While the entire menu of professional learning options remains available, GCA is proud to offer focused professional learning on extended-writing instruction, with related lessons and assessments, for the 2020-21 school year. The lessons, assessments, and professional learning have been informed by our work with thousands of students and educators in real classrooms, and by relevant theory and research. If helping students become even more skillful writers is part of your strategic plan this year, we would love to collaborate with you and your students!
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ELA Assesslets – Flexible Extended-Writing Assessments
ELA Assesslets are highly-flexible extended-writing assessments, meaning they can be used for many purposes. For example, schools wishing to assemble student writing portfolios in 2020-21 could use ELA Assesslets to collect independent extended-writing samples, in any of the 3 genres, after instruction in a specific genre has occurred. When combined with professional learning, Assesslet pricing is discounted.
Visible Writing Instruction
The time is always right for great writing instruction, which can occur remotely or face-to-face. By “visible writing instruction,” we simply mean helping students see how to write more effective extended written responses, in any genre, and then do it! Topics of the professional learning include: simple, effective planning, reading for evidence, bringing this evidence into the extended-response, and elaborating on this evidence. We’ve woven these topics into a focused sequence of lessons, which we share prior to the professional learning session. During the session, teachers become solid with the lessons before bringing them into the physical (or digital) classrooms.
This session can be combined with the use of ELA Assesslets, which provide an independent measure of students’ extended-writing after receiving instruction in a specific genre of writing. For more information about this professional learning and Assesslet “bundle,” click here.
Effective Feedback on Students’ Writing
This professional learning session begins with an overview of the research on feedback. Specific topics include: What does the research say about giving students feedback on their writing? What does effective feedback look like? What does ineffective feedback look like? We begin to answer these questions and apply the answers to student writing samples. You can do the same when giving feedback on your students’ writing!
This session can be combined with ELA Assesslets. The student samples to which feedback is applied are your students’ responses to the extended writing topic on the Assesslet. For more information about this professional learning and Assesslet “bundle,” click here.
Assesslet and Professional Learning Bundles
Assesslet bundles are flexible based on client needs. Bundling Assesslets with professional learning provides the opportunity for a reduced Assesslet per-student cost.
Our Professional Learning Team
Interim Associate Director
Kay S. Elder has been with the Georgia Center for Assessment (GCA) since 2015 and currently serves as the Interim Associate Director.
Previously, 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 has been with the Georgia Center for Assessment for over fourteen 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.
Tracy S. Robertson serves as an Assistant Director at the Georgia Center for Assessment (GCA).
Most recently, Ms. Robertson served as the Coordinator of Assessment of Gwinnett County Public Schools. In this role, she 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 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 Lai has been with the Georgia Center for Assessment (GCA) since 2011. Prior to moving to Georgia, Stephanie 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’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 been shown to exhibit bias in this population.
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 taught Kindergarten through ninth grade in all content areas. In 1997, Linda had become an Assistant Principal in Gwinnett County where she 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.