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Nassau BOCES pilots innovative, computer-based measures of college readiness





Hear students talk about the test! Educators and eighth-graders from Herricks and North Shore school districts sound off about their participation in a major pilot of innovative, computer-based simulations designed to measure critical thinking, creativity and collaboration skills. Download the video (MPEG-4; 81 MB).


Nassau BOCES announced today that it is participating in a major pilot of new measures of college readiness that will enable all students to graduate ready to be globally competitive. Led by Pearson's Research & Innovation Network Center for College & Career Success, this initiative is part of a major R&D project to develop a methodology for large-scale, innovative, computer-based approaches for the assessment of college and career readiness using innovative and digital approaches.

As a regional educational services provider, Nassau BOCES is always looking for cutting-edge opportunities for its component school districts. The agency collaborated with the Herricks and North Shore school districts, where eighth-grade students piloted the new activities. Students from each district were asked to engage with and respond to two activities that measure critical thinking, communication and collaboration, or creativity in the context of English Language Arts and Mathematics Common Core Standards. These students are part of a global pilot of the new measures that includes more than 800 other students from the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Turkey, South Africa and Israel.

"We are thrilled to be one of only three places in the United States selected to participate in this pilot," said Dr. Thomas Rogers, District Superintendent of Nassau BOCES. "Our partnership with Pearson is an exciting opportunity for Nassau County school districts to be on the cutting edge of assessments that engage students and analyze their abilities in 21st-century skills."

"For years everyone has said that they would like to use assessments that measured 21st century skills if only such assessments were available," said Jack Bierwirth, Superintendent of Herricks UFSD. "We were excited when one of the prominent educational companies in the world stepped up to try to develop such an assessment. It was a great experience for our teachers and students to participate in the pilot. We eagerly await a full roll-out for use by schools who are fully committed to preparing their students with the higher-order skills necessary to be college and career ready."

"I have never seen students more intellectually engaged and interested in taking a test," said Rob Chlebicki, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction at North Shore CSD.  "Instinctively, students know what matters most in learning -- their ability to think and solve problems.  These assessments asked students to do just that.  Not only are these assessments a 'gift' to students, but they are also an answer to the prayer of educators who have asked for tests that measure what matters most."

These innovative activities, developed by Pearson's team of researchers, content specialists, and psychometricians, measure critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration in the context of interdisciplinary themes, such as environmental literacy, as well as in the core subjects of mathematics and English language arts. Delivered in a rich simulated environment, the activities allow students to demonstrate their skills in authentic and engaging situations. Performance activities, similar to the ones that the Nassau BOCES, Herricks and North Shore students are piloting, are being incorporated into major assessment initiatives such as the 2015 Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA), the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the assessments being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

"These new, innovative measures of student college readiness will provide educators with a critical tool for measuring and developing students' critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills which are requisite for success in our global economy. These new indicators can provide early warnings when a student veers off path, allow early and effective intervention, and truly personalized learning," said Katie McClarty, Ph.D., Director of Pearson's Center for College & Career Success. "By collaborating with us on this important pilot, Dr. Rogers, his team at the Nassau BOCES, and the teachers and students they serve are helping us test and refine these measures so that we provide educators with the tools they need to enable all students to graduate from high school prepared for college and career success."