Monthly Archives: May 2013

Opportunities for Educator Involvement in Smarter Balanced Item Development Activities

Recruitment is now underway for qualified educators to participate in the development and analysis of Smarter Balanced pilot and field test items! The California Department of Education (CDE) will be selecting educators for the following activities in 2013:

  • Field Test Item Writing: anticipated dates of service, July–October 2013
  • Field Test Stimulus Review: anticipated dates of service, June–August 2013
  • Field Test Item and Task Review: anticipated dates of service, July–November 2013
  • Pilot Test Data Review: anticipated dates of service, August–September 2013


General requirements for participating educators include:

  • Currently certified or licensed to teach English–language arts (ELA) and/or mathematics in a K–12 public school.
  • Currently teaching in a public school or currently employed by a public school or district or state education entity, including higher education.
  • Taught ELA and/or mathematics in grades three through eight and/or high school within the past three years or have worked in a classroom content support role such as a literacy or mathematics coach, district or state content specialist.
  • Previously reviewed part or all of the Common Core State Standards for the content area in which they are interested in writing items.


The online application can be found on CDE Web site at The application deadline is June 6, 2013.

If you have any questions about this recruitment, please contact the CDE Statewide Assessment Transition Office, by phone at 916-445-8517 or by e-mail at


Who Am I?

One question that I often hear asked of young women and men of the high school ages is
“What are you wanting to be when you grow up?”  Many look dumbfounded by this question as little time is spent discovering strengths, gifts, talents, and skills.  How do we enlighten ourselves as to how our brains work as individuals, what are personalities are like, how we are hard-wired, what makes us tick?  We have several resources that may help you lead toward “finding yourself”.  Watch for more resources to be added or updated as you try these inventories out for yourself:

IQ, Personality, Team Tests and Career – Learn more about yourself in order to best choose the career of best fit.

FIND YOUR STRENGTHS:  students find their areas of strengths. Are they Kinesthetic, Linguistic, Logical, Visual, Musical, Intrapersonal with self and/or others. Have students take this 56-question test to learn more about themselves.

FIND YOUR LEARNING STYLE:  students discover their learning modalities with this online inventory and information.

 FIND YOUR BRAIN DOMINANCE: The brain is split into four sections: Upper Left, Lower Left, Upper Right, Lower Right. Which is dominant for you?

FCOE presents winners of Math Counts powered by PIE

Kastner Wins 2013 MathCounts

On February 7th, 2013, the Fresno County Office of Education held its annual MathCounts competition. Co-hosted by the San Joaquin Valley Mathematics Project, the MathCounts competition is open all middle school students in Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Mariposa and Kings Counties.

Students take part in tests for individuals and teams. Tests are both written and oral and include a ‘Jeopardy’ style portion.  This year’s competition was won by Kastner Intermediate in Clovis USD (coached by Vince Oraze). Second place went to Edison Computech.

Passion In Education is the exclusive sponsor of this event.

Get Involved In Creating the New Standardized Testing!

Smarter Balanced Testing and Business Leaders: Preparing Students to Perform in Your Company

Smarter Balanced is a state-led consortium creating new student tests for the 2014-2015 school year and beyond. With nearly two-thirds of all jobs requiring at least some post-high school education, the business community can play a critical role in encouraging the change needed to ensure that students are graduating high school prepared for college and employment. Schools and districts across the country are working now to prepare for the full scale implementation of the new test system. 

What Gets Measured Gets Managed

• Our current testing system in the U.S. is composed mainly of multiple choice questions and rewards our future workforce for basic rote memorization of facts.

• The Consortium is creating a new generation of performance tests that require students to apply knowledge, get things done and demonstrate an ability to solve complex problems.

Preparing Students to Meet Workplace Goals Business leaders need employees who can put skills and knowledge to work to solve problems. Research has proven that when students are required to apply knowledge, their understanding and retention is deepened. To compete in the global market, we must better prepare students to excel professionally and contribute to our economy. Smarter Balanced tests will measure progress toward college and career readiness, providing information for teachers and parents about where students are excelling and where they need more development.

Raising the Bar for our Future Workforce Until recently, each state developed its own education standards and tests. Today, 45 states are implementing updated standards, which define the knowledge and skills students need in order to succeed in college and best perform in your company. Smarter Balanced tests are aligned to these updated standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The tests will be administered online for students in grades 3-8 and 11 to ensure they’re on track to become valuable employees for your company. For the first time, all students will be held to the same high standards and we will have achievement results that will be comparable nationwide.

Get Involved:

• Learn more about the Common Core State Standards:

• Learn more about Smarter Balanced and sign up for a monthly eNewsletter:

• Learn more about California’s implementation of Smarter Balanced:

• Invite local school leaders to speak at your next chamber meeting about their efforts to help students graduate college- and career-ready.

• Publicly support college- and career-ready standards and assessments in newsletters, letters to the editor and speeches.

Now is the Time to Get Involved There is much work to be done before the full scale implementation of the test system in 2014–2015. By getting involved now, business leaders have the opportunity to work in partnership with schools and districts and shape new policies and practices that are being put into place.


More Time to Teach!

Give Yourself More Time To Teach

As this year draws to an end, start a new mind set for how you would like to begin the next year while information is fresh in your head.

Set up Rules and Routines:

Rules and routines keep your class running smoothly so that you have more time for teaching academics. Here are some ideas for establishing, using, and reinforcing rules and routines.

Rules: Rules are just like other instructional activities. They have to be taught, reviewed, and reinforced if they are to be remembered. As we start the year, the teaching of rules and routines is the first activity we should accomplish. Once this has been done, we can begin to teach and will teach more by the end of the year than if we had simply handed out books and started instruction.

Introduce each rule and discuss the variety of behaviors that the rule might include. Reinforce students who are following the rules. Thank them for their consideration. At the elementary level,reinforcement can be done aloud. Upper grade, middle, and high school students can be thanked quietly and privately.

Rules should be both written and taught to students at the beginning of the year. Guidelines for establishing rules are:

• Involve the class in making the rules.

• Keep the rules short and easy to understand.

• Phrase the rules in a positive way.

• Remind the class of the rules at times other than when someone has misbehaved.

• Make different rules for different kinds of activities.

• Key children in to when different rules apply.

• Post the rules and review them periodically.

• If a rule isn’t working, change it.

Routines: Routines refer to specific behaviors and activities that are taught in order to provide smooth,uninterrupted class operation.  Routines, carefully taught, can save large amounts of time during the year. When students know exactly what is expected of them in a variety of situations, the time saved can be spent teaching rather than organizing or disciplining.

Develop, teach, and enforce a specific routine for these basic situations:

  • Passing papers
  • Leaving to go to the restroom
  • Sharpening pencils
  • Heading of papers
  • Getting supplies and books
  • Working in small groups
  • Dismissing the class
  • When assignments are complete
  • Putting away materials
  • Safety routines
  • Taking attendance
  • Administrative Procedures
  • What are students to do while roll, lunch count, and
  • housekeeping items are completed?
  • What are the procedures for students who are tardy,
  • have excuses, or leave early?
  • What are the routines for hall and playground
  • behaviors, e.g., lining up, walking in the halls,
  • passing time, lockers, lunchroom, restrooms?
  • What are the school or district procedures that must
  • be followed?
Adapted from National Education Association’s “I
Can Do It” Classroom Management training module,
developed by California Teachers Association.



Marzano Strategies for Implementing Best Online Teaching Practices

TBVA/PIE powered by Edgenuity is excited to share that we still love Marzano’s work and his input about online learning.  We share these views with Dr. Marzano.

Dr. Robert Marzano is a well-known educator that cofounded and is CEO of Marzano Research Laboratory (MRL).  As 21st century learning and technology continue to combine, the MRL has set up strategies for implementing best online teaching practices.

Best Practice:  Communicating course/assignment rules and procedures:


• Provide clear course policies and procedures at the beginning of the course/assignment.

• Provide clear information about the timeline for the course, including all assignments, assessments, and course activities.

• Provide clear information about methods of instructor-to-student communication and about all student course support resources.

• Ensure that all students have directions, resources, and a working understanding of how to navigate and successfully operate all student systems within the online learning environment prior to engagement with the course content.

Best Practice: Clearly presenting the goal/objective for each assignment


Provide or reinforce clearly stated course goals and learning objectives for each major concept within the course.

Best Practice: Providing students with all materials needed to complete an assignment


• Provide multiple learning resources with engaging and meaningful learning activities.

• Provide clear and complete instructions (how to proceed, assignment requirements, and assessment expectations) with rubrics for all activities. .

• Provide information about student course support resources.

Best Practice: Offering encouragement and positive feedback to students


• Begin interacting with students early in a course to affirm each student’s successful participation.

• Provide timely, supportive, individualized, and frequent feedback on student progress that emphasizes

the intended learning outcome.

• Analyze a student’s mastery level of standards content and provide additional instruction to help the student meet mastery level.

Best Practice: Allowing students to keep track of their learning progress


• Provide resources that allow students to self-monitor their academic progress throughout the course.

• Provide timely and meaningful feedback on assignments, assessments, and related course learning activities, allowing students to be continuously aware of their progress in the course.

Best Practice: Accessibility to students via electronic communication as well as face-to-face


Facilitate meaningful and timely communications (electronically and face to face).

Best Practice: Monitoring student work


• Closely monitor individual student data to guide instruction and provide intervention activities for unsuccessful learners.

• Identify and monitor course assessments that correlate to state high-stakes tests to assure mastery of those key concepts and provide additional learning experiences when needed.

Best Practice: Knowing every student by name and being able to recognize them outside of the online environment


• Communicate with each student prior to, or early in, a course to answer any questions and to build a

supportive instructor-to-student relationship.

• Provide a supportive and engaging learning community environment for all students.

Best Practice: Allowing students to progress through assignments at their own pace


• Ensure that the curriculum is at the correct level for students and has appropriate rigor.

• Provide multiple learning pathways based on student ability to achieve content mastery.

• Provide ample assessment styles throughout the course to monitor student mastery of content and provide remedial instruction when needed.

Best Practice: Providing help to understand and practice new knowledge


• Provide synchronous learning activities in large and small learning groups to support key concepts within the course content.

• Provide multiple opportunities for students to be actively engaged in content that includes meaningful and authentic learning experiences, such as collaborative learning groups, student-led review sessions, instructional games, analysis, discussions, case studies, etc.

• Provide a wide range of activities, assignments, assessments, and resources to allow students to demonstrate mastery of content.

• Provide high-level thinking and critical reasoning activities in increasing complexity throughout a course.

Best Practice: Allowing students to ask questions during online course/assignment


• Foster teacher-student and student-to-student interaction.

• Ensure students have accessibility through various communication methods.

Best Practice: Treating all students equally


• Provide multiple learning resources with engaging and meaningful learning activities to all students.

Best Practice: Adding external resources to assignments aligned to local objectives


•Adapt the course content to meet students’ needs by providing additional assignments, resources, and activities for remediation or enrichment during the course experience.

• Assure that course content, assignments, and assessments are of appropriate rigor and align to state standards.

• Augment, as needed, course content, learning activities, and assessments to meet all required standards within a course.