Revisiting the Smarter Balanced Placement Agreement: Your Feedback Wanted!

The 2017 Legislature passed a law making significant changes to the K-12 assessment requirement, including shifting the timing of the high school assessment from the 11th grade to the 10th.  This was already the case in practice for English but NOT for math.

This shift means we need to revisit our placement agreements, so a work group met in December to recommend changes in the language in order to maintain the agreement.

We are seeking feedback on the recommendations before we take them to our system leadership for final approval.

  • Proposed Changes to Math:
  • Proposed Changes to English:

Each document includes

  1. Recommendations
  2. Background to the new law
  3. Link to a Google form for providing feedback

The deadline for input is February 28th, 2018.

Want More Information?

The Original System Work:

If you’re interested in more details about the assessment itself (what the levels mean; definitions of scale scores and threshold achievement descriptors, etc.), see this page on the Smarter Balanced web site.

Feel free to share as widely as you’d like with colleagues who would like to provide some feedback.

Questions? Contact Bill Moore at

Turning Students from “Under-prepared” to “College Ready”: Learning from the Data

Peninsula College LogoWith generous funding from College Spark Washington, Peninsula College designed and implemented a two year high support accelerated learning project.

During this project, more than 60% of their “under prepared” students successfully completed college level math and English within two years— 98% in English and 40% in math.

Eve WallisHow did Peninsula College dramatically increase these student success outcomes?

The data they collected during the project has some interesting answers!

During this webinar, Eve Wallis, Math and Student Success Instructor, shares not only the data, but also the key factors of this success.

Watch the Webinar:

Download the Slides:

Questions?  Contact Eve at




How to Make the Old New

As January comes to an end and we grow more firmly ensconced in the new year, I have been writing a lot.  In my role as program administrator for faculty development at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), my intention to do more of the two things:

  • Sensemaking
  • Sensegiving

Note: These two acts are iterative and twinned processes.  If you want to read more, I highly recommend Adriana Kezar’s article “Sensemaking/Sensegiving.”

But for now, here’s the quick and dirty: I first attempt to “make sense” of complexity . . . and then I try to create opportunities for others that provide them access to what I have made sense of.

An example of this is the Assessment, Teaching, and Learning Podcast.

Continue reading

Behind the Scenes Look at the 2018 ATL Conference Theme

A few days ago, I woke up to an e-mail from a faculty member in the system that made me breathe a deep sigh of relief.

In the e-mail, this dedicated and passionate chemistry professor posed a question about the upcoming 2018 ATL Conference:

Centering Student Learning: Connecting Completions, Equity, and Guided Pathways

She wrote


“This theme is right on target!  Wow!  It’s like you crawled inside my head and plucked out professional development needs and community information sharing desires!”

Lest you think this post is purely self-congratulatory, I’d like to let you in on a little secret.  The night before, I had woken up around 2AM thinking panicked thoughts about the Call for Proposals I posted to this blog and to the ATLC listserv.

Thoughts like . . . Am I completely out of touch with your lived reality as a faculty member?  Have I mindlessly drank drunk the Kool-Aid?  Did I just create the most boring conference theme in history?     

Continue reading

What Happens When Writing is Listening

This summer, I attended a writing workshop where the facilitator said something that really struck me:

“Writing well is actually an act of listening and listening to others helps you hone that skill.”

One of my personal and professional goals since I started my position as program administrator for faculty development in August of 2013 is to write blog posts that are more than just announcements.

There are 8500 faculty who teach in our community and technical colleges in Washington State, and I want to write blog posts that truly serve you.

When I was a faculty member, I found myself frequently overwhelmed by the growing complexity of teaching and the work.  Since I’ve left the classroom, my job as a faculty professional developer means I get to talk to faculty from around the state on a daily basis.

From what I hear about the problems of practice you face on a daily basis, I know teaching has gotten even more complex since I left the classroom.

However, to produce the kinds of blog entries that might possibly help you, I needed to know more about what you are facing.

While there are lots of ways that writing well is listening, I took the advice from the writing facilitator very literally.  So, to help me write well for you, I created what I called a “Faculty Success Survey.”

In the survey, I asked you to tell me about your challenges to success in two key areas:

  • the classroom
  • their organization

184 of you responded.

I spent most of December reading the survey responses and looking for patterns, themes, trends, and other insights that I could use to create the kind of writing that listens well . . . that listens to you.

Over the course of the next year, each week I’ll write a blog post on what I’ve discovered and what I’m discovering.

For now, I want to highlight and acknowledge this memorable and provocative insight from the survey.  One faculty member wrote,

“Find out from us what we want, don’t just offer what you think you need.”

I’m hoping that each week, as I listen and write more through this blog about what emerged in the survey, I will be better able to do just this– provide offerings that you really want.

If you missed participating in the survey and would still like to, it’s not too late!

Take the Survey Now!

If you choose to take the survey, there’s also an option to provide me with your e-mail address for a follow-up interview.  I plan to do the interviews this summer, after I’ve processed the initial information from the survey.

Do You Want to Share Your Expertise?

The Assessment, Teaching, and Learning (ATL) department
of the
Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC)




2018 Assessment, Teaching, and Learning Conference
Centering Student Learning: 
Connecting Completions, Equity, and Guided Pathways

Submit a Proposal

Submission Deadline
February 2nd, 2018, 5pm

2018 ATL Conference strands
Equity and Inclusive Excellence
Pathways: Design, Models, Approaches
Faculty Leadership for Student Learning
Frameworks for Improving Learning
Assessment of Learning Outcomes

More Information
About the Conference
Call for Proposals

Don’t hesitate to contact Jennifer Whetham
Program Administrator, Faculty Development