By Emile Creel
Ashley Brown landed in education from a love of reading and
learning. While teaching high school English, she enjoyed sharing literature
and breaking down problems to facilitate students understanding. That problem-solving
personality has gone with her as she’s changed roles from teaching students to
As a data coach at the RCU, Brown works with teachers in career
and technical education (CTE) pathways to build assessments that include showcasing
students’ skills and receiving reviews from industry professionals. This is a
position she couldn’t have imagined having when she graduated from Mississippi
State with a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in English, but it
has been a great fit for her investigative nature to dissect the best way to
modify performance-based assessments (PBAs) .
Testing can be stressful for students, said Brown. “PBA
helps grow students’ confidence in their abilities. They have the opportunity
to show off something they’ve made, and industry professionals look at what
Within PBA, she currently works with eight CTE pathways, and
the possibility of growing is always open. In addition to this work of revising
and supporting teachers, her position has also grown to include assisting CTE
teachers in the New Teacher Induction (NTI) program and providing support for
the RCU website.
At the RCU, Brown no longer deals directly with students as
she did in teaching, but she knows the impact that testing has on teachers,
whether in day-to-day instruction or lesson preparation. Through PBA and NTI,
she is influencing how teachers deliver materials, and thus how students perform.
“I hope we are using professional development to encourage
lifelong learning and that testing doesn’t have to dominate the classroom,”
Brown’s role allows her to continue learning as she
researches best practices and revisions for PBA and other projects. Outside of
the RCU, Brown continues learning new skills, including web development. She’s
completely self-taught in the discipline, and she is still working to enhance
her skills with freelance projects.
“I like taking on different challenges and fixing the
I’m finishing up building a website for my husband’s woodworking business.”
Brown and her husband stay busy with projects like woodworking,
knitting, and web development. Each pastime brings new challenges, but Brown
continues to break each project down and enjoys the process of finding a
solution, whether in education or a hobby.