We’ve surveyed rank and file members about issues related to REACH PTs. We heard back from educators across the district, and the responses were troubling. Scroll down for some observations from fellow members:
We’ll start with a communication that the PPLC of one South Side High School sent to CPS:
As the elected representatives of staff and teachers at our high school, we are deeply concerned that the district is clearly not prepared to implement the REACH evaluation system properly this year.
The most glaring piece of evidence being that the district offered to print the BEGINNING Of Year Performance Tasks and administrators encouraged us all to order these tests from Downtown and wait for them to be delivered. Now the entire 1st Quarter is done, the new deadline is December 2nd (almost 50% of the way through the year.) and we just received our assessments.
This feels like a combination of disrespect and incompetence from the district. We can assure you that teachers have already been teaching these skills and now will not be able to accurately demonstrate student growth. Is the district going to give everyone points on their evaluation to cover their error? Or, should we just admit that the system is NOT ready to go all in on this process again. Administrators are overwhelmed and their greatest stressor is REACH evaluations for their entire school. Two observations for every teacher is a bit much at this time. Teachers certainly don’t have time to deal with the extra paperwork either. If they really want to keep REACH valid, they should at least give all the proficient and above teachers a pass until they can negotiate a more reasonable evaluation schedule in the next contract and give everyone else maximum points for the performance tasks which are now invalid as a full year of growth baseline.
The tests were written for children two years older than my students. They were not developmentally appropriate for kindergarten students.
First Grade Reading
The first grade test was too difficult. Many of the students were crying and frustrated.
The literacy PT was absurd. My first graders had no clue what was being asked of them and were frustrated that I couldn’t offer them any support. In a classroom, we give our students appropriately challenging work but even pre assessments should be simple and make sense. The questions were multi-step with unclear directions and the wording did not help. The expectations were inappropriate and students were very confused that they were being asked to do something that felt way too hard for them. It was a waste of instructional time and emotionally painful and/or confusing for students.
Second Grade Reading
The REACH literacy performance task included a text that was too complex for most of my students to access successfully, especially given the complex assessment questions they were expected to take on after the reading. This caused stress and anxiety for my students, as well as made the assessment feel worthless and invalid in collecting true data on what my students actually knew and might be able to do.
Our reading task was not only difficult but the book assigned to the task was inappropriate for our grade level.
The book, “When Angels Sing,” used for the second grade Language Arts REACH was too long and too complex. The question asking students to compare the text of the book to the author’s note was not a good one given that the differences were not obvious. After listening to a long read aloud of the main text, they may not have much attention left by the time the author’s note was read aloud to them. Some kids were brought to tears when attempting to answer this question.
Second Grade Mathematics
The second grade Math REACH assessment had the first line of a number story on the very bottom of the page before. We noted this for the students, but some students still did not use the number provided in that line of text and therefore did not complete the work accurately. All of the information needed for a problem should be on the same page!
Fourth Grade Reading
It was very difficult for students. Way over their heads.
What the students are required to do in literacy is extremely difficult. There are so many sets of directions. 9 year olds should not be synthesizing information from two 3-page texts.
Fifth Grade Reading
It was poorly written. It frustrated my students– some were crying.
Highly developmentally inappropriate. Having to read 3 passages, filling in graphic organizers, and writing an essay in one hour is unrealistic even at the end of the year. I had students crying because it was so overwhelming to them, even though I told them it’s okay if they don’t know how to do it because I haven’t taught it to them yet.
Sixth Grade Reading
I teach 6th grade and the performance task for that level is too challenging and limited in time. It creates anxiety in students, especially for our diverse learners who are also English language learners.
Diverse Learners Reading and Mathematics
Significantly modified was very difficult for students in grades 2-4. The story for second grade was too long, and students were not able to sit or focus for more than 4-5 minutes. Math was also too difficult for my group of students.
My diverse learners (grades 3-5) couldn’t even read it. The skills asked of them were way beyond their skill level.
The REACH BOY PTs for this course are about Slavery and the Constitution–a topic which I had already extensively covered prior to receiving the Performance Task in the middle of October. This is problematic on a few levels. First, I can’t pre-assess student understanding of content or skills using pre-assessments which are assessing content that I have already taught and assessed. Also, this could potentially harm my REACH evaluation scores, as students will most likely score at higher levels than they would, had they been assessed at the beginning of the school year. Finally, it became a major waste of time, when we were already moved on to a new topic. AP pacing is very tight, and losing a day to a useless measure is really frustrating.
High School Biology
My freshmen freaked out because the biology exam is very complex and unfamiliar. This is undo stress.
High School World Language
When PTs arrive more than 1/4 of the way through the school year there’s no way they can be used to evaluate our students’ growth. The WL novice task asks students a lot of information they have already learned prior to the end of Q1. Now they will know most of the content on the task and our ratings will not look like our students made growth because we are doing our jobs well. This cannot be a metric used to evaluate us this year.