Our professional learning sessions are designed to be interactive, engaging, and reflective. GCA’s experienced facilitators scaffold learning for students, teachers, and leaders. Each session includes applied activities that promote continuous growth.

GCA facilitators have deep expertise in the areas of assessment (formative and summative), literacy, reading and writing, mathematics, data analysis, school improvement and leadership. Most GCA facilitators have teaching experience in K-12 or higher education classrooms.

In our professional learning sessions, we take a comprehensive view: one that keeps curriculum, instruction, and assessment in mind.

Curriculum

What is the intent of the standards I teach, and what does student mastery look like? GCA offers professional learning sessions that address these questions. Topics include:

Deconstructing standards

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Mastery

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Assessment

Do my formative assessments align with the rigor of the standards? To address this question, GCA offers professional learning sessions on the following topics:

Writing quality assessment items

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Assessment Audits

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Scoring open-ended items accurately and consistently

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Instruction

Do my instructional practices align with the rigor of the standards and my assessments? GCA collaborates with students, teachers, and leaders to address this question. Topics include:

Working with students to develop their text-based writing skills

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Collaborating with teachers to develop students’ text-based writing skills

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Effective questioning sequences

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Custom Professional Learning Solutions

GCA also offers customized professional learning solutions. Please contact us so that we can discuss your objectives.

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Testimonials

"After bringing Mr. Kevin Raczynski to our school to work with our staff on writing we had multiple requests by teachers to bring him back to discuss rubric building. Our staff finds the training extremely valuable and useful. "

− Elizabeth Bennett, Assistant Principal, Richmond Hill Middle School

"I saw different strategies that could be implemented in my classroom and ways to increase student engagement on a variety of levels"

− Lakendra Mathews Teacher, Grade 1 Idlewood Elementary

"Dr. Raczynski does a phenomenal job with delivering professional learning to both students and teachers. His presentations are always engaging and provides teachers with best practices that can be implemented within the classroom."

− Markelia Blair, Ed.S. Instructional Support Specialist

"Kevin’s sessions were exactly what teachers needed, from elementary to high school. Some of their responses:"

− Laura Frizzell, Coastal Plains RESA

"I appreciated the explanation of the instructional implications in regards to the constructed response scoring."

− Teacher, Coastal Plains RESA

"I was able to see examples of exemplar writing pieces. I was also able to learn about the various types of questions on the GMAS and how to identify the point value for each. I feel more comfortable with preparing my teachers for the assessment and providing them with the tools to prepare the students."

− Teacher, Coastal Plains RESA

"I learned the importance of using rubrics and exemplars with students and providing more opportunities for revision instead of additional new writing assignments."

− Teacher, Coastal Plains RESA

"The ability to actually score model essays using the Milestones rubric was the most beneficial. The fact that the presenter knew first hand and could help us get a better understanding was enlightening."

− Teacher, Coastal Plains RESA

"The speaker was engaging and entertaining. His enthusiasm for student learning is contagious."

− Teacher, Coastal Plains RESA

Flexible Pricing

Pricing is affordable and customized to your objectives. Talk to us about your short and long-term goals for students, teachers, and leaders. We are here to listen!

What We Believe

Professional learning that leads to effective teaching practices, supportive leadership and improved student results is characterized by:

  • Learning communities committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and alignment of goals.
  • Prioritized resources for educator learning which are monitored and strategically coordinated.
  • Integrated theory, research, and models of adult learning aligned to intended outcomes.
  • Alignment of outcomes for educator performance and student curriculum standards.
  • Leaders who develop capacity and advocate and create support systems for learning.
  • A variety of sources and types of data used to plan, assess and evaluate learning.
  • Applied research on change coupled with sustainable support for implementation of long term change.

Our Professional Learning Team

Jeff Barker, Ph.D.

Associate Director

Jeff has been with the Georgia Center for Assessment since March 2014. After graduating with a B.S. in Public and Urban Affairs from Georgia State University, he majored in Education at West Georgia College, where he earned a Master of Education degree. Upon earning a M.Ed., Dr. Barker continued his studies at Georgia State University and obtained an Education Specialist degree (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership.

Dr. Barker received a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning with a dual emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction, and Educational Leadership from Georgia State University. His research interests are in the areas of assessment, specifically formative assessment and its impact on instruction, learning, and achievement. Jeff’s research has focused on utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to investigate the process involved in the development of classroom formative assessment. Jeff is interested in understanding how the results from those assessments are transferred to effective instructional practices and professional development. His research has also included students with learning disabilities and English Language learners.

Jeff has taught for over twelve years in both elementary and middle school and served as a school administrator in Gwinnett County Public Schools. Before joining the Georgia Center for Assessment, he had been the Director of Assessment at the Georgia Department of Education and Executive Director of Accountability and Assessment in Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Dr. Barker has contributed to research on 21st-century learning, specifically in the field of artificial intelligence and the development of gaming/simulation models in K-12 assessment. He has collaborated in the field with such organizations as the Institute of Play, GLASS Labs, and Pearson’s Center for Next Generation Learning and Assessment to advance next generation assessment in Georgia schools. Dr. Barker has served on Georgia committees for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) as well as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Kay Elder, M.Ed.

Assistant Director

Kay S. Elder serves as an Assistant Director at the Georgia Center for Assessment (GCA), and her work is focused on assessment development. Kay is the Project Lead for the development, leadership and management of the Georgia Kindergarten Entry Profile as well as development of formative tools to support the transition to Georgia Milestones. She provides overall organizational leadership which includes customer relations with the Georgia Department of Education(GaDOE) and other parties, managing program quality, program management of contracts, allocation of staff resources, development of budgets and the development and sustainability of professional learning.

Most recently, Ms. Elder has served as the Director of Assessment of Gwinnett County Public Schools. In addition to overseeing the administration of national, state and local assessments, Ms. Elder has led the development of district interim assessments in the core content areas in grades 1-12, and integrated performance tasks in grades 4, 7 and 9. She has been instrumental in the implementation of the GaDOE Formative Instructional Practices modules in Gwinnett, and has provided assistance in the development of these modules and professional learning focused on assessment development. With 29 years of service in public education, Ms. Elder has also served as a primary grades teacher, assistant principal, Director of Elementary Summer School, and Coordinator of Assessment.

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Education with a concentration in Reading from the University of Georgia in 1985 and 1989 respectively, Ms. Elder is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from Mercer University. Her research interests are in the areas of formative assessment, early childhood assessment and assessment innovations.

Kevin Raczynski, Ph.D.

Assistant Director

Kevin has been with the Georgia Center for Assessment for over twelve years. After earning a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he studied English Composition at the University of Georgia, where he earned his Master of Arts (M.A.) degree. During this time, Kevin taught First-Year English and worked as a rater at the Georgia Center for Assessment. Upon earning his M.A., he continued as an instructor of First-Year English at the University of Georgia. In August 2005, he joined the Georgia Center for Assessment full-time as a program coordinator. His main responsibilities included assessment design, development of rater training, and the monitoring of rater accuracy. Kevin’s current role at the Georgia Center for Assessment is Assistant Director, a post he has held since September, 2014.

Kevin received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, with an emphasis in Quantitative Methods, from the University of Georgia. His research concentrates on performance assessment, with a focus on rater training, rater accuracy, and rater cognition. Concurrently, he researches adolescent literacy.

He has shared research-based literacy strategies with thousands of students and educators across Georgia, in a variety of subject areas. His work with students—ranging in age from Kindergarten to university undergraduates—centers on close readings, gathering evidence, and writing clearly. His work with educators involves much of the same and includes approaches for classroom literacy assessment, feedback strategies, and tracking students’ progress.

Linda Calhoun, Ed.S.

Education Program Specialist

Linda has been with the Georgia Center for Assessment since 2010; at that time, she had just retired after 30 years as serving as an educator, and most recently as the Director of Assessment in Gwinnett County. Upon graduating from the University of Georgia in 1972, Linda began her teaching career in Gwinnett County. During her 18 years in the classroom, Mrs. Calhoun has taught Kindergarten through ninth grade in all content areas. In 1997, Linda had become an Assistant Principal in Gwinnett County where she has worked specifically with assessment, curriculum, and professional learning. This experience eventually led Linda to a position at the Georgia Department of Education in the Assessment and Accountability Office and in the School Improvement Office.

Mrs. Calhoun completed her Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree in Middle School Education at Georgia State University, and earned a Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Supervision from the University of Georgia. She has always enjoyed working with teachers to make connections between assessment and instruction.

Tracy S. Robertson, Ed.S.

Program Coordinator

Tracy S. Robertson serves as a Program Coordinator at the Georgia Center for Assessment (GCA). She is the Project Lead for the development, leadership, and management of the Gwinnett County Gateway Assessment. Her role includes project management, budget development, professional development, and developing customer relationships.

Most recently, Ms. Robertson has served as the Coordinator of Assessment of Gwinnett County Public Schools. In this role, she had supported the development of an ongoing improvement process for the creation, administration, and revision of formative, interim, and summative assessments including SLO’s, district benchmarks, GHSWT, GHSGT, GKIDS, EOCT and Gateway. In her 16 years of service in public education, Ms. Robertson has taught grades K-12 special education in self-contained, resource, and collaborative settings. Through these varied experiences, Ms. Robertson has developed a skill set that highlights her ability to identify and support the goals and objectives of a K-12 assessment program. Tracy’s responsibilities have included the development of a communication plan, calendar, and professional learning program to facilitate effective practices and process of assessment in all schools. She has also worked to build strategic alliances with district and school level leadership that have resulted in a cohesive assessment program.

Ms. Robertson earned a Bachelor of Science in Special Education in 1998 from Columbus State University. She continued to further her education with a Master of Science in Special Education degree from Georgia State University in 2002, and Specialist in Educational Leadership degree from the University of West Georgia in 2010.

Stephanie A. Lai, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Scientist

Stephanie Lai has been with the Georgia Center for Assessment (GCA) for over four years. Prior to moving to Georgia, Stephanie had earned a B.S. in Psychology, with a concentration in Cognition, and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Educational Psychology from the University of Florida. During this time, Stephanie taught the undergraduate course in Educational Psychology and also served as a tutor and life skills coach at Academic Success, a program that works to provide individualized academic, social, emotional, and career support to post-secondary students with learning disabilities. After completing her Master’s program, Stephanie moved to Georgia to begin the doctoral program at the University of Georgia.

While pursuing her doctorate degree, Stephanie led a tutoring program at a nearby elementary school that primarily focused on early literacy. In 2011, she joined GCA as a Reading Content Specialist for the CRCT-M program and then later as a Program Coordinator for multiple concurrent Georgia assessments. Her main responsibilities included item and test development, creating and delivering training materials and webinars, and supervising the process for scoring and reporting. Stephanie went on to receive a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia with an emphasis in Applied Cognition and Development. Stephanie currently serves as an Assistant Research Scientist for GCA, a position she has held since September 2014.

Stephanie’s research interests are in the areas of applied cognitive processes specifically in early childhood learning. Her research has focused on investigating the processes involved in vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, and other higher-order cognitive skills in diverse student populations, including students with learning disabilities and students from low socioeconomic communities. Her publications include topics such as investigating the longitudinal relationship between reading fluency and reading comprehension skills in second grade children as well as an in-depth review on the research and practice of using accommodations during high-stakes testing. Most recently, she investigated the validity of the lexical diversity measure, D, as a fair and valid form of vocabulary measurement in African American kindergarten children compared to standardized measures of vocabulary which have shown to exhibit bias in this population.

Heather Hartley, M.A.

Editor

Heather Hartley has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with concentrations in Psychology and English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Master of Arts degree in English Education from Piedmont College. Currently, Ms. Hartley is a Doctor of Philosophy candidate of Business Administration at Northcentral University. At the Georgia Center for Assessment (GCA), Ms. Hartley has coordinated logistics for various scoring projects, including state writing assessments in grades 5, 8, and 11, as well as science and social studies content assessments.

Heather has assisted in the delivery of, and the scoring for, the 2014, 2013, 2012 Pearson Benchmark Project Administrations (Grades 3-HS) within the following content fields: American Literature, 9th Grade Literature, ELA, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Biology, Advanced Algebra, and Geometry. As part of the Writing Content development and leadership teams at GCA, Ms. Hartley has developed products which promote student learning and integrate projects across departments. She has created several in-house training materials, including an interdisciplinary writing style guide, an organization-wide calendar, and a quality assurance procedural document specific to the Georgia Student Growth Model reports. Ms. Hartley is charged with assuring all documents are aligned with Georgia Department of Education guidelines.

As an experienced English Language Arts (ELA) grades 6-12 teacher, Ms. Hartley has provided educational services consultation and administration for the past fifteen years. She has served in pivotal roles that promote learning: academic advisor for the federal grant, Supplemental Educational Services (SES); trainer for Reciprocal/Research-based teaching modules; teacher mentor for remedial reading and writing programs designed for Title I learners and at-risk youth; and instructor in Interrelated/ Inclusion Special Education classrooms.

Laura Moak, Ed.D.

Laura’s professional passion is professional learning and supporting adult learners in the application of assessment, formative instructional practices, and English Learner language acquisition topics. During her 18 years in Gwinnett County Public Schools, she served at the local school and district levels in the roles of ESOL Teacher, ESOL Team Lead, Middle School Title III Program Specialist, and Assessment Coordinator. In each of these roles, Laura used skills as a professional learning facilitator to raise awareness, train, and support teachers, local school administrators, and district leadership on research-based practices that support student achievement. Most recently she led Gwinnett County Public Schools in establishing a cohort model of delivery that trained principals, assistant principals, and district leaders in the concepts and application of Formative Instructional Practices. In addition to professional learning, Laura managed Gwinnett’s development of Fine Arts SLOs for Grades 2-12.

Laura currently serves GCA in a part-time role in addition to working as an Assistant Professor of Education for Thomas University in Thomasville, GA where she is the team lead on three courses in the graduate program—Assessment and Decision-Making, Research Methods: Action Research, and Teacher as Researcher.

Laura received her undergraduate degree in Music Education from Southeastern Louisiana University before completing a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. Upon completion of that degree Laura traveled and lived in Asia for almost ten years before returning to the states to complete a Master’s in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University. She received her Leadership Certificate from the University of Georgia, and EdS and EdD in K-12 Instructional Leadership from Argosy University, Atlanta, GA.

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Contact us for more information on our suite of Professional Learning opportunities.

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