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Annual Assessment Literacy Conference draws hundreds of Maine teachers

Portland Museum of Art Director of Learning & Interpretation Phillippa Pitts presents on Visual Literacy, Visual Thinking, and Visual Questioning at the  fourth-annual Assessment Literacy Conference

More than 330 educators from across Maine convened at the Portland campus of the University of Southern Maine (USM) Monday and Tuesday, May 7-8, for the fourth annual Assessment Literacy Conference.

The event, hosted by USM’s Southern Maine Partnership (SMP) — a school-university collaboration that links schools and the University in support of student learners — brought educators together to rethink assessment and reshape the conversation around it, according to Anita Stewart McCafferty, USM assistant professor and co-director of SMP.

“It’s (about) high-impact strategies that are really designed to improve learning,”McCafferty said. “We’ve been flipping the notion of assessment to focus more on the process and the strategies rather than just the end tests and projects.”

McCafferty said the conference, stylized as #Assessment Literacy, featured more than 20 breakout sessions and several keynote talks focused on implementing successful classroom assessment strategies.

She said USM is a leader in driving the conversation around assessment as Maine shifts toward complete proficiency-based education.

“When educators are thinking about who’s leading the charge, who’s pushing the edge, who’s bringing minds together to push boundaries, we want them to think USM,” she said.

USM Professor Anita Stewart McCafferty holds her new book, co-authored by USM Professor Jeff BeaudryEven further, assessment is being reexamined at the university level, McCafferty explained. A group of USM faculty attended the conference — which concluded on National Teachers’ Day — to learn from their K-12 peers with the intent of developing K-16 assessment literacy strategies through college.

“That’s kind of our bridge where we’re trying to think about now … how do we also utilize the great skill sets these K-12 practitioners are, and then create this more collaborative approach where they’re sharing strategies and knowledge about pedagogy?” McCafferty said.

The conference also coincided with the release of “Teaching Strategies that Create Assessment-literate Learners,” co-written by McCafferty and Jeff Beaudry, USM associate professor and co-director of SMP, and published by Corwin Press.