The Dynamic Learning Maps project has added a new associate director, Meagan Karvonen, Ph.D., a long-time researcher in the field of alternate assessments. Beginning this spring on a limited basis, she will join the project full-time in June.
Karvonen will lead the DLM project’s test development and measurement team during the next phase of development of the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment System, a computer-based assessment for the 1% of the K-12 public school student population with significant cognitive disabilities for whom, even with accommodations, general state assessments are not appropriate.
She will lead the effort to create assessment content in preparation for field testing and pilot testing before the DLM Assessment is implemented in 14 states during the 2014-2015 school year. She will also oversee the next phase of learning map development and research on the DLM assessment system.
Karvonen currently serves as associate professor of educational research at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Her primary research and work have focused on the inclusion of students with disabilities in large-scale assessments, with an emphasis on alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards.
“I’m excited to be joining the Dynamic Learning maps team,” Karvonen said. “By embedding assessment modeled on good instructional activities throughout the school year, we expect to improve the learning of students with the greatest educational needs.”
The DLM assessment system is being designed to support student learning by having assessment tasks model good instruction. Assessment is embedded in teachers’ instruction given throughout the school year in ways that allow the Dynamic Learning Map to help teachers teach better. It will be implemented in the DLM Consortium states during the 2014-2015 school year.
She has done much work on a national level on alternate assessments, including doing research for the National Alternate Assessment Center, assisting multiple state departments of education with improving their assessment systems, and serving as chairperson of the American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group on Inclusion and Accommodation in Educational Assessment.
“We are thrilled to have attracted Meagan,” said Neal Kingston, DLM project director. “Her experience with alternate assessment and working relationships with state departments of education will enhance the development and implementation of the Dynamic Learning Maps alternate assessment to the benefit of students in 14 states.”
Leila Williams, associate superintendent with the Arizona Department of Education, has worked closely with Karvonen, lead researcher on a longitudinal study of widely different alternate assessments in three states, including Arizona. Williams praised Karvonen’s ability to take complex data gathered across the states and create reports that provided states useful information and guidance on future development of test content.
“The data analysis and research Meagan performed showed our states where our strengths and weaknesses were in our test items that we currently have in place,” Williams said, adding that she was impressed at Meagan’s research expertise and skills at collaboration, organization, and data analysis. “It was such a positive experience working with Meagan and what we gained from working with her. She has a great understanding of test development and she really sees her work as helping us as states move forward with our alternate assessments.”
Karvonen’s recent publications include a chapter on alternate assessments in the book, “Assessing Students in the Margins: Challenges, Strategies, and Techniques.” She received a Ph.D. in educational psychology and research from the University of South Carolina, a master’s degree in clinical and community psychology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Alma College.