“I don’t know what idiot wrote this item, but…” began the panelist.

Quickly raising my hand, I confessed, “That would be me.”

With face flushing, he softened his tone and began to describe what he thought was wrong with one of the newly written science items. He made some good points and I learned from him. We all strive for excellence, but even major league allstars strike out some times.

Assessment professionals care deeply about what we do and we want to foster relationships with clients that allow us to look back and have a good laugh when things like this occur.

In Part 1 of this series, I described a content review meeting in terms of format, purpose, and focus. Included was a list of 4 things that we accomplish at item review meetings:

  1. Building stronger client-vendor relationships
  2. Gaining insight regarding the culture of the state
  3. Acquiring knowledge concerning classroom instruction
  4. Meeting colleagues – and making new friends

Let’s look at this list in more detail.

A lot can be accomplished over the phone, but nothing is better for building relationships than time spent together in a face-to-face setting. As we create an excellent assessment and work through problems and issues together, a spirit of cooperation and collegiality grows, building a foundation for a solid professional relationship. During breaks when conversation becomes more casual we learn about mutual friends and common associates over the years.

Whenever we initiate a new project, considerable time is spent learning the program: where it has been, where it is now, and where it is going. As we meet practitioners from around the state, we inquire about your communities and schools, learning about your challenges and values. What issues are most relevant to your community? What topics are touchy or controversial? What do your teachers care deeply about? What unique challenges do your students face?

During meetings, we frequently solicit information regarding classroom instruction and assessment. What activities do you use for this topic? What are some demonstrations or labs that help students understand? How in depth do you go into this topic? What questions do you ask when assessing this unit? This information is used to help us build an assessment that aligns well to your standards and is relevant to your students.

Last but not least, we meet colleagues and make new friends. I still communicate with people from states that we worked with years ago. Although we no longer have the vendor-client relationship, we are coworkers in the same field, and beyond that, good friends.

Are there other goals that you have for item content review meetings? Have a story to share about friendships like this? Have any funny or embarrassing moments from one of these meetings? Click on the title of this post to leave a comment.