Monday, October 8, 2012


Every year our school system has a new focus, or directive, or panacea to save education, or whatever.  If I sound a little skeptical, it's because it usually involves more time and not very useful information.  All of this in the long run means less time assist my students and less time to develop and modify my classes.  Also, they usually end up scrapped a few years later.  However, this year I am more positive and actually think it might be useful.

Let me explain:
1) Each teacher(s) will develop a Benchmark Assessment (BA) for their subject.  The BA will be connected to appropriate Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and/or mimic some type of rigorous standardized test.

  • Since chemistry as well as some other subjects are not part of the the CAPT Exam, the exam taken in 10th grade that Connecticut students are required to pass before they graduate, we (myself and Tony Ciccone) used the SAT II in Chemistry and the NY State Chemistry Regents to create our BA.  Also, we used the new (2014) AP Chemistry Big Ideas for our Standards.  Lastly, our assessment is designed to be 45 minutes in length.
  • Four BA will be given beginning in October then in December followed by two more in the second semester.
  • Since the assessment is comprehensive, the students are not expected to score will on the first BA but improve throughout the year.
  • The expectation is that we will evaluate and analyze the results make changes to our instruction as necessary. 

2) Each teacher will use the school-wide learning expectation rubrics and develop authentic learning projects and consistent applications of grading rubrics.  

  • We will evaluate and provide evidence of how we are using the data from our assessments to inform instruction for classes as well as individual students.
The analysis is the critical piece of this pie.  The hard part will be for the students to take them seriously, thus acquiring meaningful data.  I am hopeful that we will be able to modify and align our curriculum to the Standards as well which is why I think this years' focus is useful, although I think this is going to take more time than the powers at be think.

As a side note: 
The following year, teacher evaluations in Connecticut are supposed to be based 40% on standardized test scores.  YIPPEE!  ITS HERE - TEACH TO THE TEST!!!  These BA will most likely serve as a basis for upper division subjects such as chemistry which there is no one standardized test that everyone in the state takes.  

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