What is a PBAT, Anyway?
by Xianle Jin
This year a shifting change in our school is that graduation requirements have changed from Regent exams to PBATs (Performance Based Assessment Tasks). Many students raised questions about PBATs since it's the first time we heard about it and misconceptions also came up. As an observer of senior RG Raymond's history PBAT Presentation and personal statement, it clarified my thoughts of what PBAT really are and how it helps us to get ready for college.
With the help and advice from mentor teacher Ms.Rebecca, RG revised his research paper and worked on it for several months to meet the qualifications listed on the rubric. They meet every Thursday morning during mentor sessions and focused on details of the research paper such as analysis and sources.
Then RG, Ms. Katie, Ms. Rebecca and Ms. Polanco sat at a table, as the presenter faces towards the teachers in order to have a direct eye contact. In comparison, it’s more formal and challenging than our normal portfolios due to the increased attention the presenter is receiving and the increased difficulty of the research paper. Speaking fluently with evidence and analysis is also what made students struggle.
However, in some ways it probably is more beneficial for English learners who might struggle to pass exams because at least students can know their weakness and improve them with teacher’s guidance. During the presentation, R.G first introduced himself for about 5 minutes. He used the time wisely to get comfortable with speaking and to also adjust his nervousness.
Then, R.G was asked respectfully to leave the room while teachers stayed inside and decided what questions they might ask him and how can they give most help. After that, R.G came back to the classroom with confidence and provided some background information and evidence from research paper that supported his thesis statement. The presentation was about 10 minutes. R.G talked about how Martin Luther King Jr. was influenced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi by pointing out some of their greatest achievements and similarities they shared as influential leaders.
In the next 10-15 minutes, teachers asked RG questions about his researching process and content-related ideas to see if he fully understand the topic. There were also questions where R.G was asked to draw connections between his topic and other world events or personal experiences. After he finished answering several questions, R.G was ready to jump into his personal statement. In this section he did not have to introduce his paper, instead it started with questions from teachers. R.G talked about how he overcomes issues at school and family, how all those things made him unique. Teachers tried to push R.G to reflect what he had achieved in the past and take the time to think deeply of his identity. At this point R.G is almost done with today’s presentation, he left the room with a short self-reflection he needs to fill out and waited outside for another 10-15 min. Three teachers discussed R.G’s overall performance and came to consensus. Rubrics and evaluations were completed throughout the conversation. Finally, R.G returned and listened carefully to feedback from teachers and about whether he needs to make more improvements or not. Each presentation may be different based on the subject and who you are presenting to.
After R.G Raymond finished his presentation, he described feeling “ very calm and confident now. Because I’m R.R, I would say I like the PBAT presentation more because it gives me time to express myself. I can do research about things I know, and things I like instead of some multiple choice questions that no one cares. Because I’m R.G, so the challenging part about doing PBAT is the writing section, even though I had lots to say but sometimes it’s difficult to put ideas onto the paper.”
Another senior student Tashi who presented on the same day shared her experiences saying “I get nervous during presentation but I’m happy that I passed my science PBAT. Teachers asked lots of questions, I get confused. But I think students have more chance to pass PBAT than Regents because we know what to study and how to make it better! ” While seniors done with their missions and saw the advantages of PBAT, lots of 10th graders and juniors did say that they felt overwhelmed of how much work is in front of them.
I also had a conversation with Ms. Katie, Ms. Rebecca and Ms. Polanco who are the evaluators of R.G’s presentation. It’s not only a challenge for students, but also for teachers. Sometimes, it’s difficult for teachers to make agreements on final scores because they all had seen student’s hard working and want them to pass the requirement. But on the other side, they also had the expectation for students who can do a better job to keep making progress and have a project that they can really be proud of. If there is one section of the research paper is graded as “Needs Revisions”, it means student need to edit their paper again and resubmitted to teachers they presented to. So some students may have an excellent presentation but their research paper needs more development.
At the end, I hope this will be helpful and everyone can try their best to get a satisfying result!
1. Prepare note cards even if you remembered everything. It shows that you are putting efforts and it will help decreasing pressures.
2. Make sure all the evidence in the paper is cited even if it’s paraphrased. Bibliography and in text citation are required, otherwise it might be considered plagiarism even if you don’t mean it and no one would want to get in trouble.
3. Making clear eye contact with teachers and speaking in a proper speed. Use hand gestures if necessary.
4. Try to give as much details as you can.
5. Be patience while you wait outside and maybe go over some of the arguments and details in the paper if possible.