9 Training and Professional Development

Chapter 9 of the Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) Alternate Assessment System 2021–2022 Technical Manual—Instructionally Embedded Model (Dynamic Learning Maps Consortium, 2022) provides a complete description of training and professional development for DLM assessments, including the required test administrator training and the optional instructional professional development made available.

This chapter presents updates to the required test administrator training content as well as participation rates and evaluation results from the 2022–2023 optional instructional professional development modules.

9.1 Updates to Required Test Administrator Training

Training is required annually for all educators who administer the DLM alternate assessment. In 2022–2023, the training was updated with additional features to support educator learning.

Each training module for new test administrators now includes an optional note-taking guide that trainees can use to stay engaged and focus attention on the training topics. Following the presentation, trainees can check their answers in their notes using an answer key. Additionally, an optional interactive activity is provided at the end of each module to help trainees further confirm their understanding of the module content. Trainees can also download each module’s slides and transcripts for reference. These optional components of the training are included with the facilitator resources for facilitators to use at their discretion.

The training for returning test administrators consists of a single module and does not include a note-taking guide or an interactive activity, but returning trainees are given the option of downloading the module’s slides and transcript for reference.

The training for both new and returning test administrators concludes with a “Helpful Reminders” document that trainees can download and keep for reference if desired. The purpose of this document is to focus trainees on salient highlights of the information addressed throughout the training.

9.2 Instructional Professional Development

The DLM professional development system is built to support educators in their efforts to teach English language arts (ELA) and mathematics to their students who participate in the DLM system. In addition to providing instructional support, the instructional professional development modules also teach educators about the DLM system. While the modules were originally intended for educators who administer DLM assessments, system data suggest that preservice educators, related service providers, parents, and others also access and complete the modules.

To support state and local education agencies in providing continuing education credits to educators who complete the modules, each module also includes a time-ordered agenda, learning objectives, and biographical information on the faculty who developed the training modules. There are a total of 51 ELA and mathematics modules, which are described in section of this chapter.

The 51 modules are available in both self-directed and facilitated formats. The self-directed modules are available online, on-demand. The interactive modules include a combination of video-based content, embedded activities, and, for participants who would like to receive a certificate documenting their successful completion of the module, a pre- and post-test. These certificates are sent directly to each participant’s email when they achieve a passing score on the post-test.

9.2.1 Professional Development Participation and Evaluation

There are two ways in which test administrators and educators may complete professional development modules: required test administrator training and optional professional development. Some states require one or more of the optional professional development modules to be completed as part of the required test administrator training. States can require that certain modules be completed by new test administrators, returning test administrators, or both. Test administrators completing professional development modules as part of the required test administrator training access the modules through the Moodle training site where the rest of the required test administration training is located. The second way in which professional development modules are completed is through the DLM professional development website. The modules on the professional development website can be accessed by anyone and completed at any time. Participants completing modules on the website are administered a short evaluation survey following each module. The evaluation survey is not included in the required test administrator training. With the exception of the evaluation survey, the content of the modules is identical in the required test administrator training and the professional development website. Required Professional Development Participation

A total of eight states required at least one professional development module as part of their required test administrator training. The modules included in the required test administrator training are required of all relevant test administrators (i.e., new or returning, as specified by the state). For example, a test administrator who only administers mathematics assessments may still be required to complete a module on instruction for ELA. Table 9.1 shows the number of modules required, by state, for new and returning test administrators, as well as the total number of modules completed in 2022–2023. In total, 9,122 professional development modules were completed by 2,572 new and 2,409 returning test administrators as part of the required training.

Table 9.1: Number of Professional Development Modules Completed as Part of the Required Test Administrator Training
New test administrators
Returning test administrators
State Required modules Test administrators Required modules Test administrators Total modules completed
Delaware 2 115    230
Maryland 4 512 2,048
New Hampshire 1 143    143
New Mexico 2 339    678
Oklahoma 5 510 1 1,222 3,772
Rhode Island 2 111 1    166    388
West Virginia 1 194    194
Wisconsin 1 648 1 1,021 1,669

Table 9.2 shows which modules were required for new and returning test administrators across all states choosing to include professional development modules in the required training. For example, the Principles of Instruction in ELA module was required for new test administrators in three states and was required for returning test administrators in one state.

Table 9.2: Professional Development Modules Selected for Inclusion in Required Test Administrator Training in 2022–2023
Module States requiring for new test administrators States requiring for returning test administrators Total modules completed
DLM Claims and Conceptual Areas 2    624
DLM Essential Elements Overview 5 1,585
Effective Instruction in Mathematics 2 1,014
Individual Education Programs Linked to the DLM Essential Elements 2 1    783
Principles of Instruction in ELA 3 1 2,685
Who are Students With the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities? 4 1 2,402 Optional Professional Development Participation

Table 9.3 shows the number of individuals who completed optional professional development modules through the DLM professional development website, as well as the total number of test administrators from each state who had a student assigned to them for the DLM assessment. In total, 6,056 modules were completed in the self-directed format from August 1, 2022, to July 31, 2023. Since the first module was launched in the fall of 2012, a total of 83,117 modules have been completed on the professional development website.

Table 9.3: Number of Self-Directed Modules Completed in 2022–2023 (N = 6,056) by Educators in DLM States and Other Locations
State Participants DLM test administrators Total modules completed
Alaska     4    179        5
Arkansas   15    778      58
Colorado 161 1,148    811
Delaware 129    225    391
Illinois   98 3,275    421
Iowa   87    939    273
Kansas   83    851    520
Maryland 111 1,370    300
Missouri   49 1,554    125
New Hampshire     7    316      33
New Jersey   82 2,916    481
New Mexico     4    638        6
New York   94 5,547    295
North Dakota     1    263        1
Oklahoma   15 1,438      52
Pennsylvania 194 4,482 1,143
Rhode Island   33    254      68
Utah   66    812    250
West Virginia     3    477      11
Wisconsin 152 1,522    809
Non-DLM state and other locations     1        3
Note. Participant counts may include individuals who are not educators or test administrators (e.g., pre-service educators).

To evaluate educator perceptions of the utility and applicability of the modules, DLM staff ask educators to respond to a series of evaluation questions on completion of each self-directed module. Educators responded to questions about the importance of content, whether new concepts were presented, the utility of the module, and whether educators planned to use what they learned. Educators respond using a 4-point scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. During the 2022–2023 year, across all modules, educators completed the evaluation questions 85% of the time, with response rates ranging from 66% to 97% per module. The responses were consistently positive, as illustrated in Table 9.4. Across all modules, 81% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with each statement.

To evaluate the consistency in the ratings for each module, we calculated Cronbach’s (1951) alpha from the four items for each module using all ratings from fall 2012 through the 2022–2023 year. Across all modules, alpha ranged from .85 to .96, with an average value of .92, suggesting high internal consistency in responses.

Table 9.4: Response Rates and Rate of Agree or Strongly Agree on 2022–2023 Self-Directed Module Evaluation Questions

9.3 Conclusion

The DLM system makes training and instructional professional development modules available to test administrators and educators as well as state and local education agency staff. The required test administrator training is designed to ensure that test administrators understand the DLM system to administer the assessments with fidelity. Complementary to the required training are the professional development modules, which provide participants learning opportunities to support instructional practices aligned with content measured by DLM assessments. In 2022–2023, participants provided consistently positive feedback regarding the importance and relevance of the professional development modules, although participation was low relative to the educator population.