Yesterday was my last day of my first semester teaching to the Common Core State Standards. I started off blogging often about my experience and then I had a tough time finding time to blog about my experiences because I always felt like I was behind. Now that I have some time, here are my experiences thus far:
1.) Very few people really know what they are doing.
We are all trying to learn as we go, sharing our successes and failures, but in the end, it feels like no one is an expert at teaching to CCSS. There are plenty of companies that are trying to tell us that they are experts, but I haven’t found anything or anyone who I feel has an overwhelming wealth of knowledge on the subject. If you are looking for assessments or lesson ideas, the best I have seen so far is EngageNY.
2.) There is still no assessment or credible source as to what the assessment is going to be.
Living in Illinois, I know that my students will be given the PARCC assessment at some time in the future. What is that? How many questions? How much time will students have to complete it? What types of questions will they have to answer? Illinois recently released a test map for the 2014 ISAT test. Although we are told a breakdown for each of the standards, we are still not told how many or what type of questions will be assessing each standard. In due time, I’m sure we will all get a better idea of what the test will look like which will help all of use write our current assessments.
3.) Teaching to the Common Core State Standards might actually be working.
In my district, we test all students using NWEA’s Common-Core-aligned assessment, call the MAP test each fall. After students take the test, we receive a progress report that determines a growth projection for each student. This is the median growth for an entire school year for students at that grade level receiving that score. At this point in the year, I only test my Enrichment class. These are the students who scored low at the beginning of the year who need extra help in math. For everyone in my Enrichment class, their growth projection is 4 points. That means that half of the students at that grade level receiving their scores should grow 4 points from August to May. Here are the scores for the students in my enrichment class that completed their test:
I currently have 5 students scoring beyond their growth target for May and 2 that look to be on pace to meet their growth target. I know this is a small sample size, so it will be interesting to see how all of my students perform at the end of the year. Although I know that only 50% of my students should score 4 or more points better than they did in August, I would be disappointed if less than 80% of my students met their growth target.
It may be the Common Core Standards or it could just be me rethinking my teaching and assessment, but I feel that what I am doing this year is more productive than what I have done in years past. I am rarely planning beyond a day or two because I never know how students are going to perform from day to day. I feel that this change alone has made a significant difference. Using formative assessment in order to direct my instruction is new for me and I have never looked at so much data and item analysis as I have this year. I think all of this together is creating a better product in terms of the results I am getting.