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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Monday, January 25, 2016

All Hail the CFA

Today, I gave my English III classes their CFAs. That acronym stands for "Common Formative Assessment." The idea behind it is that I map out what my objectives will be for a particular unit, say, as it was in this case, "figurative language and sound devices in poetry."  IOW, metaphors, similes, hyperbole, alliteration, and everyone's favorite ONOMATOPOEIA. (I always get a 

out of saying that. snark, snark)

Anyway, I give the test to discover how much my students know about the objective. When I get the results, I decide if I need to teach the class the objective. (In Education Talk, this is called "whole group remediation. It is a law in education talk that "Thou shalt not use a one syllable word where five syllables will do.")
Or I might pull kids out of their electives and do small group tutoring. (And yes, this is given the title "differentiated remediation."  You get the idea about the syllables by now, don't you.)

So, I gave the CFA to my classes, and since students finish the quizzes at different rates, I had a nice little vocabulary assignment for them to do to finish up the class.  

Actually, it was a fairly easy day for moi, but I don't feel as if I did any great amount of teaching.

Why do we do this?  Well, for the state tests, of course. The objectives we select come straight from the Oklahoma End of Instruction (EOI) Blueprint, which tells us the objectives that will be on the EOI given in April and the percentage each objective will occupy on the tests.  

In other words, we look at the blueprint, look for those objectives most tested and make them a part of our units, which we assess through our CFAs.  Got it?  If it ain't on the test, we ain't teaching it, at least till we get through those EOIs. 

Forget about the broad range of literature our students will never encounter. Forget about the sweep of American/English/World Literature that our students will never connect. Forget about the creative applications that they could be making on their own with what they have studied.  


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