Avant Newsletter - November 2017
Monday, December 11, 2017 by David Bong
Everything that we do at Avant is driven by the mantra that Proficiency is the Goal.When we started Avant in 2001 we saw the critical need to measure students' proficiency levels, and through that process to help schools learn what real world proficiency means, to set student proficiency goals, and to identify areas and ways to improve the outcomes their programs generate. We are continuing to expand the number of languages that we assess, and add improvements and features to our assessments so that we can provide more detailed information to students, teachers, administrators, and parents, and make the assessment experience more engaging for students.
Today we see a need to build a bridge from a one-time a year summative STAMP proficiency assessment into the every day classroom where what we learn from assessment can feed the learning and teaching process and improve student proficiency outcomes.
Avant is launching two new products at the ACTFL conference this year that draw from our assessment experience, and will have a significant impact on learning and teaching every day in every classroom.
Today we are happy to introduce Avant ADVANCE. ADVANCE is a better, faster way to train teachers in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. We have seen that teachers who develop a deep understanding of the proficiency standards use proficiency pedagogy effectively and generate positive learning outcomes. Until Avant ADVANCE, the only way to learn how to rate student responses using the proficiency standards has been to travel to a specific site to receive several days of face-to-face training. It has not been possible to learn how to rate student responses online, receive immediate feedback on rating accuracy, or to have continuous access to online refresher practice. With Avant ADVANCE, teachers can do all of these as well as learn how to rate student responses anytime/anywhere, for a fraction of the cost of face-to-face training programs.
In this issue we have included Carl Falsgraf's interviews with the creators of Avant ADVANCE, Maury and Kyle Ennis of Avant, and Dawn Samples, the World Language Supervisor in Lexington, South Carolina who was the first to pilot ADVANCE. We invite you to send us your thoughts and feedback on ADVANCE.
Stay tuned! The next newsletter will include details about the next new product that Avant will launch at the Presidents' Reception for NADSFL and NCSSFL members sponsored by Avant on November 15 at the ACTFL conference in Nashville.
Have a peaceful and relaxing Thanksgiving.
Art Fry was so frustrated, he almost said a bad word in church.
Every time he opened his hymnal, his bookmarks fluttered to the floor. Then he remembered that one of his colleagues at 3M had recently concocted a strange glue that wasn’t very sticky. He applied some of it to scraps of paper and, lo and behold, his bookmarks stayed in place. When 3M secretaries got ahold of the little papers, they started sticking them on memos, folders, and cubicle walls. Today, 3M sells about 50 billion Post-Its each year.
Avant VP for Education and Assessment Kyle Ennis wasn’t in church when his “Aha!” moment came. He was in New Jersey. “Supervisors there were telling me that teachers moonlighting as STAMP raters were doing amazing things in the classroom. They thought we must be giving them methodology workshops or something. In reality, they just went through RaterConnection, our online rater training and certification system and began scoring student responses with detailed criteria.”
He remembered how developing and implementing standards-based assessments as a Japanese teacher in the 1990s had transformed his classroom. He had heard others say that OPI Training had changed them as teachers. Perhaps, thought Ennis, the process that creates accurate raters can create great teachers.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
- Will Durant
Avant gets calls from schools around the country every day. But this one was different.
“What have you done to Marie-Pierre?” asked the principal. “She is a totally different teacher. Her classroom is so alive and her program is growing. Whatever you are doing is working.”
At first, the question baffled Maury Ennis, who manages Avant raters like Marie-Pierre. They hadn’t done anything special with Marie-Pierre, just run her through the Avant Rater Connection program so that she could accurately score STAMP 4S speaking and writing responses. And they certainly hadn’t told her how to teach French.
On the other hand, the essence of standards-based teaching is a set of commonly understood outcomes. Scoring thousands of student speaking and writing responses had given Marie-Pierre a deep and concrete understanding of what proficiency really looks like. For years she had read the words on paper — “familiar situations” “generally comprehensible” “connected discourse” — but it wasn’t until she sat down to rate all those French responses that the abstract concepts came to life. Rating these responses from diverse students forced her to align with others around the country.
If you will be attending the ACTFL 2017 Conference please stop by our booth, located not far from ACTFL Central, in Booth #539!
If you are not able to find us at our booth, please check out our two information sessions:
You can find Avant's full schedule of events for 2017 by visiting the Events tab on our website. Do you have an conference or workshop you would like Avant to attend? Send us a message with the details - firstname.lastname@example.org.