Fourth grade teacher, Kent, WA
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” -- Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Last year we began the year at my school teaching the Washington State Standards. Then, in late fall, we received word that our district would be part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) field test. At that point, we dropped the WA EALRs and switched to Common Core State Standards. It was not easy. We didn’t have CCSS aligned materials, we had to search them out and create our own. We started learning everything we could about the SBAC field test so we could prepare our students and not have them go into it completely blind. At times, it felt like a storm. In the midst of our first full year with CCSS and quickly approaching the Smarter Balanced Assessment (the “C” has been dropped, read this post for more on SBA acronyms) window, it can feel still like a storm. However, I refuse to be afraid. We’re all in this together, and we’re going to make it through.
My personal philosophy, and hope, is that if I use the Common Core State Standardsto drive my instruction, that my students will be college and career ready (after completing a few more years of school anyway), and ready for the SBA. However, the SBA is new, it’s different, and I’m grateful that we had last year to prepare. We knew we wouldn’t be getting scores back from the field test. We have no data to show whether the strategies we used were successful based on SBA results. What I do know is that our preparations as a staff helped our students feel prepared. And, after the end of a lengthy testing period my students walked away from the tests feeling confident. They were not defeated. They were not scared. They did not feel like they were in the midst of a storm, and they do not view the approaching SBA as something to worry about. So, even without data, I know we were successful. Here are six things I learned last year that I hope you will find helpful in navigating through the storm.
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