I’m not trying to be interesting in this post. NBCT Mathematics AYA Component 4 is very difficult to make heads or tails of. I wished there were something to read to help me make sense of it, but I found nothing so I wrote this.

**What’s the big picture?**

NBCT is great at giving you all the details in a long jargon-riddled list without any structure. Here is some three-syllable word salad describing your Component 4 submission.

Having trouble? I am! Luckily I’m here to simplify this for me:

**You submit two assessments, one formative and one summative.**This is the core of the portfolio. You have to show that you do this well. “Doing this well” is defined in a bunch of different ways. You have to show that kids learned stuff. You have to show that the assessments were fair and helped learning. NBCT also thinks that students should be*self*-assessing, so you have to show that kids are using your assessments to figure out what they know on their own. (Whatever.) Most importantly, however, you have to show that the assessments were based off of knowledge of students…**You show that you go out and get knowledge about students from families and colleagues. This knowledge of the kids influences your assessments.**Since the assessments are supposed to be tailored to the kids, you have to show that you went out and gathered info about the kids. The evidence that shows that you did this needs to be evidence of your communication with parents or colleagues, so notes, emails, transcripts, past info from earlier teachers. Remember: this info needs to be used to explain how you custom designed assessments for this group of kids.**Finally, you show evidence that assessment and learning about the kids created problems that you need to solve. Two problems, actually: a professional learning problem and a student problem. You show where these problems came from and that you solved them effectively.**Seriously? There’s a “Description of a Student Need” form? A “Description of Professional Learning Need Form”? Yes, there is. This is NBCT at it’s most bureaucratilicious. You have to show how meeting both*your*learning need and the*students’*needs helped the kids, with evidence and stuff.

**OK super-quick summary: **The core idea is that you’re showing that you’re effective at getting relevant info and using it to help kids. Relevant info about kids comes in two forms: info from inside your classroom (assessments) and from outside your classroom (colleagues, families). You show how the outside info impacts your assessments. And then you show how all this creates the need for *more *outside info, and that you can get that outside info and turn it into results inside your classroom.

**Is this impossible? **Yes this sounds very difficult.

**What else are you thinking? **I’m thinking that it could be helpful to look at the rubric for grading your submission. What are the verbs here?

The verbs: **collaborates; applies knowledge; understands assessment; selects/creates assessments; analyzes data; helps students apply feedback; encourages self-assessment; reflects; expands professional knowledge.**

(OK so I included adverbs and direct objects sue me.)

**What’s your plan? **I really have no idea. This is an overwhelming submission in a way the other components of NBCT are not.

**OK but seriously you must have a plan? **I think it makes sense to start with the assessments and work backwards and forwards.

I’m going to look at my next unit and start writing a formative assessment. And I’m going to make a list of ways that the assessment could be different, depending on things that I don’t know about kids. Then, I’m going to find out those things about the kids. That should take care of 2/3 of the submission.

The really tricky part seems to be part 3. I need to show that the assessment/knowledge of kids pointed me to something that I need to learn **and **some student need that required collaboration. Then I need to show that I learned this thing/addressed this need. Then I need to show pre- and post- evidence that shows that my learning and my dealing with the student need impacted the *kids *positively.

I can easily imagine how I’ll address the professional learning needs. The assessments might raise aspects of student thinking that I’ll need to better understand. I could ask colleagues, or I could ask people on twitter to help me out. I also have kids with IEPs or behavior issues that are tricky to deal with, and I could imagine telling NBCT about how I learn more about that.

What’s a student need? Seriously, what are they imagining here?

So…

Hmm.

So, I guess the assessments will raise issues. I mean not to be stupid but if I notice that something isn’t being particularly well-taught and then I blog about it and then I get evidence from someone who reads my blog that they changed their teaching…would that be what the NBCT is looking for?

Or if I realize that kids need more practice on some skill because the parents are worried about the SAT, so I get in touch with parents and point them to resources, and then the parents use those resources and I can show that kids do better on SAT problems, would that be addressing a student need?

Or…I’m stumped on this.

Or I give a webinar presentation on something that comes up in this assessment, and then I *very nicely beg* people to share evidence from their classrooms that shows how what I shared helped their kids?

Lalala this is fun.

**OK wrap it up: **In summary, this is a lot of work. The end.

Also I made some docs to help me plan for the written commentary. I don’t know how helpful they’ll be.

Thanks for posting this.

I wonder if the student need could be something mathematical such as “students need more support in making mathematical justifications” or “students need support in self-identifying and correcting errors” (not sure where your students are, but this would be huge for my students). You might be then able to collaborate with other math teachers at your school or district or look at how to collaborate across disciplines. Also sitting down to make sense of Components 2 and 4 now and it’s a lot of heavy language.

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Questions from the written commentary (5 pages)

“… to future …”

Is that a verb ?

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Thanks so much for posting this. I did Components 1-3 last year, and I completely agree with you that this one feels overwhelming in a way that the others didn’t. This post (and your follow-up) really helped me stop avoiding Component 4 and get started! I forwarded it to some colleagues who are also doing C4. Thanks again.

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