Virtually all New Hampshire school districts are down the road toward using the new Common Core standards to guide their curricula and lesson plans. New Hampshire is scheduled to start using the new Smarter Balanced annual test in the spring of 2015, but many teachers have already reviewed preliminary versions of the test or taken a sample test.
The Sanborn Regional School District (Kingston and Newton) began implementing the Common Core as soon as the new standards were adopted by the State in 2012 and, by now, Sanborn teachers are familiar with the standards in detail and base their entire grading system on progress toward achieving each standard in each grade.
A few days ago, Sanborn teachers have to say about the Smarter Balanced test.
Here are some highlights.
Mark Giuliucci, chair of the social studies department, freshman social studies teacher in his 10th year of teaching, said,
“I took the test at the high school level and I was actually kind of gratified to see some of the things on the test….The student had to write a letter to a government official arguing for one thing or another – and that’s my sweet spot! That’s right where I want to be!
“So I felt empowered by that. I thought they got that one.”
Crystal Lavoie, 9th grade English teacher in her 7th year teaching said,
“I saw interesting questions I didn’t think I would see….I had an essay about two kids who were studying Shakespeare. The kids were talking about Shakespeare and you had to assume that the student who was reading it had already studied that play. You had to use information from the literature…and then apply it….
“I’ve always taught creative writing within my regular curriculum but I never thought it was something my students would be tested on.
“In our journal writing, we do practice making visions come alive…I tell students that if you’re applying for a job you want to make sure you’re telling the whole story… Like Mark, I was kind of validated when I saw that on the assessment with a very specific, real life application to it.”
Carol Marino, 6th grade math teacher in her 6th year of teaching, said,
“There will be a transition. It’s a big shift in math. There’s much more reading involved. And when they do the performance task piece of the Smarter Balanced test, that will be a new experience for them.
“I can see the benefits already, just by doing performance tasks within each unit. The kids are very enthusiastic about performance tasks.”