10 Training and Professional Development

Chapter 10 of the Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) Alternate Assessment System 2015–2016 Technical Manual—Science (Dynamic Learning Maps Consortium, 2017) describes the training that was offered in 2015–2016 for state and local education agency staff, the required test administrator training, and the optional professional development provided. This chapter presents the participation rates and evaluation results from the 2020–2021 use of the optional instructional professional development. This chapter also describes the updates made to the professional development system during 2020–2021.

For a complete description of training and professional development for DLM assessments, including a description of training for state and local education agency staff, along with descriptions of facilitated and self-directed training, see Chapter 10 of the 2015–2016 Technical Manual—Science (Dynamic Learning Maps Consortium, 2017).

10.1 Instructional Professional Development

The DLM professional development system includes seven modules that address instruction in science and support educators in creating Individual Education Programs that are aligned with the DLM Essential Elements. The modules are available in two formats, self-directed and facilitated, which are accessed at the DLM professional development website.

The self-directed modules were designed to meet the needs of all educators, especially those in rural and remote areas, offering educators just-in-time, on-demand training. The self-directed modules are available online via an open-access, interactive portal that combines videos, text, student work samples, and online learning activities to engage educators with a range of content, strategies, and supports. It also gives educators the opportunity to reflect on and apply what they are learning. Each module ends with a post-test, and educators who achieve a score of 80% or higher on the posttest receive a certificate via email.

The facilitated modules are intended to be used with groups. This version of the modules was designed to meet the need for face-to-face training without requiring a train-the-trainers approach. Instead of requiring trainers to be subject-matter experts in content related to academic instruction and about the population of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, the facilitated training is delivered via video recorded by subject-matter experts. Facilitators are provided with an agenda, a detailed guide, handouts, and other supports required to enable a meaningful, face-to-face training. By definition, they are facilitating training developed and provided by members of the DLM professional development team.

To support state and local education agencies in providing continuing education credits to educators who complete the modules, each module also includes a time-ordered agenda, learning objectives, and biographical information about the faculty who developed and delivered the training.

During the 2020–2021 school year, teams at ATLAS worked in cooperation with the professional development team at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill to develop a new science professional development module titled “Science and Engineering Practices #6: Constructing Explanations.” This module focuses on teaching the “constructing explanations” component of one science and engineering practice through the use of a writing framework. The module also includes guidance for teaching the science and engineering and framework through differing levels of complexity using DLM Science Essential Elements and linkage levels. The writing and production process of the module included collaboration between teams to ensure alignment with existing ELA and mathematics learning modules for a more streamlined DLM learner experience.

10.1.1 Professional Development Participation and Evaluation

As reported in Table 10.1, a total of 864 modules were completed in the self-directed format from September 1, 2020, to August 31, 2021. Since the first module was launched in the fall of 2012, a total of 122,224 modules have been completed.

Table 10.1: Number of Self-Directed Modules Completed in 2020–2021 by Educators in DLM States and Other Localities (N = 864)
State Self-directed modules completed
Utah 176
Wisconsin 150
Delaware   31
New York   29
North Dakota   26
New Jersey   17
Missouri   12
Iowa   11
Kansas     4
Pennsylvania     3
Illinois     2
Oklahoma     2
Rhode Island     1
Non-DLM states and other locations 400

To evaluate educator perceptions of the utility and applicability of the modules, DLM staff asked educators to respond to a series of evaluation questions on completion of each self-directed module. Three questions asked about importance of content, whether new concepts were presented, and the utility of the module. Educators responded using a 4-point scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. A fourth question asked whether educators planned to use what they learned, with the same response options. During the 2020–2021 year, educators completed the evaluation questions 76% of the time. The responses were consistently positive, as illustrated in Table 10.2. Across all modules, approximately 67% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with each statement.

Table 10.2: Response Rates and Rate of Agree or Strongly Agree on 2020–2021 Self-Directed Module Evaluation Questions

10.2 Conclusion

During 2020–2021, the professional development team at UNC Chapel Hill and the professional learning team at ATLAS developed a new science professional development module titled “Science and Engineering Practices #6: Constructing Explanations.” Educators provided consistently positive feedback regarding the importance and relevance of the professional development modules.