Educators are the foundation of our educational system, and it’s vital that assessment developers connect with them to ensure that the systems built hold the most value for them and their students. This year, New Meridian was proud to attend the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia to learn from educators and other science professionals, share innovations, and discuss strategies to inspire students in science and STEM. 

“It’s important to connect with classroom educators to understand the issues they face, especially regarding assessment, so we can know how to help,” said Velma Itamura, New Meridian’s science content manager who attended the conference. 

Itamura, alongside New Meridian staff Christopher Lazzaro and Amy Byron, led a session during the conference titled “Empowering Educators to Impact the Direction of State Assessment.” Too often, educators are left out of the process and see the assessment system as a “black box.” They find themselves wondering what goes into making a state-wide science assessment aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In this session, teachers left with a better understanding of the state-wide assessment creation process and the role they can play in influencing the direction of those assessments. 

The value of educators in assessment development and design is essential, and there’s a great need for teacher involvement early on in the process before an assessment ever crosses a student’s desk. New Meridian’s Science Educator Cadre does just that by hiring educators as freelance item writers and reviewers for assessment test questions aligned to the NGSS. 

“Participating in events like NSTA’s Annual Conference allows us to engage teachers in designing and reviewing our assessments, which is one of the most vital components of creating an assessment,” said Christopher Lazzaro, director of science programs at New Meridian. “They have a powerful voice when it comes to the process of assessment design and what is being assessed in their classrooms, and it’s important that we give them the space to be heard.” 

NSTA’s Annual Conference provides an opportunity for educators and science leaders to reaffirm their commitment to supporting science education and provide them with the tools and resources they need to help students thrive. “As a former classroom teacher, it’s reinvigorating to reconnect with educators from across the country,” said Amy Byron, New Meridian’s Science Exchange product manager.  

The annual event also sheds light on the needs for the future. “Based on conversations with many different educators about what state assessments lack and what teachers still need to receive from them, it’s clear we need to continue to move the needle on defining assessment and increasing their value in the classroom,” continued Byron. 

Now, it’s time to get to work.