-test items. In some cases, item-sharing can be facilitated by having an assessment vendor in common. Before the common core, the Washingtonbased American Institutes for Research built tests for Delaware, Hawaii, and Oregon, and those states agreed to share items, said Jon Cohen, the president of the air's assessment division. The three states retained ownership of the items, and the air acted as a "steward," he said. Now, Arizona, Florida, and Tennessee-for which the air is building new tests or providing subcontracted services in test design-are licensing the item bank the air designed for Utah, another new test customer, Mr. Cohen said. Customers can benefit from the cost savings that a vendor derives from a shared item bank, said Marianne Perie, the co-director of the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Her organization is crafting new tests for Alaska and Kansas, and those states have agreed to share items. There are tricky aspects to an item-sharing agreement, however. One is ensuring the right balance between questions that are generalizable to multiple states and those that are tailored to one, Ms. Perie said. An important element of itemsharing agreements is the coordination of the timing when test items are released to the public, said Scott Norton, a former assessment director in Louisiana who now oversees assessment and accountability at the ccsso. If one state makes a test question public before its partners do, he said, it destroys the security of that question in states that are still using it. BLOGS As Educators Try to Expand 'STEM,' Some Call It Too Broad | CURRICULUM MATTERS | By now, even if you have trouble remembering the words that make up stem, you probably at least have a general sense of what the acronym refers to. (It's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.) Maybe you've even heard of steam-the movement to add "arts" to the grouping of subjects. Or perhaps you've come across arguments for stream (adding reading and arts) or stemm (stem + medicine) or stemss (stem + social studies). The expansion possibilities are, apparently, limitless. But in a recent Vox piece, Danielle Kurtzleben writes that stem may be "too broad a classification," at least when looking at the job market. She cites a 2014 Government Accountability Office report finding wide variability in employment and wages when stem fields are further divided into health care, "core stem" (i.e., life science, computer science, and math), and "other stem" (i.e., architecture, psychology, and science teaching). A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences also questioned the usefulness of lumping the disciplines together, noting that doing so can give short shrift to some subjects, usually math. Teachers may also lack the content knowledge to teach all four disciplines. But for many educators, stem represents a way of integrating disciplines to make learning more "real world." Former Alabama Teacher of the Year Anne Jolly wrote in an Education Week Teacher piece, "Stem develops a set of thinking, reasoning, teamwork, investigative, and creative skills that students can use in all areas of their lives." But just as many educators are advocating to broaden the stem acronym, it's worth asking the flip side: Is stem already too broad? When is differentiating the categories more helpful for teachers and students? -LIANA HEITIN More Schools Are Addressing Prescription-Drug Abuse | RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT | Does your school's drugabuse-prevention program make a special effort to address prescription-drug abuse? Should it? More and more districts are making an effort to do so, whether voluntarily or to comply with new state mandates. In Ohio, a new law requires teaching about the dangers of prescription opiates, which are viewed as a gateway to heroin use for teens. This shift creates an interesting dynamic. Many makers of drug-abuse-prevention curricula have steered away from an approach that warns students against a list of specific taboo substances, instead adopting efforts to bolster personal judgment and decisionmaking. But that approach comes as drugs like synthetic marijuana and prescription painkillers become larger public-health concerns. Lawmakers and educators have responded to those concerns by creating new requirements to specifically address those drugs in schools. Schools are concerned about prescription-drug abuse, which is a serious health concern on its own, and they are also concerned that it will lead to use of other drugs, such as heroin. In 2014, 1 percent of 12th graders responding to a federal survey said they'd tried heroin in their lifetimes. Twenty percent said they'd used a prescription drug, and 9.5 percent said they'd used a narcotic other than heroin. -EVIE BLAD Digital Math Strategies To Personalize Learning in K-8 Educators are using online games, apps, and adaptive software to personalize math instruction for K-8 students in more targeted and successful ways. GUESTS AUDRA MCPHILLIPS Mathematics specialist, West Warwick public schools, R.I. JIM MONTI Director of educational reform, compliance, and technology, West Warwick public schools, R.I. JOHN K. WILLIAMS JR. Assistant principal and former math teacher, Whittemore Park Middle School, Horry County, S.C., school district MODERATOR MICHELLE R. DAVIS Senior writer, Education Week Digital Directions REGISTRATION IS FREE! Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 | 1 to 2 p.m. ET DigitalMathStrategies LIVE OR ON-DEMAND EDUCATION WEEK | January 14, 2015 | | 7

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 14, 2015

Education Week - January 14, 2015
Mandatory State Testing on Thin Ice
Feds Confront Doubts in Plan To Fix Tribal Schools
TFA-Like Corps Places Advisers In High Schools
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Pittsburgh Collaboration Seen as Model
News in Brief
Report Roundup
With Common Core, More States Sharing Test Questions
New Study Plan Set on Down Syndrome
Blogs of the Week
Growth of Md. Advising Program Runs Into Familiar Controversy
N.Y. Governor Aims to Flex Muscles On Education Policy
Head Start Partnerships to Provide New Resources, Standards for Day Care
State of the States
Blogs of the Week
FREDERICK M. HESS: The 2015 Edu-Scholar Rankings
How Does an Edu-Scholar Influence K-12 Policy?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
WILLIAMSON M. EVERS: Exit, Voice, Loyalty—and the Common Core

Education Week - January 14, 2015