Founded in 2006 by Denis Jarvinen, Ph.D., Strategic Measurement and Evaluation, Inc.'s (SME) focus is on improving the quality of assessment material, advancing the reliability and validity of assessment scoring, and promoting the effective use of assessment data. To accomplish these goals, SME provides assessment design, development, scoring, and psychometric services to large school districts, state education agencies, and private corporations across the United States.
Since the company's founding, SME has recruited the content experts, project managers, graphic design specialists, and operations professionals essential to the successful completion of all assessment and evaluation project tasks. The senior management staff has over 50 years of combined experience in the assessment industry. This depth of background and knowledge allows the SME team to design and deliver customized assessment and scoring solutions that add value to the assessment process. For example, when the New York City Charter Schools Center sought a vendor to transition the scoring of the New York State ELA and Math tests from a paper-based approach to electronic scoring, they selected SME as their primary contractor to achieve the transition. SME designed and executed a scoring system that covered all aspects of the scoring process, from the collection and inventory of completed test materials to the delivery of a final data file containing scored student data. The final SME scoring solution not only met the needs of the client and the requirements of the New York State Education Department, but did so in a cost-effective manner. A critical element to the success of the project was the active inclusion of key stakeholders, including New York City Department of Education staff, in the design and implementation of the scoring solution. The identification of and communication with multiple stakeholders is a hallmark of SME project planning.
In addition to our core staff, SME contracts with content specialists based on the needs of individual projects. Over the series of development projects SME has completed, the organization has developed a pool of talented item writers, editors and content specialists who are accessed as needed. This approach provides project-to-project flexibility and allows the on-time delivery of high quality products to our clients at competitive prices. This also holds true for scoring projects. For the New York state assessment scoring project mentioned above, SME retained individuals with existing experience in managing the scoring of New York state assessments. Many of these individuals had been in-charge of the paper-based scoring of New York State assessments as either a district testing coordinator or an assistant superintendent. Their knowledge and understanding of the unique requirements of the New York state testing programs contributed greatly to the overall success of the project. SME's ability to identify and match the appropriate staff to the appropriate responsibility is a strength that provides better service to our clients.
SME maintains offices in Champaign, Illinois and Lafayette, Indiana, two university communities with a highly educated work force. These offices house SME's full-time staff and each site includes a performance assessment scoring center. Across the two facilities, the scoring centers have approximately 150 web-enabled scoring workstations. In the fall of 2009, SME added a mobile scoring center with over 300 laptops, transportable server stations, and related project equipment. SME is able to use this mobile scoring center to provide extra capacity for existing projects or as a stand-alone scoring center for specific projects. For example, for the past two years, SME has set-up the mobile scoring center in New York to provide scoring capacity for the New York City Charter Schools' scoring project. In 2013, SME's scoring centers trained thousands of scorers and scored close to 2.3 million constructed-response items. All projects were completed accurately and on schedule.
Of course, as a full-service assessment company SME is more than a scoring vendor. Depending on the project, SME is directly involved in the development, printing, distribution, analysis, and reporting of assessment material. For example, SME developed benchmark reading and mathematics assessments for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. These tests are administered a number of times throughout the school year to all students in grades three through eight. SME is responsible for the development and printing of the physical test booklets and answer documents, the distribution and retrieval of this material from Cleveland schools, the scoring of the multiple-choice and constructed response items, the analysis of item and test data, and the printing and delivery of school, student, and family reports back to the district.
What makes SME different from other assessment companies is that SME does not begin with a set of one-size-fits-all assessment products. Rather, SME works closely with its clients to develop customized assessment solutions that meet local needs. In doing this work, SME seeks to highlight the connections between assessment and instruction and the role assessment data can play in improving student achievement.
In working with urban districts like Cleveland, Baltimore, and the District of Columbia, SME's goal is to incorporate local educators into the assessment development process. It has been SME's experience that when teachers, principals, and administrators are trained to create their own high-quality assessment materials, these educators take meaningful control of local assessments and are better prepared to use the resulting data to effect positive changes in student learning. For districts working with off-the-shelf assessment material, SME provides additional guidance and item review training, enabling local teachers to refine these materials to more accurately meet local needs. SME can also facilitate and provide the technology for full-scale Norm Webb-based alignment studies that measure and evaluate the alignment between an assessment program and state standards.
Finally, SME provides a full range of sophisticated psychometric support services for both district and state clientele. Once associated with only large-scale state assessments or major commercial assessment products, these services allow SME's district-level clients to present evidence that locally developed assessments meet professional assessment standards for validity, reliability, and fairness. SME's ability to apply state-of-the-art equating and scaling solutions to local assessment data enhances the value of these assessments by increasing program flexibility and allowing districts to monitor student progress in new ways.