In the immortal words of Jimmy Fallon, aka “Joey Mack,” DJ extraordinaire on the fictional Z105 Morning Madhouse: “And, we’re back!” Call it a Jan-Term or what you will, it’s been a crazy month for these two Instructional Coaches planning an delivering PD around the Smarter Balanced Assessment. As we are in the first year of the SBA, it seems like a good time to explore some resources again:
In our district, we’re hearing the clamor for more student samples of ELA writing tasks to gauge success levels. As many are already aware, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium released Scoring Guides to the on-line practice tests at all grade levels, which include some exemplars (though seemingly written by adults) for the Constructed Response items included on both the Computer Adaptive Test as well as the Performance Task. In addition, in November 2014, SBAC released the first Baseline Anchor Responses from the Performance Task Full Writes, based on actual student work on the 2013 SBA Pilot Test. These are organized by grade level, writing purpose (mode) and score point : Purpose/Organization exemplars 4, 3, 2, 1; Evidence/Elaboration exemplars 4, 3, 2, 1 and Conventions exemplars 2, 1, 0, rather than as full essay exemplars. There are no full essays that have been scored across the board in all three traits.
Yet another resource to peruse comes from EngageNY. Although the work contained here is not from Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium itself, it does include pioneering, thoughtfully developed and vetted tasks from the New York State Tests, Grades 3-8 ELA & Mathematics 2013 and 2014. You’ll see many similarities between these and the SBA sample tests. Unfortunately, it’s a little cumbersome to navigate. Annotated State Test Questions include passages, questions, success criteria (Characteristics of Responses Receiving Full Credit), and student work. Sample Student Work from the 2013 NYS ELA Common Core Test provides a smaller sample of mini-performance tasks and student work (rather than wading through the pages of the full test the previous link takes you to).
Finally (at least as far as SBA talk is considered), if you scroll to the bottom of the Annotated State Test Questions page, you’ll find PDF documents of Sample Annotated Passages you can download by grade level. The benefit of this resource is that EngageNY has gone through the arduous task of analyzing Quantitative (including Word Count and Lexile Level) and Qualitative (Text Structure, Language Features, Knowledge Demands, etc.) measures for the passages included on their exams. What does this mean for you? It means you have access to readily available grade-level appropriate passages to practice with in your classroom.
And now for something completely different (kinda)! We’re still on the subject of reading, but off the SBA Train for the moment. This week (February 2nd to be exact), The American Library Association posted the 2015 Winners of the Youth Media Awards including both fiction and non-fiction titles! It’s a long and impressive list describing the awards, their winners, and honor books. To make it a bit more manageable for the MS/HS audience, I’ve created a Goodreads Bookshelf of the print winners that you may want to make available for your readers. With a quick skimming of the summaries, you should be able to guide readers to appropriate levels of books.
We know it isn’t practical nor good teaching for students to take the next four to six weeks of class time to test prep, so use these resources to amplify what you’re already doing in the classroom that is best practice.