Today we are into our second of three days for state required tests. Standards Based Assessment and the HSGQE. The HSGQE is mandated by law as part of the graduation requirements of Alaska schools. I just hope they are all doing their best. I have worked with the sophomores all year now to get them ready for this test. I have given all of my little test-taking tips and core knowledge of the test. For the READING test, I have continually told them to "put your finger on the answer" for the multiple choice and to quote from the text for the short answer. It's all about text-based support. For the WRITING part, we have deconstructed lots of samples. I have even worked them through how to take multiple choice tests, eliminating two or three answers without even really knowing the "right" answer because they know the "wrong" ones already. We have gone through paragraph writing and transitions. They are ready. Now if they take the test the best they can, they'll do fine.
In comparison, the Alaska state test and the Washington state test are nothing alike in the WRITING test. The READING test is somewhat the same. The WRITING test for Washington focused on writing an expository and a persuasive essay. The Alaska one actually has grammar questions, like spelling and punctuation. The Washington test contains those elements into their scoring rubrics.
I get to sub out for other teachers' classrooms this year so that they may take an hour prep period. I am watching a lot of freshman classes. Freshmen are only (ha, only) taking the SBA test. While it is not a graduation requirement, this is the one test that shapes a lot of instruction and ability groupings. I don't work with freshmen, although I had a majority of them last year while I taught eighth grade writing. I hope they are taking it seriously too. If they only realized the amount of time, hours and days of pre-school inservices, pouring over the data, they would take it very seriously. If they take it seriously, we can really use that data.
I think it is a good tool. I really do. I know there are other factors to doing well in school but one test, one single number, provides a wealth of data that can be used to properly instruct students.