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Report Writing Day Two

We had our second SKiP call this afternoon on the topic of writing annual accreditation reports for the ECADA process. Today, there were eight people on the call from South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Idaho, and Alaska.

We started off talking about how participants are getting used to using their rubrics and collecting data. It does feel a bit overwhelming at first! Many people on the call talked about the importance of thinking about this as an ongoing process. We want to have everything finished and prepared, yet the process and procedures need to be fluid enough so that we can make changes based on the assessment information we are gathering. I think that really is the key to it all – easier said than done, I know!

There were a couple folks on the call who use online data collection and storage systems such as TaskStream and LiveText which work very well in terms of collecting, analyzing and storing assessment data.

Others use a simple Excel spreadsheet. For example:

The coordinator provides the spreadsheet template to all instructors and they enter the data and submit it back to her. It has one page with total grades for each assignment. One page has attendance. The third page has the break down of the key assessments and the fourth page is looking at some questions she asks about their class for that semester. She uses this for NAEYC and regional accreditation. The instructors have become familiar with submitting the data to her each semester as it is part of their routine. The coordinator can then run reports and look at the averages and so forth.

I will share that I have explored using SurveyMonkey to collect assessment data from multiple instructors. I use the professional account to create surveys that correspond with our key assessment rubrics and then instructors use a link to the survey to enter their data. Feel free to take a look at this DEMO survey which illustrates our key assessment on documentation. It is just a demo so feel free to interact with the survey to see what it is like to enter data this way. Below, is an example of a chart I generated from the survey results one semester.

People chatted about what they have found in their data so far. One person shared that once they could see what the data were telling them, they were able to add learning opportunities throughout the program that would help students build the skills they need in order to be successful with the key assessments. For example, someone talked about noticing that the students’ planning skills were weak during the practicum semester. They decided to build-in additional learning opportunities around planning earlier in the program in order to scaffold students through that planning process and she has noticed an improvement.

One process that was shared is that once the data are collected, a report is sent out to all faculty who examine the results and then discuss what it means to them and how they will make use of the data to make changes.


One question that was asked had to do with faculty buy-in to the accreditation process with a particular concern about adjunct faculty. I shared that we have done orientation sessions for our faculty where we invited everyone to attend and I did a workshop on how to use the key assessments. This was an important step when we were introducing an online data collection system as many of our adjuncts were uncomfortable with learning this new step.

I have also found that partnering with the adjuncts one-on-one has been an effective strategy. We have a big enough program where we decided it was best to develop a faculty partner system. Each full-time faculty member partners with a small group of adjuncts. The partnership is usually based on scheduling so it is convenient for partners to meet together before or after their classes. This provides a good opportunity to build a learning community that includes full-time and part-time instructors. We also do a lot of outreach to adjuncts to ask them their opinions about the rubrics – do they make sense? are they helpful? are there pieces we should change? do you see connections between what you are doing in class (learning opportunities) and what we are asking for in the key assessments?

Based on those conversations, we made a major change to one key assessment. Initially, we had an assessment that focused on activity planning. After discussing this with our adjuncts who all work in the field, we learned that what is really needed is for ECE teachers to understand how to critique lesson plans so they can be a good judge of whether or not the plans are developmentally, culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse – for example. We changed our whole key assessment and now call it the “Lesson Plan Analysis” rubric. Students analyze lesson plans and the instructors assess their analysis using the rubric.

Kathy Allen, VP of Collaborations and facilitator of these SKiP sessions, has shared more reflections below on how she is using the assessment report system. This was really generous and I’m grateful to be able to examine how she reports her data.

Here is the document: Examples of data we have collected over the years.

The message below is from Kathy:

The example report found in the link above is organized by standard and is broken out by key element for each standard. In this report you can also see what key assessment is addressed.  If a key element of a standard is addressed more than once in the key assessments, it will appear how ever many times it is assessed. For example- Key Elements 1a and 1b are both in the Lesson Plan Unit and the Child Case Study.

So this report shows us both how students are doing on the standards and also on the assessment itself. For example- Students are performing better on key element 1b in the Child Case Study (89%) than they are on 1b in the Lesson Plan Unit (83%). If this were a significant difference we would take a look at the Lesson Plan Unit and how we could give students more opportunities to learn and practice 1b: Knowing and understanding the multiple influences on development and learning.

What jumps out at me when looking at this data:

Standard 3b:  78% – This is low, and it’s also only assessed one time over the five key assessments.

This means we need to discuss as a faculty what we are going to do to provide students more learning opportunities to practice knowing about and using observation, documentation and other appropriate assessment tools.

We are in the process of switching all our assessments over to the 6 standards so when we revise the key assessments we will include at least one other opportunity to assess 3b along with looking at our learning opportunities chart and see how we can provide more practice.

Also, as we look at revision of the key assessments in our program our goal is to have each key element and supportive skill assessed more than once across all assessments. You can see that that’s not the case right now. So it’s always a work in progress!

Comments? Questions?

Report Writing

I am going to try something new and blog during the SKiP call. I’m not sure if this level of multi-tasking is a good idea for me or not, but I’m willing to give it a try! Today we are meeting together to talk about the process of writing the annual accreditation reports for NAEYC/ECADA. I hope it will be a useful chat session. I have been thinking all morning about this time of year and how difficult it can be to manage all of the deadlines that seem to converge during the spring semester. I know that some folks write their annual reports in the fall and I’m sure that is a very busy time too. In my life, spring is when everything seems to be due – grant reports, budgets, schedules, etc. All projects that have been going on for the academic year must come to some kind of close and there is a saying on my campus that if it doesn’t get done in April, it won’t get done until the fall semester. Maybe that is why there is so much pressure – we need to complete things before we adjourn for the summer session.

Luckily, the annual accreditation report is not that bad..really. I have found that as long as we are collecting assessment data as we should, writing the report is fairly easy. The only trick is making sure that I have enough time to do a good job with the writing process.

Today, we are meeting and there are about 7 people on the call representing several different states including North Carolina, Illinois, Michigan, and Alaska. There is a wide range in terms of the programs represented and their schedule for self-study and annual report writing. Some of us on the call have been writing annual reports for several years and some folks are really just starting the self-study process. It is interesting to have a discussion across this range of experience with the ECADA process.

Kathy Allen is facilitating the call and she is anchoring the discussion to the Accreditation Handbook, which is located in the ICOHERE online community for ECADA participants. This is really helpful as it makes the report seem very “doable”.

There is a specific question about the timeline for transitioning to the revised standards. Kathy has directed folks to the timeline listed on the NAEYC website “Transition to New NAEYC Standards“. Please take a look at this for your reference.

We are now discussing the question of collecting data and thinking about how to interpret different results coming from two different sections of a course. In this case, one section is offered online and the other is offered in a face-to-face format. One wonders if the format contributes to the different data or if it has more to do with inter-rater reliability in terms of instructors using the rubric differently. This is an opportunity for collaboration among faculty. What is the learning opportunity for students to be able to demonstrate this outcome? How much is this activity weighted? Will that weight influence students and their motivation to do their best work on that particular activity? Good questions to think about!

We are now starting to talk about various issues such as when a student fails a course or drops a course – does the data from his/her work still “count”. In other words, is that data included in the annual report? Most folks on the call suggested that the way the data are collected, all data are used in the report. Does this skew the data in any way?

The final note we ended on was a reminder that the self-study and ongoing accreditation process is a strengths-based process. This is important for all of us to remember.

Kathy shared “Examples of data we have collected over the years“, which is a terrific document as it gives us a good example to look at in terms of how one can report on key assessment data.

It was fun to hear various voices on the call and I think the discussion was helpful to all who participated. I look forward to tomorrow’s call!

I hope you can join us!

SKiP call 2012: Reflective Practice part 2

This year, ACCESS is offering 2 opportunities to participate in each monthly SKiP call topic.

Today, we had the second offering of a conference call on Reflective Practice. It was really interesting to talk with a second group of colleagues and explore the different ways people are thinking about reflection: how they are working with students, and how they are working with their partners on campus.

SKiP Call notes: 2/10/12

There were 11 participants in today’s conference call from IA, IL, MA, MO, SC, and NC.

  • Linda talked about her concern about how to explain or teach reflection to her students so they can do it better. Participants agreed that having a list of questions is very helpful. Sarah described a protocol that she uses from an article in The ChildCare Exchange magazine, the Tuning Protocol that she finds very useful.  We also asked the question: “When do we reflect?” Do we model it? Do our students know that we value it?
  • Sandra described how she tries to let her students know why reflection is so important. She reads excerpts from Vivian Paley’s You Can’t Say You Can’t Play as a model of reflective practice.


  • Elaine discussed her observation that her students seem to have trouble putting their ideas down on paper, and there was a consensus that this is something we all experience. Students seem better able to talk about it. Lisa Talked about a successful strategy she uses to address this using peer review of each other’s writing with a rubric that specifies what to look for.
  • Debra talked about an article she just read that describes a reflection strategy involving “well-remembered events” (see reference below). Students write weekly about an event that stands out to them in their student teaching. They must first describe the event, then discuss what they think is the cause/ what influenced the event, and then discuss what the implications are for teaching.  This seems like an interesting approach to helping students reflect on experiences that are meaningful to them.  Sarah suggested that this represents metacognition, and that education today does not support reflection or thinking about thinking, so students do not have experience in reflective thinking.

Carter, K. Preservice teachers’ well-remembered events and the acquisition of event-structured knowledge. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 26 (3). 235-252.

  • Ellen described an article that she uses, The Power of Mindful Reflection, and how it talks about automatic thinking we tend to go to what we already know, which helps to explain why students need encouragement to go beyond their comfort-zone and put their ideas out to the group. Someone suggested that we, as professors, also seem to be wary of risk-taking in a group, and that we can be sensitive to this when we wonder why our students might not be comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas.
  • A question was asked about using video-taped sessions of students in the classroom as data for reflection. We suggested that the observation protocol submitted by Laurie after yesterday’s SKiP call was a potential tool for this.
  • Finally, a participant going through accreditation suggested that the experience of reflecting for the self-study gave the faculty in her program new insight and sensitivity to what it feels like to be required to reflect. The general consensus is the more we reflect, the more we will be able to offer our students opportunities to reflect and to scaffold their efforts.

SKiP Call 2012: Reflective Practice

Happy New Year!

It’s been a busy couple of months here at ACCESS headquarters. Those of you who are ACCESS members will be getting the next edition of the newsletter soon and at that point you will learn about all the exciting things going on.

Today, I would like to report on the first ACCESS SKiP call of the year. SKiP stands for

Shared Knowledge & Practices

and the SKiP committee, headed by ACCESS VP of Professional Development Debra Murphy, hosts several events each year including SKiP conference calls on various topics. Today, we met and discussed Reflective Practice.

We had ten participants on the call today. There were ACCESS members from a variety of states including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois (I’m sorry if I left any state out!).

Debra put together a Reflective Practice handout –

Feb2012CallHandoutonReflectivePractice 02-09-12

This handout sent via the listserv as an attachment to the invitation. Eventually, we will have a SKiP area in the “Members Only” section of the ACCESS website. For now, feel free to download documents that are highlighted throughout this post.

Several people shared ideas about how they involve their students in reflective practice and agreed to send along their resources. See the Reflective Practice handout above for details about the theories of John Dewey and Donald Schön that underlie reflective practice in education.

  • Laurie discussed a reflection template they use for many different assignments throughout the program. She said that faculty are now using the same reflection questions in their own practice, and that this has been very helpful. She agreed to share it, so here it is! reflection template
  • Kathy suggested that this template could also be used by faculty to reflect on key assessments.
  • Debra interjected that a question she has been thinking about is to make these more than just an assignment, filling in the blanks or answering the questions without internalizing the practice. How does it become “what we do?” All agreed that we need to model reflective practice ourselves so students come to see it as valuable.
  • Lisa described how she uses a variety of reflection questions starting in a curriculum course and how she tries to encourage her students to understand childrens’ experiences through their own experience, for example, how they feel when they feel competent and relating it to how children feel when they feel competent.
  • Nancy mentioned the idea of using a mind map to represent ideas that come up in reflection and then having students use the mind maps to later write about the process. Debra mentioned that she uses with her students in the practicum course to create a visual about how they see themselves as teachers at the beginning and at the end of the practicum, then writing about the changes and why they think they occurred.
  • Carrie discussed a reflection activity that she uses in class to help students process their own learning as they describe how they could make an answer to a quiz question stronger. reflective quiz taking
  • Other questions and suggestions that came up: Asking students: “What did you learn from the children?” after implementing a lesson plan. How do students interpret reflection, what does it mean to them? How do we reflect it back to them?
This was such a fun conversation and incredibly informative. This is the level of professional development I personally crave.

For those on the call, is there anything you would like to add to what we have posted here? Please post a comment so we can continue the conversation. I will also add more notes after tomorrow’s SKiP call which is on the same subject.

I hope you can join us tomorrow:

Friday, 2/10/12

2:00-3:00pm EST, 1:00-2:00pm CST, 12:00-1:00 Mountain, 11:00am -12:00pm PST

Please check your e-mail for call-in information.

Orlando: The Art of Nature Science

Continuing with the description of the activities in Orlando….

Debra Murphy, ACCESS VP of Professional Development, gave a wonderful presentation titled,

The Art of Nature Science – Inspirations: colors, forms, materials, color theory, and the art of Andy Goldsworthy

She started with a poem that may be familiar to many of us –  it really set the stage for what she was about to share:

It’s very difficult to put into words the power of Debra’s talk. I’ve seen her present on a number of subjects over the past few years, and every time I am amazed at the subtle beauty and power of her piece. I am particularly awed by her ability to quietly draw us all in to the world of her students and the journey they go through in her courses. Debra embodies the relationship of theory and practice. Everything she does is rooted in solid, evidence-based practice yet she doesn’t bore us with that side of things. She lets us discover it as we are drawn in to the compelling photographs that she so willingly shares with us.

In fact, she has offered to share her Flickr site with us which includes her photographs and much more. Take some time to explore it, and, next time you see Debra, please be sure to thank her for sharing such wonderful resources with us!

Debra’s Flickr site:

Student Engagement references handout

Please see this pdf document: BasnettNAEYC References offered to you by our morning presenter, Victoria La Placa Basnett, M.Ed.

Her talk was called, “Engaging Students through Cooperative Learning and Technology” and the handout includes all the references from her presentation including the wonderful and thought-provoking video clips, and the learning style survey among other things. I hope you will find this useful.

My favorite clip is “A Vision of Students Today”, check it out!

Orlando: Student Engagement & ACCESS updates

I really wanted to blog the entire time we were in Orlando, but unfortunately my little laptop completely stopped working on Wednesday. I was actually without technology, at least the access to tech that I’m used to, for several days. I felt alarmed at first, and then resigned to my fate, and finally kind of relieved! I did not answer e-mail, post on the blog, check my Facebook, or anything else for four solid days. It felt refreshing; like doing a cleanse!

But now, back to business:

The ACCESS day was full of many activities from morning til night. We began the day with a lovely breakfast sponsored by Cengage Learning. A big thank you goes out to Kara Kindstrom and all our friends at Cengage.

We started the morning sessions with a TeamUP presentation by presenter Victoria La Placa Basnett on active learning. I am happy to say that this was a very engaging presentation! I personally have been to many presentations on higher education that focused on “active learning” and “engagement” that did not employ the techniques the presenter was talking about. This was not the case with Ms. La Placa Basnett’s talk. She had us really thinking and participating. One of the points that I took away from the talk is to think about our era in terms of when we went to school and then think about today’s students and how different things are for them particularly in terms of the information they have access to through their laptops and phones. I also thought it was helpful to think about what motivated us to go to undergrad and what might be motivating our students to be in our classes – it may be very different!


I also appreciated that the presenter understood that we were an audience filled with faculty. She demonstrated how to prepare a presentation and then, based on the feedback from the participants, she was able to skillfully move through the presentation seamlessly. I think this was a wonderful example of active engagement. In order to engage learners, it is so important that we remain responsive to them throughout the session. It felt tailor-made to our learning needs – which is a real treat!

During the second part of the morning session, I talked for a bit about various ACCESS updates. For two different presentations, I tried something new which is called Prezi. I mentioned this in a previous post.

Well, I don’t think it was a complete failure…but I certainly need to practice my navigation skills! I think I figured out that if you minimize the wording on the presentation, the zoom effect is not as dramatic and hopefully will minimize that dizzying feeling caused by all the zooming in and zooming out.

Click here to view the ACCESS updates Prezi. Once you click the link, you can click the play button for each piece of the presentation. There is a plus and minus sign you can use to zoom in or out on each section. Try it out and see what you think!

Updates, in brief:

  1. ACCESS has launched the newly revised website, please save the following address in your favorites file as this is now the “go to” place for all things having to do with Associate Degree Early Childhood Teacher Education.
  2. The blog, has become a good source of ongoing information about ACCESS activities but also in terms of a place to share ideas. As of today’s date, this blog has 36 posts, and 45 followers (subscribers). Our biggest day was October 11, 2011 when we had 112 views. This is great! I was very pleased to hear from so many ACCESS members that they find the blog to be helpful. If you are interested in writing for the blog, please contact me directly at I would very much like to see more ACCESS members sharing things this way.
  3. Partnerships: ACCESS has partnerships with ECADA, NAECTE, CONNECT, and Voices of Practitioners. Please stay tuned for future blog posts about each partnership.
  4. ACCESS is in the process of developing a Handbook of Assessment in Associate Degree Early Childhood Teacher Education. I am spending my sabbatical working on this project! So far, I am in the process of finishing a literature review with annotated bibliography about “assessment of student learning in higher education” with an emphasis on “ECE teacher preparation in Associate Degree programs”, when available (not much assessment research out there focused on our specific field within the community college framework). The second half of the handbook will consist of practical applications including sample rubrics and assessment plans as well as a variety of stories about how various programs make use of assessment data.

This is where you come in! We need more samples. Please send your rubrics, key assessments, assessment plans or reports, to my e-mail

The goal is to make the Handbook an open educational resource, which means that we are freely sharing what is written and what is contributed. We are not working through a professional publisher or charging a fee, we are simply pooling our resources to develop our own handbook in an effort to provide the most current research and practices to fellow ACCESS members. By the way, one of the most brilliant examples of an open educational resource is one I use with my son and recommend to my students. It’s called Khan Academy and if you haven’t seen this before, I encourage you to check it out.  If you want a really good summary of what Khan Academy is and a striking example of the potential of open educational resources, please take a few minutes to check out this TED talk which explains it really well. Save it for later if you don’t have time now, but all of us should be aware of this powerful (and free) resource. Enjoy!

That describes the first half of the morning!

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