Wednesday, March 03, 2010

An ATP Newbie Reflects…

I walked into the annual meeting of the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) opening shindig (appropriately Superbowl-themed on 2/7/10 – congrats Saints!) and was struck by déjà vu. I eerily felt the same trepidation and bemusement as at my first educational conference back in 2000. Despite many years in assessment, I knew very few people. It was only later that I realized who the players were and that these were influential industry leaders—professors I had studied in college, text book authors I was required to read, people I had observed giving presentations across the country—competitors and colleagues. It occurred to me that they had much in common with me and I began to relax.

The opening session The Opening Session introduced Scott Berkun, author of “The Myths of Innovation”, who challenged attendees -- What is innovation and how does it REALLY happen? I thought of Edison’s “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. Berkun’s message (chapter 7 of his book) was: throughout history there were few “epiphany” (“ah ha”) moments -- more trying ideas and doggedly pursuing them until success was achieved. Failures are buried in the annals of time like Roman architecture other than the Coliseum...Keep asking -- What is innovation and is this it?

I enjoyed sessions on innovative items in assessment. “Assessing the Hard Stuff with Innovative Items” Assessing the Hard Stuff with Innovative Items which covered approaches from Medical Examiners, Certified Public Accountants, Medical Sonographers and Architects. The simulation rich examples and expanded item types (e.g., interactive tasks; expanded response options like drop down lists, forms/notes/orders, drawing/annotation tools; and interactive response options like hotspots and drag-and-drops) were interesting to consider. “Are You Ready for Innovative Items” Are You Ready for Innovative Items was a how-to on considerations for implementing innovative items and really outlined the potential pitfalls in innovation. The first was more intellectually interesting but the second was a good overview for those of you new to innovative item formats.

The Education division meeting was another interesting event. As newly appointed Secretary, I was surprisingly asked to step into the Vice Chair role. WOW, nothing like a promotion when you attend your first conference --or a foreshadowing of how much work we need to do as a group. Steve Lazer from ETS accepted the Chair role and Jim Brinton of Certification Management Services for volunteered for Secretary. Now we have a full slate of officers ready to serve!

Despite our commitment to service, the Education division appears to suffer from an identity crisis. We discussed how to increase ATP membership and conference attendance but I failed to see the value proposition of membership for all groups. This is a trade association that should be working for us -- its members. I am puzzled and concerned by the discussion about the inability for state government entities (acting as publishers) to join -- since this is a trade organization. However, moving forward I hope to better understand the mission and goals of the Education division so I can help resolve this identity crisis!

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Squires Foelsch
VP, Content Support Services
(ATP neophyte and new TrueScores blogger)

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