Being that I work in a charter school, my administration is very data-driven. They're constantly throwing out numbers at us and asking us to report numbers to them. Then, a couple times a year, just for good measure, they pull us into meetings with our CEO where we have to justify our data. Teachers are asked to outline what we're doing to address the GLEs that have not yet been mastered and how what extra measures we're taking for our lowest students.
The GLE tracker is somewhat a joke for ELA, at least at the 8th grade level, which is highly focused on reading comprehension. Our unit tests and other major assessments are created by our department heads to be aligned to the state test. The problem? They require students to be able to read at grade level.
So, at each meeting, when I'm asked how I use this data, I honestly tell them that I only use it for reporting purposes. It does not inform my instruction because it doesn't accurately measure whether or not my students understand the standards; it only addresses their reading comprehension over and over again. And I already know my students don't read on grade level. I have plenty of data on that!
At my last meeting, my CEO and principal asked me how we can better track ELA (because all of the ELA teachers in my building are reporting this same issue). I told them that if they want to measure the standard, they need to level the reading so students can comprehend the texts.
The problem, though, is that the state standardized tests are exactly the same. It's not a new article, but I just came across There's No Such Thing As a Reading Test, and I feel like shouting from the rooftops, "This is exactly what I've been saying all along!"
Even if the reading level is appropriate, I have no way of knowing the content. This, of course, is a problem because I can't possibly build my students' background knowledge on everything in the world. What I mean by this is that on a science test, all of the reading passages should cover the content in the GLEs. Teachers had an entire school year to build that knowledge and define the appropriate vocabulary. Same for social studies. In ELA, however, my standards include teaching students how to read. And there's no good way to measure that on a standardized test.
The following excerpt from the text demonstrates what I mean: