On Wednesday, parents filled room 518, which had been fortified for the occasion with extra tables and chairs. Principal Pete Karp and science teacher Kristen Bonnici talked about the quantity and nature of student assignments, specified how the complexity of those assignments progressed as students got older, and pointed out how having teachers teach both middle school and high school grades helped them to tweak assignments and curriculum--because they have the benefit of being able to look both backwards and forwards. They introduced us to the ICE Core Practices which are meant to inform all assignments and distributed and walked us through one particular cycle project (in 8th grade science). Afterwards, they passed out one more piece of student work, an 11th grade science paper. Groups of parents then chose to look in depth at either the 8th grade or 11th grade paper. They read to check for evidence of the core practices and reflected on whether the student was weaker or stronger in meeting specific targets. (The time allotted and our not knowing the students--or having been presented with the full scope of their work--meant that we could not truly "grade" them.)
Although your reporter walked into the meeting already inclined to favor this approach to assessment, one in which the student has time to draft and revise and has multiple opportunities to show evidence of learning over time--contrast that to the sit-down-once-and-fill-in-some-bubbles-or-short-responses that typify the state tests for 3-12 graders!--I still learned a lot. I was particularly impressed with how the complex nature of the assignments would allow the teacher (and student) to be able to distinguish that, for example, the writing needed work but the research was well conducted. The meeting included some Q&A with parents. One concern that emerged was college. Pete answered that even if you discount the growing numbers of schools that are SAT optional or discounting the SAT altogether, ICE (and the Consortium) have been forging relationships with many sought-after colleges and our students are getting in on the strength of these nontraditional assessments.
Hand outs will be posted in next week's Newsletter.
6th & 9th Grade Parent