Your monthly update on all things MS-CPAS
December 2020 and January 2021
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

In Mississippi, the months of December and January do not necessarily provide us a clear view of the season of the year. The unpredictability of the weather can pressure us to adjust our outfits from fall, winter and spring on a daily basis. The daily forecast's randomness parallels my feelings and instructional practices as an educator living in 2020.

One thing that is certain, and that we can all agree on, is that the public education system is at an important crossroads. I think we are all familiar with the phrase "everything happens for a reason." We can trace this philosophy back to Aristotle, who believed that everything that happens to us has a purpose that causes you to transform into the person you are becoming.

In the classes that I teach at Mississippi State, the method of instruction has forced me to take a hard look at the design of my classes and the quality of my practices. In a November 2020 Brookings Institute report, the authors hoped that this pandemic disruption will serve as a catalyst to repurpose educational technology, improve the instructional core and build stronger relationships between parents and teachers. 

It is also my hope that some of the lasting effects of the COVID-19 disruption to our educational system have not only made us better educators, but also even better human beings.

Another thing that is evolving due to COVID-19 is the annual Spring Test Coordinator Training. We decided to change the professional development delivery of the Feb. Spring Test Coordinator Training from face-to-face to online. 

Districts will schedule individual appointment times with assessment staff members to learn more about assessment processes and prepare for spring training. We hope that this method of training will provide better quality to districts than a virtual conference. 

Please note that this training is optional. Districts will still get support using the RCU Help Desk procedures before, during and after spring testing. We will provide more information regarding sign-up for spring training appointments in the Feb. MS-CPAS Minute.

For our educational technology tip this month, I offer up two different online technology tools, Classroomscreen and DuckSoup. Classroomscreen seems to have the solution for educators trying to navigate multiple instructional tools in a remote or in-person classroom environment. This is a free tool that allows educators to add widgets to a screen. Some of these tools are a timer, QR generator, poll and media player, to name a few. 

DuckSoup is an eSheet creator that can help you create online gradable activities from your documents. It also integrates with Google Drive, so it is an instant fit for schools that use Google Classroom.

We look forward to seeing each of you online (and hopefully face-to-face) in the New Year. Make sure to bundle up for the cold and enjoy your winter break!

Sean Owen, PhD
Assessment Manager

Important Dates

Spring Verification Deadline
Feb. 19
Practice Testing
 Feb. 22 - March 24
Spring 2021 Testing

Note: It is not necessary to wait until the make-up day to test students who need to make up an assessment. 

National certification testing will occur anytime between April 1 - May 12. The RCU will publish MDE certification reports mid-summer, contingent on the release of results by certification companies.

April 8 - 19: Congressional Districts 1 & 3

April 20 - 29: Congressional Districts 2 & 4

April 30: Make-up Testing

May 14: Final Reports Available

For the full calendar, visit the MS-CPAS resources page. Please note that you must be logged into the RCU website to access the MS-CPAS resources. 
MS-CPAS Updates

In light of so many travel restrictions still being imposed by school districts throughout the state, Spring Test Coordinator Training will be conducted in a virtual format this year rather than in person. Although this format will be different than in years past, the assessment team plans to provide ongoing assistance to districts for uploading and verifying rosters. We will offer virtual meeting timeslots with assessment team staff members so districts will be able to sign up for personalized assistance if they require it. More details about how to sign up will be released in the Feb. issue of the MS-CPAS Minute. As always, if you have any questions regarding assessment issues, please contact us through the RCU Helpdesk.
National Certifications Updates
In an effort to ensure that our information is up-to-date and that national certification testing inventory is available for all that need it, please notify the RCU via the RCU Helpdesk if this year is the first time you are offering a course that has a national certification as its end-of-course assessment. 

Likewise, if you have, in previous years, offered a course that has a national certification as its end-of-course assessment, but no longer offer that course as of this year, please notify the RCU via the RCU HelpdeskA listing of all pathways, along with their required assessments, can be found on on the Curriculum Download page of the RCU website.

Be sure to look for the Feb. MS-CPAS Minute for more information on National Certification procedures for the spring.
Performance-Based Assessment
In a year that has created a long list of changes and adjustments, we must now add PBA to that list. Test security protocols prohibit PBA tasks from being completed virtually, and due to the number of virtual PBA students this school year, continued variation in school schedules, and the unpredictable nature of student and teacher quarantines, the RCU and the MDE have reached a joint decision that PBA will not take place during the 2020 - 2021 school year. The second-year courses that would participate in PBA - Architecture and Drafting, Digital Media Technology, and Simulation and Animation Design - will now take the MS-CPAS that corresponds to their current curriculum. These test codes may be found on the blueprint for each course located on the curriculum download page of the RCU Website.

If you have any questions, please contact Riesa Blackwell through the RCU Helpdesk.
Key Contacts
Assessment Manager .........................
IAD Meetings and Training Events.......
National Certifications .........................
Data and Research..............................
Performance-Based Assessment.........

Have assessment needs not addressed in this issue?
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