In February 2015, alliance members participated in a workshop titled "Getting Ready for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Assessments in Louisiana Charter Schools." The workshop was designed to build members' capacity to understand the what and how of the PARCC Common Core assessments. Dr. Joan Herman, director emeritus of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA, discussed the development of the PARCC assessment and the shifts in what is being asked of students. Alicja Witkowski, Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), facilitated a session to help increase participants' knowledge of the PARCC math practice tests, including how to access them, best uses and cautions, and how to analyze item types and interpret results.
Workshop participants also deepened their understanding of how the Common Core State Standards in math have shifted to a stronger focus on college and career readiness and mathematics implementation support; gained a deeper awareness of the design, organization, and major instructional shifts of the Common Core State Standards in English language arts; and learned about instructional practices that support learning progressions and how students' must demonstrate literacy skills on the PARCC assessments.
During this quarter, the alliance liaison also worked to recruit new members. In March, the liaison conducted a site visit to the office of Statewide Monitoring, LDOE, as an effort to increase state education agency representation on the alliance. Meeting topics included the REL Program's purpose and goals, the REL Southwest's projects and activities, and the alliance's goals, priorities, and research agenda. On April 1, the liaison conducted a presentation (by invitation) at the annual meeting of the Type 2 charter school administrators, held in Algiers, Louisiana. More than 50 Type 2 charter school leaders (including a few alliance members) attended and learned about the REL Southwest and the alliance. The goal of the presentation was to strengthen the relationship between the REL Southwest and the LDOE and to recruit more Type 2 charters to join the alliance. In April, the liaison also met with newly recruited alliance members to discuss the work of the REL Southwest and the alliance and to identify a potential fast response project.