Sunday, April 19, 2009

End of Course Exams (in Missouri)(again)

This comment arrived earlier today in response to our January post (here) on Missouri testing:
I'm a Biology teacher in Jefferson County, Missouri (Northwest R1). Our EOC's are worth 10% of the student's grade and we have spent the last two years (including the preparation for field testing in 2008) preparing ourselves as teachers to bring our teaching in line with the EOC's.

Three years ago Missouri published Course Level Expectations to replace the more general Grade Level Expectations. We realigned our curriculum to match these new CLE's with the understanding that the coming EOC's would be built from these new CLE's.

It's been alot of work. In my opinion, EOC's are easier to prepare our students for than the old MAP tests because EOC's are course specific and relevant in both time and content.

I'm interested to see how my students perform this year as our testing cycle begins Monday, April 20th. What I've seen of the test looks challenging since we teach Biology to freshmen, but I do believe that the long term outlook will be to bring the level of our Biology classes to a higher standard.

As to subpar teachers facing no consequences - I haven't seen that in either of the two school districts I've worked in recently. Lots of pressure on us to get our students' performance up - it's a prime feature in our MSIP (Missouri School Improvement Plan) program so everyone is concerned about making it happen here. The only way that I can make that happen is to fully prepare my students for the test.

In fact, right now I'm reviewing the results of a practice EOC that we worked on in class Friday after spending two days reviewing material that the EOC might cover.

Questions about the validity of standardized testing are legitimate but, as a teacher, I appreciate knowing what is expected of me and having some kind of benchmark to show whether I'm reaching those expectations or not.

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