Saturday, September 28, 2013

We are all more than the numbers that describe us!

This weekend, nearly half a year later, the results of last May's testing of students in grades 3-8 will come home to parents.  They'll be opening the envelopes all over the state with hearts pounding, hoping that their child will be one of the lucky ones who "passes" the test. 

I got my own grade, based largely on the results of students' scores recently and so I think I know just how many of them will be feeling!

Here's what might happen!  You know you (or your child) is working hard and all the feedback from your administrator (or teacher) is really positive and good.  Then you look at the numbers and you think, "Oh my. This is not good enough.  I know I am better than this number," or "Oh my. This is not good enough.  I know my child is better than this number."  For a few days, it stings and you question and you wonder and you make a plan to read more about the CCSS, assessment protocols, learning in the 21st Century and to do better OR for a few days it stings and you question yourself, last year's teacher's efficacy, and you make a plan to keep closer tabs on this year's teacher, your child's reading, the TV, movies, and college plans.

Then, a couple of days later, you talk to a former student's mom in Barnes and Noble.  She says that little Jimmy is begging her for more books about swamps, alligators, frogs...and thanks you profusely for planting the seeds for learning in his soul and while walking out of the store, you see more former students heading into B&N asking you for book suggestions OR a few day later, you are talking to your child at bedtime and they describe their intense desire to learn more about the War of 1812 and biodiversity and worms.  They ask to go to a museum or to have time to read on the weekend and your heart fills with joy once again.  They beg for a few more minutes of reading before they turn out the light.  You oblige.

Over time, the numbers start to be put into some sort of perspective.  You do need to talk about them...and think about how you can be the best you can be.  You reflect how you can do better.  You read more, you talk to your child more, you even go to a workshop on the Common Core! Over time, your heart stops beating so fast and you start putting those numbers into a proper prespective. 

 So when you open that envelope,
  • Remember that "The number of New York students passing dropped drastically, and that based on these standards, only 26 percent of students passed their ELAs." 
  • Remember that parents and teachers everywhere are working hard to fuel the fires of lifelong learning. 
  • Remember that teachers are working hard to assure their instruction aligns with new standards and students are learning new strategies for responding and demonstrating their understanding.
  • Remember that numbers, like name calling, can hurt.
  • Remember that the numbers on the scale, the numbers on the odometer, the numbers on the speedometer, and the numbers on the state tests, are all best understood and analyzed in relation to the many other surrounding factors. 


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