Yesterday I had the privilege of marking Grade 8 PBA’s with my school’s Literacy Team. I was with English and Social Studies teachers so I was glad that the test-piece was an excerpt from the Science textbook! The process is an invaluable endeavour to examine what actions we as educators can take to best help students and their achievement.
After marking the PBA’s, we had the luxury of time to discuss some commonalities we observed in the students’ work. There were the typical mechanical issues identified around note taking skills and inferencing, but one overarching thought that ran through my head was: How do we truly assess what is going on in the head of our students? From the fun picture above, there is clearly a lot going on. From the PBA’s, it was clear that there was more going on at a cerebral level than what made it on to the paper or was recorded from the oral section. For instance, many students were able to infer what the passage was about without identifying text features/pictures/diagrams. As a team, we talked about the way the instructions for certain questions were constructed and came up with some good modifications. In addition, we agreed to continue the conversation to dig deeper into what is truly going on upstairs and getting it to a measurable level.