1. Economic High Anxiety: Concerns about the Roiling Waters of this Perfect Storm. While Pat Bassett did come onto stage amidst an gorgeous video display of a hurricane’s fury, he did show a clip of a Mel Brooks movie, and he did also speak two other times on financial stresses and potential reactions, I almost feel like the conference understated the depth of the problem here. Attendance seemed down, considerably to my eyes. Although the occasional survey of the audiences which I saw indicated that people were worried but not overwhelmed, we must not overlook the self-selection problem here: those of us in attendance are much more likely to represent the doing-relatively-better schools, and I am worried about our colleagues who are not in attendance. When I heard Pat Bassett go down the list of tactics, he emphasized cutting spending on so called non-defense categoris, and then asked the audience: what are areas where we can cut? The responses from the crowdabout what to cut?: paltrey, few, and weak. This is a scary moment for us, this huge economic downturn coming just after we have escalated our tuitions so greatly above inflation. As I flew out of Chicago Saturday I read the Times, (along with probably many of you), and saw a piece that both the newspaper and the magazine publishers are canceling their annual conventions this spring, and it made wonder how confident I can even be that there will be an NAIS Annual Confernce next year?
2. CWRA: Excellence in 21st c. Assessment. A big highlight for me was my having the opportunity to attend a non-official session, presented by the folks at College and Work Readiness Assessment. CWRA is, I think a really interesting and really important advance in giving us in secondary schooling a new measurement tool, for data-driven decisionmaking and evidence-based marketing, that measures in the right kind of way (value-add and open-ended constructed response) the right kind of learning (higher order thinking skills, problem-solving, written communication, critical thinking). It was nice to see a very small shout-out for CWRA from Pat Bassett; I want to continue to evangelize for CWRA in the years to come. (more…)