Smarter Balanced Announces New Staff

Director of mathematics and director of support for under-represented students will add subject expertise and boost engagement with education field


OLYMPIA, Wash. – May 21, 2012 – The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) today announced the appointment of Shelbi Cole, Ph.D., as the Director of Mathematics and Magda Chia as the Director of Support for Under-Represented Students. The positions will support the development of a balanced assessment system that accurately measures achievement and growth toward college and career readiness for all students.


“We are pleased to have Shelbi and Magda join our team of teaching and learning experts,” said Joe Willhoft, Ph.D., executive director of Smarter Balanced. “They will strengthen our outreach and engagement with teachers, professional organizations, and nonprofits as we work to create and pilot the assessments.”


As the mathematics director for Smarter Balanced, Cole will ensure that the assessments measure the depth and breadth of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. She will oversee item writing, item quality, item alignment, item sensitivity, and bias and data reviews, as well as the production of formative assessment and professional development materials in mathematics.


“I look forward to bringing my experience in developing mathematics curricula and assessments that promote differentiated instruction to the work of Smarter Balanced,” said Cole. “The Consortium’s computer adaptive assessments and formative resources will give teachers the information and tools to support achievement for all students.”


Cole previously served as co-chair of the Smarter Balanced Performance Task Work Group and was closely involved in the development of the Consortium’s Mathematics Content Specifications released last year. As mathematics education consultant for the Connecticut State Department of Education, Cole oversaw the development of the state’s high school mathematics assessment and contributed to the state’s transition plan for the Common Core State Standards. She has spoken widely on the Common Core State Standards and has been recognized by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) for her research. Cole received her master’s of secondary education and Ph.D. in gifted education from the University of Connecticut, Storrs.


As director of support for under-represented students, Chia will lead the Consortium’s efforts to ensure the assessment system is designed to effectively serve the needs of all students, including students with disabilities and English language learners. She will provide support to Smarter Balanced work groups and advisory committees, as well as facilitate input from outside experts and stakeholders on the development of the assessments and supports for teachers.


“I am thrilled to be a part of this important effort to develop assessments that provide reliable, valid, and fair measures of achievement and growth for all students,” said Chia. “Diverse student populations must have the same opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills so that educators have feedback to adapt instruction to individual student needs.”


Chia is a doctoral candidate in education, equity, and cultural diversity at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research addresses validity and fairness in assessments across diverse student populations. She specializes in the relationship between cultural and linguistic diversity and assessment development, implementation, data use, and classroom instruction. Her work has been funded by numerous organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. Chia received her master’s of social studies education at New York University.




About Smarter Balanced
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium brings together states to create a common, innovative assessment system for mathematics and English language arts that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and helps prepare students for college and careers. The Consortium involves educators, researchers, policymakers, and community groups in a transparent and consensus-driven process to help all students thrive in a knowledge-driven global economy. The Consortium’s projects are funded through a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, comprising 99 percent of activity resources, with the remaining support provided through generous contributions of charitable foundations. Membership is open to any interested U.S. state. For more information, please visit


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