Level 1: Student did not meet expectations.
Level 2: Student partially met expectations.
Level 3: Student approached expectations.
Level 4: Student met expectations.Level 5: Student exceeded expectations
All levels share a critical term. Expectations.
It's a well chosen word from a PR perspective. Well-chosen, but not correct. Even, kind of, a lie.
After all-- what are expectations? They are an idea you set about before the fact. I have expectations about how my food will taste, and then I taste it. I have expectations about how good a movie will be, and then I watch it.
I don't listen to a new music release and then, after I've heard it, develop some expectations about whether it will be any good.
And in Teacher 101, we all learn that our expectations of our students will shape their performance-- what we expect them to accomplish will affect what they actually accomplish. Expectations are the horse, and performance is the cart.
So if we talk about expectations on a test, that means that before students take the test, we say, "I expect that students who really know this stuff will get at least nine out of ten items correct." In fact, if we're good teachers, we share the expectations with the students so that they know where the bar is set. That way they can also set some expectations.
By talking about "expectations," test manufacturers give the impression that their tests follow a similar chronological procession. They design the test. The set expectations of the "top students will get nine out of ten correct" sort. The students take the test. We score them and see how well they met the expectations.
That, of course, is not how it works at all. The test is designed. Students take the test. We score the test. And then, we set "expectations."
And that can only possibly be true if PARCC headquarters house a time machine.
You cannot set expectations after an event has already occurred.
We need a new word, a different word, for what test manufacturers and bureaucrats do when they set cut scores and decide who does well and who does not, because they are not setting expectations. Words have meaning, and that is not what "expectations" means. They might just as easily says "Student exceeds badgers" or "Student is taller than blue." But to say "student exceeded expectations" when you had no idea what the expectations were before you handed out the test-- that's simply a lie. The use of "expectations" is a way to hide the truth of the process from parents, teachers, students and politicians.