Goodbye to Amanda and the Wounded Birds. Farewell to A Hundred Bucks of Happy. Adios to Catch the Moon. We pulled down another carton labeled “dog stories” containing Liberty, Viva New Jersey, The Dog Formally Known as Victor Maximilian Bonaparte Lincoln Rothbaum. They too were discarded without a tear.
What does the story say about people in general? In what ways does it remind you of people you have known or experiences you have had? You may also write about stories or other books you have read, or movies, works of art, or television programs you have seen.
That question was difficult for many of the literal readers, who, in responding to the most obvious plot point, might answer, “This story has a dog and I have a dog.” How else to explain all the dog stories? On other occasions, I found out that while taking standardized test in the elementary grades students had been told, “if you have no connection to the story, make one up!” Over the years, the CAPT turned our students into very creative liars rather than literary analysts.
How successful was the author in creating a good piece of literature? Use examples from the story to explain your thinking.
Many of our students found this a difficult question to negotiate, particularly if they thought the author did not write a good piece of literature, but rather an average or mildly enjoyable story. They did manage to make their opinions known, and one of my favorite student responses began, “While this story is no Macbeth, there are a few nice metaphors…”
Now the CAPT will be replaced by the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC), as Connecticut has selected SBAC as their assessment consortium to measure progress with the Common Core State Standards, and the test will move to 11th grade. This year (2014) is the pilot test only; there are no exemplars and no results. The SBAC is digital, and in the future we will practice taking this test on our devices, so there is no need to hang onto class sets of short stories. So why am I concerned that there will be no real difference with the SBAC? Cleaning the classroom may be a transition that is more symbolic of our move from paper to keyboard than in our gaining an authentic assessment.
Nevertheless, Linda’s classroom looked several tons lighter.
“We are finally de-CAPT-itated!” I announced looking at the stack of boxes ready for the dumpster.
“Just in time to be SBAC-kled!” Linda responded cheerfully.