Having attended the State Assessment Conference last week I wanted to share a short piece of what I walked away with. For the most part, the sessions were worthy of attending and packed full of information to share with principals and teachers.
There were lots of conversations within each of the core sessions that provided information from the previous spring, 2012 tests, and what to look for as we teach and prepare kids for the next series of 2013 tests. It was made very clear that the tests are rigorous and we must consistently look at context and cognition.
One of the sessions I attended was a presentation by Clear Creek ISD (they are one of the Texas High Performance Consortium Schools). I attended on purpose because it’s always a good idea to see what best practices others are using. They made it very clear that students ought to be tested in various forms that are best for them; that’s the philosophy of the THPSC, but as reality has it, we must continue to move forward with the state’s plan for testing.
With that said, here are a few of the tips shared throughout the conference, specifically targeting the creation of local assessments:
1. Keep the vocabulary consistent with the student level of understanding.
2. Make sure there is only one correct answer choice.
3. Word the stem positively and avoid negative phrasing.
4. Take note and read/compare the Bloom’s chart as we know it and the revised version. (I’ll have copies for you at our STAAR Core meetings in January, 2013)
5. When planning instruction remember that discussion and collaboration are at the top of the revised Bloom’s chart.
6. Assessment and instruction should mirror one another.
7. Good writing always starts with good thinking! WE SHOULD BE WRITING AT EVERY GRADE LEVEL REGARDLESS OF ASSESSMENTS.
Beginning in January, 2013, I will be meeting with teachers (core subjects 3-10) to review information that will be helpful as we move forward with planning instruction and engaging students. We have incredible teachers at every level and we will continue to do what is best for all students.