Instruction Update: February 28, 2019

Instruction Update: February 28, 2019
Posted on 02/28/2019

As we look ahead to the beginning of MCAS in April (see schedule below), teachers have been working hard to ensure that students are ready by teaching a rigorous curriculum aligned to the MA Frameworks, incorporating MCAS-style questions, teaching test-taking strategies, and reflecting on student work in order to adjust their instruction. Looking ahead to the month of March our Instruction meetings will focus on test-taking strategies and how to incorporate them into the classroom.

Putnam Ave. MCAS Schedule

  ELA Math Science
Grade 6 Tues. 4/9/19
Wed. 4/10/19
Thurs. 4/11/19 (make-ups)
Tues. 5/7/19
Wed. 5/8/19
Thurs. 5/9/19 (make-ups)
Grade 7 Tues. 4/23/19
Wed. 4/24/19
Thurs. 4/25/19 (make-ups)
Mon. 5/13/19
Tues. 5/14/19
Mon. 5/20/19 (make-ups) 
Grade 8 Tues. 4/30/19
Wed. 5/1/19
Thurs. 5/2/19 (make-ups)
Thurs. 5/16/19
Fri. 5/17/19
Mon. 5/20/19 (make-ups) 
Tues. 5/21/19
Wed. 5/22/19
Thurs. 5/23/19 (make-ups) 

What does MCAS assess?
MCAS assesses our progress at each grade toward the state standards in English and Math, and in 8th grade Science.

In each area, scores are reported in the following categories:

  • Exceeding Expectations,
  • Meeting Expectations,
  • Partially Meeting Expectations, and
  • Not Meeting Expectations.

Please note that although MCAS testing is important, it is only one measure of a student’s academic knowledge, and MCAS scores do not determine a student’s success, failure, or promotion as a middle school student.

What types of questions are asked?
How have teachers been preparing?

During our Instruction and Learning common planning time, grade-level and specialty teams have dug deeper into norming our expectations with the MCAS rubric for constructed response in both English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. In ELA we have wrestled with the questions: What makes a central idea insightful and fully developed? How are students doing more than just selecting the right evidence?

In Math, we have also used the MCAS rubric to score constructed response questions and have grappled with questions such as: How do we help students persist through multi-step problems and constructed response questions? How do we teach students to transfer their work from scrap paper to the computer screen? How do we work with students to appreciate the context of a constructed response question and check to see if their answer is reasonable given the context?

We have also looked at both data and student work from our recent assessments: Putnam Ave. Writing Assessment (given in January) and our Cumulative Math Assessments (given in late January/early February). As teams, we have considered areas for improvement (i.e. how students are using or not using evidence) and opportunities for re-teaching, resulting in team approaches to providing students with feedback and more opportunities to see models and practice skills.

How can you help?

  • Please encourage your student to give their best effort during the test.
  • Ask your student to share with you what they are writing about in school. They should be able to tell you something in every class, including specialties!
  • Ask your student (or their advisor, or their Math or ELA teacher) how they did on the PAUS Writing Assessment or their recent Math Cumulative Assessment
  • Remind students how important it is to answer every part of a question and to show their work or explain their ideas.
  • Use the language of Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (C-E-R) when you talk with your child. Encourage your child to use a C-E-R framework when trying to convince you of something or when viewing the news or reading an article. When your child makes a claim, ask:
    • “Why?” or “What makes you say that?”
    • “How do you know that?” or “What evidence do you have?”
    • “Why is this important?”
  • It is important that your child gets a good night’s sleep the day before testing and has a full and healthy breakfast on the morning of testing to ensure that they are at their best and ready to perform.
  • Continue to make sure that your child is reading every night.
  • Review and discuss with your child test-taking strategies, which can be found here.
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