Sunday, November 3, 2013

REACHin' For Excellence

In Sunday's CPS issued Teacher Newsletter, we're treated to this sage advice about teaching:
Having spent the last few columns talking about setting high expectations and communicating them to students, scaffolding students to share their thinking, and engaging students in rigorous texts and tasks, it follows naturally that we should next spend time examining just what students actually learned! Component 3d [in REACH] gets at just that: where are students on their path to learning?
Ah yes, our old friends high expectations and rigor. It seems we can't go a day without hearing about high expectations and rigor! We are unsure about how scaffolding students to share thinking is done. But no matter, this is all tied to the new amped-up, excellence-inducing REACH Performance evaluation, of which one goal is to:
  • Establish a common definition and standards for teaching excellence. Yes, because all you need is excellence.
How is this done?
  • Standardized tests! Here, this means "customized performance tasks...which assess student mastery of standards."
If only this applied to the test developers. A reader email tipped us off to what some schools' faculties received via email today:

"...some departments had issues with test fairness and accuracy of the task. A passage may have had inaccurate information in it, the answer key may have been inaccurate and/or incomplete, or the student document never specified how many examples a student had to provide to receive credit."

Inaccurate information? Incomplete answer keys? Unspecified requirements? Teachers' job security is based on possibly inaccurate tests that will measure (or not) what a student learns during the year? Sounds like excellence to us!

Teachers, have you noticed inaccurate REACH exams? 

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