Dear School Committee Members, Mr Webster, and Ms Martin,I am not sure how many of you have taken a Smarter Balanced practice exam. I decided to take one. I chose 3rd grade because that is closest to my daughter's age and I am most concerned with young learners because the standards were backwards mapped. I chose an ELA exam because of my history of teaching high school ELA and my Master's in Literacy Education.
First students read this. The last line is missing because I couldn't fit it on the screen all at once, but it does not change the meaning of the piece. (Please excuse my wobbly handwriting from writing with the mouse).
The question concerning this text that concerned me was this:
Here's the second half because you can't even see them all on one screen.
Some might think, well, its supposed to be hard and rigorous. This is not what higher academic standards look like. Good assessments do not pressure students to preform in this manner. We make an assessment more rigorous by increasing the level of complexity for the thinking a child must do to show mastery. We do not increase the hoops a child needs to jump through to demonstrate mastery. The task is not my complainant, but rather how the test design prevents a student from demonstrating mastery by being overly complex. Consider, if you just sat with a student with the two texts on paper and then asked the student to talk you through the answer, does the child stand a better change of demonstrating mastery? Do those changes to the assessment change what a child knows or can do? For more on this topic, I highly recommend Rick Wormeli's Fair Isn't Always Equal or his videos on YouTube.