October 12, 2020 | Blog

MZD Leadership Series: Daisy Vickers, Vice President – Performance Scoring and Research

Teachers today are facing challenges they barely could have conceived of prior to 2020 when it comes to assessing performance or even teaching. It’s been a year of disruptions, with both formative and summative examinations canceled throughout the country. There are fears that a few cancellations may only be the beginning of the problem for teachers.

This week we are talking with Daisy Vickers, our VP of Performance Scoring and Research. Daisy began her career in performance assessment after teaching both high school and college English and since then has remained an expert in the field. Daisy is certainly no stranger to what goes on inside the classroom. 

Let’s go ahead and find out what she makes of the situation we face today. 

What are the challenges that teachers face today?

With COVID-19 present today, teachers are facing challenges with which they have not had to deal with before. Schools were dismissed in many states in early spring and the last months of the school year were certainly not the norm. Standardized end-of-year tests, final exams, final projects, research papers, presentations, performances, and other pieces of evidence that are typically used by teachers for final evaluations of their students were in many cases canceled. These pieces of evidence are what are normally used by teachers when it comes to preparing their instruction for the students in the fall. They let the teachers know what level of achievement the incoming students have and make it possible for them to begin instruction at the appropriate levels. 

This fall as many schools open with part or all of their instruction online, many teachers are faced with incomplete pictures of the students they have been assigned. Without the full data from the former grade – teachers will have a more difficult time placing their students at an appropriate level of instruction and getting to know their strengths and weaknesses. It will also be difficult at the end of this year to see the growth that the students have made without the comparisons to knowing or seeing last year’s work.  

We know COVID-19 brings a certain pressure for teachers, especially when it comes to assessing and evaluating student performance and with little or no growth data for comparison, it can be a difficult task. How does the MZD Family help to solve the challenges you mentioned?

COVID-19 makes communication more important than ever before. For teachers to meet the needs of a classroom of students they must be able to evaluate the students’ work often and give feedback quickly to the students and parents. 

The MZD Family offers a solution for each step in the evaluations. In order to question each student frequently, ADAM is the solution. The teacher can author items, present them to the students, and see immediately if the material presented has been successfully understood.  To closely monitor and frequently communicate with the students – a teacher can make assignments online and give performance tasks to check the level of comprehension. Teachers are able to then score the tasks using OSCAR and immediately see how the class as a whole has performed while allowing the student to have feedback quickly, rather than waiting for a contractor to return scores.  If the teacher, school, or district would like to closely monitor the progress of the students and the equity of grading practices, they have the option of using OSCAR at a building or district level or using EMMA to immediately score and return scores for students. To be able to administer an assignment at the beginning of the year for benchmarking purposes and then another at the end of the year to see growth is valuable information for students, parents, and educators at all levels.

In an ideal world, what would the perfect school system look like?

Oh, my, a tough one!  First of all, the perfect school system would be one without COVID-19. There would be a smooth transition from class to class and from year to year.  Students would be challenged to do their very best and would be made to feel that the possibility of success is a reality for all.  In order to make this happen, teachers and administrators would have the tools and the time necessary to keep up with the progress of each student. Standards and expectations would be clearly defined and there would be equality in these expectations across the system. There would be pride in achievements from the highest achievers to the lower achievers. Not only would the students feel pride in their learning, but teachers and administrators would feel pride in the learning of students and the teaching of the teachers. They would be able to point to data that clearly demonstrates how perfect they are!

Next week, we’re catching up with Miles Loring, MZD’s Co-Founder and CTO.