Exemplary Proficiency Level: 8th Grade Earth Science

The Earth Science Regents exam is a high school level end of year assessment for New York State.

Support materials:
Narrative

Overall rating & analysis

Overall rating: Two E strands equal an overall E rating.

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Exemplary

Strand 1: The Big Goal’s appropriateness for all students, reasoned ambitiousness, and sources.

Adopts a broad, generic goal that aspires to be ambitious and feasible for the entire class and achieves that balance for at least half of the teacher’s students

Designs a goal that is both ambitious and feasible for most students, based on reasoning informed by multiple sources, including diagnostic results for mastery goals

Designs feasible, highly ambitious goals that require intense work from each and every student, based on reasoning informed by multiple sources, including diagnostic results for mastery goals

Strand 2: The teacher’s understanding of how accomplishing goals will demonstrate mastery of standards and increase students’ opportunities in life.

Describes how the goal is aligned to key standards and identifies a basic tool of measuring achievement of the goal.

Describes how the goal is aligned to all key standards, explains broadly what students should know, understand or be able to do in order to achieve the goal, and cites the necessary assessment tools (e.g. achievement tests, performance-based assessments, etc.) that will be most meaningful to students’ lives when measuring the different facets of the goal

Describes how the goal is aligned to all key standards, explains the specific and prioritized knowledge and skills that each student will need to master in order to reach the goal – including pre-requisites – and cites a specific set of balanced measurement tools to measure different facets of the goal that will be most meaningful to students’ lives

 

Analysis: Why did the teacher receive these ratings?

Rating: EStrand 1: The Big Goal’s appropriateness for all students, reasoned ambitiousness, and sources.

Why E?

The teacher "designs feasible highly ambitious goals that require intense work from each and every student, based on reasoning informed by multiple sources, including diagnostic results for mastery goals." The teacher’s initial goals are that 100% of students will pass the Regents exam with the goal that her students with the lowest diagnostic scores would target a 65% on the exam, her students with mid-range scores would target a 75%, and her highest scoring students would target a 85%. In addition, she set differentiated growth goals around foundational scientific skills based on the NWEA's guidelines for ambitious growth. The teacher’s goal that "100% of my students would take and pass the Regents Earth Science exam," which would require 8th grade students to master high school level material, is "highly ambitious" and would "require intense work from each and every student." (i.e., "Given the rigor of the exam, just passing is pretty ambitious. My kids would have to learn some of the same content that I did in my college freshmen earth science course. Regents exams are typically given in high school, and the Earth Science exam is typically given in the 10th grade.")

The goal was "feasible" because it was "based on reasoning informed by multiple sources" including students’ academic records, previous teachers, standardized test scores, diagnostic results, as well as two Earth Science Regents teachers.

In addition, the teacher has sufficient knowledge of the nexus of ambitiousness and feasibility for each student to set individual NWEA targets for students and periodically raise the Regents mastery targets as well as NWEA targets whenever students are on track to exceed the teacher’s initial goals. (i.e., "There were five students scoring at about 200 on the math section of the NWEA. This means they were performing on an early fourth-grade level and needing to develop skills such as multiplying a whole number by a fraction, which will be important when pursuing radioactive dating and half-lives later on in the year. For these students, I challenged them to score 70% on content-mastery assessments that require pre-requisite skills and to score a 65% on the Regents; for students approaching grade-level on the NWEA, I set the mastery target at 80% and the Regents target at 70%; and for students at grade level, I considered 85% "mastery" and aimed to see 75% on the Regents. I expected all students working on pre-requisite skills to "master" these at 85%.")

Rating: E Strand 2: The teacher’s understanding of how accomplishing goals will demonstrate mastery of standards and increase students’ opportunities in life.

Why E?

The teacher "describes how the goal is aligned to all key standards." She explains, in detail, how she grouped and sequenced all content standards into units in order to cover all the material tested on the regents exam. (i.e., "We started the year with a unit on measurement and topographic maps; then there was a unit on dynamic earth that included plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes; then a unit on minerals; then rocks; then landscapes; earth history; insulation; meteorology; climate; and the last unit of the year was astronomy.")

In addition, the teacher "explains the specific and prioritized knowledge and skills that each student will need to master in order to reach the goal-including pre-requisites." In the narrative, the teacher uses the landscape unit as an example of how she breaks down the knowledge and skills the class will need to master in a unit into clear and measurable pieces. She also discusses her process of prioritizing what she plans to teach students "based both on what would be most likely to appear on the Regents, but more importantly on which standards represented the fundamental understandings in earth science as well as the transferable scientific skills that students would need to succeed in future grades." In addition to delineating the knowledge and skills the entire class needs to master, the teacher has used the diagnostic to identify "pre-requisites" that individuals or groups of students will also need to be taught. (i.e., "For example, from the diagnostic, I was able to discern that almost all students struggled to interpret line graphs. However, there was a subset of students who also struggled to read bar graphs, as well as one student who still could not read pie charts. I collected this kind of data for each student, so that I knew exactly how to get every student where they needed to be by test time.").

The teacher "cites a specific set of balanced measurement tools on which the goal can be judged" including a bank of old Regents exams, labs, written essay exams, the NWEA, and the Regents test itself.

Finally, the teacher sets her goals, "taking into account which transferable skills, even outside the direct scope of the subject area being taught, and which tools of assessment will be most meaningful to students’ lives." The teacher sets goals around foundational math and science skills "outside the direct scope" of the NYS Earth Science curriculum including ""scientific inquiry," "number sense," "computation and estimation," "measurement" and "problem solving"" to ensure that students grow on the transferable scientific skills that they will use in future grades. Also, the teacher chooses the Regents exam to assess students mastery of her goal because of the ways in which passing the Regents exam, as 8th graders, will be meaningful to her students’ lives. (i.e., "In determining the big goal for the year, I was really saying to myself, "My mission is to close the achievement gap. What does that mean in my specific context for my students?" Given that my kids were in 8th grade, that there's this Regents framework in New York City, that my students have to apply to high schools-given all of that... I knew that if they'd do well on this test, they'd have different choices for high school, which could theoretically change their entire futures.")