Podcast #17 Formative Assessment: A Conversation with Dylan Wiliam

Formative Assessment News Podcasts Professional Learning Research & Theory

Dylan Wiliam is a world-renowned educational leader and researcher, specializing in teacher development and formative assessment. On today’s podcast, Dylan shares the key aspects of formative assessment. He offers his thoughts on teacher development. And he shares some practical ideas to consider for your teaching.

In addition to hearing Dylan speak about formative assessment and learning, there are some useful links included below.

On Feb 1, 2017, Dylan will be speaking at Oakland Schools. The workshop will focus on embedding formative assessment into daily practice. You can learn more about this workshop, and you can register for the event, by visiting this page.

Additional Links

The Dylan Wiliam website

Practical Ideas for Formative Assessment

Classroom Assessment Minute by Minute

Listen to this podcast on iTunes



Podcast #16 Heidi Kattula – Executive Director of District and School Services at Oakland Schools

News Podcasts Professional Learning Uncategorized


heidi_2In July 2016, Oakland Schools had a significant reorganization. During this reorganization, smaller units were formed from the existing larger departments, and some additional administrative roles were created. A number of these units are part of the District and School Services. Dr. Heidi Kattula is the Executive Director of District and School Services at Oakland Schools.

In this podcast, Heidi talks about how the reorganization can support Oakland County educators. She discusses some of the exciting innovations in education and some of the challenges. And she shares some personal information as to who she is.

Click here to listen to this podcast through iTunes.


M-STEP Spring 2015 Student Supports and Accommodations Webinar

News Uncategorized

From MDE’s Spotlight on Student Assessment & Accountability Newsletter:

These webinars will focus on what you need to know to be up to date with the latest information regarding the students supports and accommodations guidelines for the M-STEP summative assessments.

Topics will include Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations, as well as which students qualify for these accommodations and supports during this spring’s testing cycle.

Dates of the webinars:

  • February 10 and 11: 8:00–9:00 A.M. and 2:00–3:00 P.M.
  • March 3 and 4: 8:00–9:00 A.M. and 2:00–3:00 P.M.

Participants need to only attend one of the sessions. To register for these webinars, please send an e-mail to baa@ michigan.gov with the subject line Student Supports and Accommodations Webinar and include the date and time you wish to attend.

Interested participants may also call 517-373-7559.

Moving from the ACT to the SAT in 2016


The Michigan Department of Education announced this shift yesterday.  For more information, see the press release below.


MDE News Release

Contact:    Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs, (517) 241-4395

                  Caleb Buhs, Michigan DTMB, (517) 241-7422

State Awards Future College Assessment to College Board’s SAT for Michigan Students

January 7, 2015

LANSING –- All Michigan high school juniors will begin taking the SAT as the state-administered college assessment exam beginning in 2016 after the College Board won the three-year competitively-bid contract, the Michigan Department of Education and Department of Technology, Management and Budget jointly announced today.

The College Board administers the SAT, a globally-recognized college admission test that lets students show colleges what they know and how well they can apply that knowledge. It tests students’ knowledge of reading, writing and math — subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms in Michigan.

ACT, Inc. will continue to provide its WorkKeys assessment for all high school students. Both the college entrance assessment and work skills tests are required in state law to be provided free to all high school students, and each is periodically competitively bid through the state’s structured procurement process, as directed by the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB).

 “The College Board’s SAT test is respected and used around the country,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, “and Michigan high schools work with them now through their Advanced Placement program that helps students earn college credits while in high school.

“Their bid was rated the highest; provides valuable assistance to Michigan educators, students, and parents; is more aligned to Michigan’s content standards; and saves the state millions of dollars over the course of the three-year contract,” Flanagan said.

The College Board’s bid was $15.4 million less over the three-year contract than the next bidder and scored 10 percentage points higher by the Joint Evaluation Committee (JEC). In addition to staff from MDE and DTMB, the evaluation committee also included members representing the education community, including a high school principal; local school superintendent; a testing and assessment consultant from an intermediate school district; and a vice president from a Michigan community college.

Bill Barnes, principal at Charlotte High School and member of the JEC said: “The attention to detail with which the College Board created its proposal and the extensive resources that it will provide to schools and students to help them prepare for the test, make its college readiness assessment the best choice for Michigan.”

Another member of the Joint Evaluation Committee, Jim Gullen, a data and evaluation consultant for the Macomb Intermediate School District, said: “After two days of review and discussion, there was no question that College Board put forth the best proposal. Considering the quality of College Board’s proposal, the value presented in the pricing, and our current legislation, it is a good time to transition to the SAT to assess Michigan’s high school students’ mastery of the Michigan curriculum.”

Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT and the Advanced Placement program. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is forming a team that will include the local, regional, and community college members of the Joint Evaluation Committee to assist in the transition to the SAT. In addition, the department will hold an onsite meeting with the College Board to discuss how it intends to positively affect the transition for Michigan schools, educators, parents, and students.

In its successful bid, the College Board included the following value-added components that will benefit Michigan schools and families:

  • Beginning in Spring 2015, the College Board will provide all schools and students with free test prep materials and online practice tests to help students prepare for the redesigned SAT in 2016.
  • Professional Development
    • In-person and technology-based training for local test administrators, proctors, and technology coordinators
    • Professional development for teachers, students, and parents in understanding the new SAT and analyzing test results
    • Professional development for post-secondary enrollment professionals in using the data/resources for admissions and financial aid decisions
  • An updated and relevant assessment
    • Redesigned SAT beginning in 2016
    • Aligned to Michigan content standards, evidence-based design
    • Additional item types beyond multiple choice
    • New forms developed each year
    • Reports available online
  • Simplification and reduction of school staff effort to request testing accommodations
    • No need to reapply for testing accommodations if already approved for the Advanced Placement Program, or the PSAT testing for National Merit Scholarship Qualification Test

The college entrance exam and work skills assessment are given free to approximately 115,000 Michigan high school students each year.

ACT WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce.  This series of tests measures foundational and soft skills and offers specialized assessments to target institutional needs.

As part of ACT’s Work Readiness System, ACT WorkKeys has helped millions of people in high schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses, and government agencies build their skills to increase global competitiveness and develop successful career pathways.

Successful completion of ACT WorkKeys assessments in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information can lead to earning ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC), a portable credential earned by more than 2.3 million people across the United States.

Michigan high school students have taken the WorkKeys assessment since 2007.  Over 413,000 Michigan students have received an NCRC credential.

Although the contracts await final completion and approval of the State Administrative Board, the three-year contract for the college entrance assessment will cost approximately $17.1 million, and the three-year work skills assessment will cost approximately $12.2 million.

More Details on Spring 2015 M-STEP Testing


M-Step-Logo_473059_7We have a few more details about the tests that will be given in the spring, including types of tests at each grade level. A batch of sample items is in production now. This sample will be available “shortly” to all schools and will demonstrate the online functions and tools of the M-STEP.

The ELA Spring 2015 M-STEP is a comprehensive ELA model:

·         Grades 3-8: Smarter Balanced content plus Michigan-developed field-test items. This will include a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), a Classroom Activity, and a Performance Task.

·         Grade 11: Smarter Balanced content plus Michigan-developed field-test items. This will include a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), a Classroom Activity, and a Performance Task. This is in addition to the ACT plus Writing and Work-Keys.

·         The M-STEP (grades 3-8, 11) will include items from the following Michigan Standards: reading, writing, language, listening.

The most current assessment transition document outlines the details for the M-STEP.  For additional information, click here.

To get up to date news on the state assessments, subscribe to MDE’s Spotlight on Assessment and Accountability Newsletter.

Standardized Testing Update

Legislative Updates News

MDE just put out this news release with details about the standardized assessment for spring 2015.


November 13, 2014

LANSING – Michigan’s public schools can begin moving forward in their planning for the online statewide student assessment in the Spring of 2015. The Michigan Department of Education announced today its updated assessment system, called the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP).

“This is great news for our local school districts,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “They’ve been very anxious to hear what the new assessment will be, as we developed a new test to comply with legislatively-mandated changes.”

The new assessment was required by the state legislature for the Spring 2015 testing period. The legislature also required the Department of Education to re-bid its long-term assessment system that will begin in the Spring of 2016.

The new assessment meets all of the requirements put into law by the legislature; that it be: an online assessment, with a paper-and-pencil option; aligned to the state standards; expanding writing assessments to additional grades; providing an increased number of constructed response test questions so that pupils can demonstrate higher-order skills, such as problem solving and communicating reasoning; and pilot tested before statewide implementation.

M-STEP replaces the 44-year-old MEAP test, which was not online and measured the previous state standards. The Spring 2015 assessment will include Michigan-created content, as well as content developed by the multi-state Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Educators from Michigan public schools helped develop and write test content that will appear on M-STEP.


“The changes in law diverted what the department and local school districts had been developing and preparing for over the past three years,” Flanagan said. “It put schools in some unwelcomed limbo while our experts scrambled to find testing content that met the legislative requirements.”

The assessment for Spring 2015 is a one-year stopgap until the long-term assessment is awarded through the re-bidding process.

M-STEP includes the following assessments:

  •   A Spring summative assessment for grades 3-8
  •   A Michigan Merit Exam (MME) for grade 11, which includes a college entrance exam; a work skills component; and a summative component aligned to Michigan content standards

This will be the first time all statewide assessments will be administered online. To help prepare, nearly 1,900 Michigan schools have performed pilot online testing over the past three and a half years. The state Legislature has invested more than $100 million over the past two years to help get local districts technology-ready for the new assessments. To date, over 80 percent of schools meet the minimum technology requirement for the new assessment.

There still will be a paper-and-pencil option for schools if they believe they are not ready with the minimal technology requirements. Districts have until November 21 to request a waiver to administer the paper/pencil test. Due to the cost concerns of preparing the separate online and paper/pencil formats, and wanting to be the best stewards of public funds, MDE will not entertain change requests beyond that November 21 deadline date.

The entire Michigan Merit Exam for the Spring of 2015 will take longer for local schools to administer due to requirements in state law.


The high school test requires additional time because the college entrance and work skills tests that Michigan currently is contracted to use, do not measure the state’s standards for English language arts and mathematics. The move to more rigorous standards requires additional types of test questions not present on those assessments. As a result, the state is required to provide additional testing to ensure state and federal laws that require measurement of the state’s standards are met.

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has allowed a few states to get a federal flexibility waiver with a future plan to use only a college-entrance exam like ACT. However, USED cannot waive the Michigan law that requires the state assessments be aligned to the state standards.

The majority of schools that are testing online will have greater flexibility and can configure testing, as desired, within the eight-week window the department has provided them. This provides ample opportunity for schools to plan their testing times. There will be eight partial days of testing for the paper/pencil option of the high school test in the spring. This option, which should be used only by those continuing to prepare their buildings for online testing, must continue to be spread in this fashion to assure adequate testing security.

School Accountability

MDE will be working with the USED to update Michigan’s school accountability model used in its flexibility waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. These updates would recognize the changes in statewide assessments and improvements in identifying student academic growth and learning.

In these discussions with USED, it will be the Michigan Department of Education’s intent to use the test data from this transitional year for a trial run of a revised accountability system. It is the intent of the Department that the results of the trial run of accountability would be shared with schools and districts for local decision making, but that no consequences would be applied.

The Department encourages local districts to use the data to inform classroom instruction; student and school improvement planning; and local programming decisions.

Educator and Administrator Evaluations

Schools will be provided student-level growth data for use in teacher and administrator evaluations. Because these educator evaluations are still determined by local school districts, how local districts choose to use the data in the evaluations is up to each district.


For more information on M-STEP, log on to: http://www.michigan.gov/mstep 

Detroit Pistons Make ELA Videos for Oakland County Teachers & Students

Literacy & Technology News Video

The Detroit Pistons have produced two videos, starring basketball legend and sports commentator Greg Kelser, for Oakland Schools.  As part of their outreach efforts in public education, The Pistons filmed the two videos focused on important literacy concepts.  The videos are embedded below.  The first concerns how to defend a claim with evidence and the second one is about point of view.  Please feel free to use these short clips in the classroom to introduce these ideas to your students.

Michigan Merit Curriculum Bill Update

Legislative Updates News

173260217Last week, three bills (SB 66) related to the Michigan Merit Curriculum were discharged from Senate Committee to the Senate Floor. Senate Bill 66, which Oakland Schools supports, was unanimously approved with no changes by the House Education Committee on Wednesday.

SB 66 would amend the Revised School Code regarding the fulfillment of Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements for a high school diploma through a career and technical education (CTE) program. If a district requested information from the Department of Education about CTE programs that meet the requirements of the merit curriculum, that information would have to be furnished within a reasonable time. CTE best practices would also have to be posted on the Department website.  The bill would also require a school board to ensure that students were fully informed about how their graduation requirements could be fulfilled with CTE or another Department-approved program. School Districts would be “strongly encouraged” to establish programs whose completion, after high school graduation, would be credited toward achievement of a professional certificate, training, apprenticeship, or college credit in a specific career and technical field.

The bill is awaiting action on the House Floor.

Teacher Evaluation Bills Have Hearings, Delay of Current Law Moves

Legislative Updates News

488895599As discussed in a previous blog post, Senate Bill 817 (Pappageorge, R-Troy) would amend the Revised School Code to delay the implementation of teacher and school administrator performance evaluation requirements, including conditions for the use of student growth and assessment data in conducting the evaluations.

House Education Committee reported the bill unanimously (with two members abstaining from the vote, Reps. Hooker and McMillin), and the bill is awaiting action on the House Floor.  This bill will likely move as the House now recognizes that the Senate will not be finalizing the full evaluation bills before the deadline passes for implementing the current law.

Senate Education held its first hearing on those larger bills, House Bills 5223 and 5224, this week.  During the hearing, the bill sponsors acknowledged further work is needed and the Committee Chairman noted his intention to hold more hearings and work on the bill into the fall.

Oakland Schools supports passage of SB 817 immediately, given that all schools would be out of compliance with law as of June 30, 2014, through no fault of their own.

3rd Grade Retention Bill Update (House Bills 5111 (H-3) and HB 5144)

Legislative Updates News

463838707Legislators in the House are hearing that the 3rd grade retention legislation may come up for a vote before summer break.

While the changes to the bills allow more flexibility, they still ultimately mandate retention for children in 3rd grade for up to two times, even though research on retention shows negative and harmful effects.

Further, one major issue still exists, which is that funding is not included in either of these bills.  While HB 5144 directs the MDE to seek public and private funding for the pilot projects required in the bill and the legislature is directed to fund the programs, the bills themselves do not contain funding and are, therefore, still an unfunded mandate.  Oakland Schools opposes the legislation.

Many legislators have concerns about the bills.  The concerns center on the effectiveness (or lack of effectiveness) for retention as a policy, the unfunded costs in the bills, and the impact on schools of a large group of children being retained for up to 2 years.

Legislative Content

HB 5111 would require children to be held back in 3rd grade until they reach proficiency level on the state assessment for reading.  The substitute that was reported included significant changes from the original bill aimed at offering exemptions to the retention law for children under certain circumstances.

Further, the bill pushes off the mandate for retention by starting with children in first grade this year, thus giving districts a chance to move more children to proficiency through targeted intervention prior to a child reaching the 3rd grade retention requirement.  The substitute allows the local superintendent to grant a good cause exemption to retention for the following reasons:
a)  The pupil has demonstrated 3rd grade reading on an alternative assessment approved by the State Superintendent.

b)  The pupil has demonstrated 3rd grade reading through a pupil portfolio through multiple work samples.

c)  The pupil is a student with a disability and the IEP indicates that participation in the state reading assessment is not appropriate.

d)  The pupil is a limited English proficient student who has had less than 2 years of instruction in an English language learner program.
The exemption can be initiated by the parents or the pupil’s teacher and must go through the principal and to the superintendent (or chief administrator for a charter).  Children who receive an exemption and are enrolled in 4th grade must be provided with intensive reading instruction and intervention with specialized diagnostic information and reading strategies. Students may retake the grade 3 assessment before grade 4 for a second chance to show proficiency.  The bill limits retention to two school years per student.

115530971 (1)Finally, the bill was amended in committee to prohibit MDE from including a social studies component on the grade 3 state assessments or any pilot of that assessment in order to further the goal of reading proficiency.

Legislation with further interventions, HB 5144, was reported from committee as well.  House Bill 5144 would require the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to adopt policies and programs to enable more Michigan children to attain proficiency in reading by the end of grade 3.  The MDE is required to submit a report to the legislature identifying reading programs that have been demonstrated to work and then MDE would have to recommend or develop a program that focuses on diagnostic evaluation, early intervention, tutoring, and mentoring.

Further for 2014-15, MDE would be required to implement a pilot program serving up to 400 K-2 students in up to four school districts.  Local districts are required to help ensure 3rd grade reading proficiency by using effective screening instruments to identify students having early literacy delays in grades K-3, notify parents of identified children, use intensive intervention for those students, and submit data to MDE.

Click below to watch Oakland Schools’ video statement on the proposed bill.