For those who are interested, I prepared a brief history of how ATI came into existence. Here’s our story. FYI, the picture of me and Nancy was taken in the empty room in our house the day ATI was created. The wording on the pat they are holding in the picture says, “An Idea is Born!”…
An Idea is Born
A Message from the ATI Founder
After months of telling ourselves “we can make this work”, my wife, Nancy, and I created the Assessment Training Institute in a spare bedroom of our home in 1992 and never looked back. We were off and running from the very start. I was on the road immediately doing presentations and then writing our first textbook (now in its sixth edition) on airplanes to and from. The problem was our location–west coast. So our phone started ringing at 5 AM!! Besides, Nancy protested, our first employee was coming to our house every morning and so the place had to remain spotlessly clean! Home office didn’t last long.
One of our first lessons was that the demand would be strong. Pre- and in-service training in assessment were nonexistent. So interest in our work spanned the country. There was no way for me to meet the travel demands. So we rushed to complete the text and, more importantly, created our initial interactive training videos. The second challenge was to expand interest in professional development in classroom assessment an even higher school improvement priority. Conference presentations would do that, along with publication in prominent journals. Our target audience in this endeavor was school leaders. Teachers were (and are) universally onboard–they remain desperate for training in the assessment process used to motivate and report on learners. We needed to help them get the opportunity to learn. That still remains our biggest challenge decades later!
One interesting phenomenon I experienced while still in our home office had to do with my writing. I have come to believe that my ideas have to “ripen” over time before I can write about them. Our basic text is case in point. I had received several invitations to write a textbook for four or five years but had declined as I didn’t feel ready. My ideas were still developing within me. With the launch of ATI, the time was at hand. I developed a prospectus for a text built on a totally new approach, distributed it and found my publisher–an earlier corporate version of Pearson. But it is what happened next that was startling. I began to write and, seriously, it was as if I was channeling for professors and the teachers who had been the focus of my decade of classroom assessment research. It was as if someone took over my hands and composed the text. That is how ready the ideas were to come out. I would look at the screen and marvel at the material appearing on the screen! I even called to Nancy, saying, “it’s happening again–come see this!” The presentation flowed forth as if by magic. It truly was a wonderful professional experience.
All these successful years later, I have retired now. Nancy needs my care and I give it with love. But ATI marches on. Most exciting for me is the reality that it has life and expands with new staff in a new much larger Pearson environment. The demand for a foundation of assessment literacy throughout American education continues to grow along with our capacity to respond. Now we offer print, video and online programs on general assessment FOR learning approaches and subject-specific applications. It is rewarding to be able to say, they realty don’t need me anymore.
Carry on, ATI.