Meeting the Moment: A Novel Format for RILS to Address Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jul 30, 2020

The Reidy Interactive Lecture Series (RILS) is one of the highlights for Center associates and our colleagues each year. It’s always a treat to convene in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; a great setting to appreciate the beauty of autumn in New England. What has made RILS special each fall since 1999, however, is the opportunity for a diverse group of participants to discuss timely and important topics in assessment and accountability. While circumstances prevent us from gathering in-person, that won’t keep us from finding other ways to have great conversations about consequential ideas and issues. In fact, it’s never been more important.

RILS 2020: Online Offerings

We know RILS has to be different this year, and we are pleased to sponsor the first distributed RILS, starting on August 11th and continuing through September 16th. The conference experience will feature a wide range of online programming focused on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for assessment and accountability. We don’t approach this change lightly. RILS has always been known for a lively interaction among participants, a feature we are working hard to preserve.

The issues we plan to address at RILS are as urgent as they are complex. The online conference will feature three strands:

  • Leveraging Assessment to Support Teaching and Learning: This topic will focus on the near-term priorities for assessment when schools reopen, presumably in the fall of 2020, that can carry educators through the year. We will discuss assessment approaches designed to help educators and school leaders move learning forward in the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Implications for Summative Assessment: This topic will focus on implications for administering statewide summative assessments in spring 2021. We will discuss technical considerations related to test design, administration, scoring, field testing, scaling, equating, standard-setting, and reporting. The goal will be to provide states and their assessment providers with practical guidance to address a range of issues as they develop or refine their operational plans for summative assessments in 2021.
  • The Road Ahead for School Accountability: This topic will explore strategies to help states address the impact of disruptions in 2020 on school accountability systems in 2021 and beyond. For example, how should states deal with technical challenges, such as computing academic growth? What opportunities for innovation and improvement do current circumstances introduce?

Each strand will include practical resources available to all RILS participants as well as a series of webinars. Webinars will feature a variety of perspectives from experts and leaders in the field, as well as many carefully designed opportunities for participant interaction.

An Invitation to Join Us

We believe the issues addressed at RILS will apply to a broad and diverse audience of education and measurement professionals and practitioners, especially leaders from state education agencies, local education agencies, education policy leaders, assessment providers, and researchers. As with previous conferences, we encourage participation from graduate students as well.

We hope you will consider joining us for all or part of RILS 2020. Events will take place throughout August and September.

Looking Ahead

We look forward to resuming in-person meetings as soon as it is safe to do so. We hope to be able to gather with colleagues to enjoy the brilliant colors of a New England fall in 2021. Until then, we hope participants find the content and novel format of RILS 2020 to be a source of support to help meet the moment. Let’s work together to address the pressing challenges ahead.