(SPRINGFIELD, Ky.) – Erica Baker, 7th and 8th grade science teacher at North Washington Elementary School, was recently selected to assist the Kentucky Department of Education on two components of the state’s new science assessment system. Baker is a 1996 graduate of Anderson County High School. She then earned a bachelor’s degree in middle school education with a dual certification in language arts and science from Saint Catharine College. She also received a master’s degree in teacher leadership from the University of the Cumberlands. Baker taught at Washington County Middle School for two years, later transferring to NWES. She is beginning her fifth year in the district.
The first science assessment project she assisted was the Through Course Task (TCT) Field Test, Student Work Review, and Task Update. The Kentucky Through Course Tasks focus on the science and engineering practices while incorporating scientific concepts. Each teacher was required to administer one task of her choice last year. The teachers who served on the KDE team then worked with the TCT they had facilitated in their own classrooms. Baker, along with her review team partner, analyzed student work and revised the task to make it more user friendly for teachers and students. “I decided to take on this work to get more familiar with the science assessment process,” says Baker. “This gave me an opportunity to collaborate with other teachers that teach the same grade level across the state. It also helped me to grow in my knowledge of the process by which these assessments are developed. In addition, I was able to review student work from all over the state on one of the TCTs that my students participated in. This helped me see where our students are compared to other students around the state.”
Baker also participated in a project that focused on developing alternate assessments for middle school science students. “This was a unique experience for me since I had no previous knowledge of alternate assessments. I had the opportunity of collaborating with one other middle school science teacher from Crittenden County as well as a seasoned special education teacher from Warren County. I grew in my knowledge of accommodations in assessments and in how these types of assessments are developed. This gave me a greater understanding of the special education services and helped me to see how I can use the ideas and strategies to accommodate for all students in my classroom. It will help the district because I have learned a process for making sure the task is aligned and user friendly. I also learned how to objectively measure student work using a set of criteria.”
Baker, (second row, seventh from left) with the team that worked on assessments for the Kentucky Department of Education. (Photo submitted)
Baker decided to accept the project opportunities from KDE because she wanted to push herself to higher levels of professional learning. “These kinds of experiences help to develop my skills as a teacher leader in the district. It is my desire to share all that I have learned with the other science teachers in the district to strengthen our science department and prepare us for the future in science assessment.”
According to Cherry Boyles, the district’s Chief Academic Officer, “Erica’s leadership at the district and state level will improve science instruction and assessment for all students. She is passionate about her content and works diligently to meet the needs of every student every day. We are so proud that her commitment and dedication have been recognized by others outside of our district.”
While reflecting on her summer work, Baker adds, “The Washington County School District has been beyond supportive in my growth as an educator. I am extremely thankful. I can’t think of a better place to call home on a personal level and professional level!”