I have decided, rather reluctantly, to temporarily suspend my blog post writing. A couple of weeks ago I took a new position within my company. The new position has me doing a considerable amount of writing on behalf of the company. I fear that if I continue to write about assessment-related topics I would confuse my writing with what I am doing on behalf of the company.

So, I am putting this blog on hiatus until I decide where I want to go from here. I plan to take some time and make a reasoned decision about what's next.

I intend to have a new direction laid out sometime in January 2015. Until then, I encourage you to read some of my past blog posts.

Thanks for your patience.

Chad M. Barrett

Posted in Other Topics

Entering the Fray: Reading On Screen or on Paper


My profession requires that I read - a lot. Recently I became obsessed over whether or not I should be doing my professional reading on screen or on paper. So, I did a little research and found several articles on the subject; and no help making a decision about which approach would be more appropriate for me.

What I found is that articles on this topic have a similar narrative, which looks like this.

  • State a conclusion: Authors start by saying that when you read on paper, you are a more effective reader.
  • Cite the research: Then they use the research results and interviews to reinforce the point that reading on paper is more effective.
  • Muddy the research: Authors then go on to cite other research that contradicts the original conclusion.
  • State that more research is needed: They eventually get around to saying that more research, in particular longitudinal research, is needed before making a conclusion regarding what method of reading is better.
  • Recommendations: Since readers are moving toward on screen reading anyway, authors finish by making suggestions to help on screen readers. Not all authors make recommendations, but most do.

I found these articles to be very frustrating. I was looking for guidance on an important area of my work and found no good advice. So, I decided to develop an "ecosystem" that I feel will help me to be a more effective reader.

My Reading Ecosystem

First, I decided to read on screen. I have to read a number of journals, reports, and proposals as well as books. My laptop is lighter than the four books, two proposals, and the three articles I am reading right now.

Second, I decided to read on my laptop rather than using a tablet or smartphone. I rely on my laptop's features to take notes and interact with the text.

Now that I've made those decisions, my goal is to become an effective reader. I learned from my research that I need to integrate the following habits.

  • Focus: I turned off every reminder notice, bell, and whistle on my laptop. I also close down my email client and browser. I do this so that I can focus on what I'm reading.
  • Interact with Text: I read using programs that allow me to highlight text. I also interact with the text by taking notes in another program (Evernote). I copy key phrases and sentences into my notes and write my thoughts there as well. This helps me get the most out of the text.

I am becoming an effective reader using these ideas. I'm finding this to be effective, until I decide to change...

How do you keep up with your professional reading? Leave a comment below and let us know.


Jabr, F. (2013, April 12). The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

Konnikova, M. (2014, July 16). Being a Better Online Reader. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/being-a-better-online-reader

Korbey, H. (2014, September 9). Can Students ‘Go Deep’ With Digital Reading? Retrieved September 26, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/09/can-students-go-deep-with-digital-reading/

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Posted in Education

What's the Mechanism?


Sunday morning I continued my reading of Principles to Actions. This book, released by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, describes what a high-quality mathematics program is supposed to look like. The illustration in the chapter about curriculum (page 76) is an excellent example of how a small group of teachers improved the organization and instruction of one topic within their curriculum.

If I were in that group of teachers, I would want to figure out a way to get our ideas in front of textbook writers and curriculum designers. The teachers' work improves upon the sequencing of instruction presented in the textbook so that it is in better alignment with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and in better alignment with effective methods for teaching the concepts. These improvements could help the textbook publisher when they go to write the next edition. This leads me to the title question of this post, "What's the mechanism for getting the word back to publishers?"

I work in assessment development rather than textbook development. However, I have the same question because, in my experience, I rarely get feedback from the marketplace about our work. For custom-developed assessments, our client provides ongoing feedback that we incorporate before releasing a test or an item bank to the field. However, for product development, there is little client feedback until after a product launch.

Have you tried to report something back to either a textbook publisher or an assessment publisher? What was your experience? What was the result? I'm curious to learn whether or not publishers are responsive to good ideas presented to them from educators.



National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2014). Principles to action: ensuring mathematical success for all. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Posted in Mathematics

About Me

chad_3I write about education, assessment, mathematics, and other topics. I manage math content design and development for an educational assessment publisher.

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