Teacher-Generated Final Exams in High School Science: Content, Rigor, and Assessment Literacy
thesisposted on 2014-06-20, 00:00 authored by Michael C. Lach
This study investigates a large collection of teacher-generated end-of-semester final exams from Chicago Public School high school science classrooms in order to explore the depth and breadth of content that students learn in science classrooms. Teachers focus on a specific set of scientific content that is driven by district guidelines and popular textbooks but not particularly aligned to standards. To most teachers, rigor means coverage instead of intellectual press. The assessments, while unsophisticated, seem to be delivering what is expected of them—a way to mimic the most basic format of the ACT exam quickly. There was little variation among high poverty and low poverty schools, matching national data and indicating issues that are more due to a particular culture of science teaching and learning than driven by particular contexts. The study identifies implications for the observed homogeneity of final exam rigor and content, identifies gaps between how the routine of final exams are design and implemented in schools, and discusses similar methodological efforts that could enhance the ability of schools and districts to access useful information about the technical core of instruction.