Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Test, Redux

Today was the day
the state posted the results.

I nervously clicked to the website
of disaggregated data
by gender
(I teach only the girls
of our fifth and sixth grade)
my performance
is measured by them alone.

Despite all my rantings and ravings
about high stakes testing
no child left behind--
when the scores come in
I go looking for validation.

I pull up the graphs
the percentages translating
to scores on my own personal report card.

This is how we determine success
for students, as teachers and schools
whole systems...
the newspaper tells everyone
how they fall out.

Here is the conundrum:
how do we hold kids and schools to excellence
while still giving them room to grow
and work at their own pace?

I sat at yoga tonight
unable to find neutral
so much more difficult than a pose
yet after months it still remains elusive.
I thought about learning anything new--
reading or algebra
reaching hopefully for the moment when
the curtains of the universe open
and Ah Ha!
it all makes sense.

It's hard work and time and repetition
and, I think,
a dash of mystery
a hint of magic
to catapult you into understanding.

The test says I left two kids behind
but in my heart I know
they are all at different places
on a journey
figuring out the world.

My success should not be measured
by scores but
do I keep them walking,
looking wide-eyed
at the world,
and do they,
from time to time,
look up and sigh, Ah Ha!
I get it.

That's all I need.


Blogger windblownbutterfly said...

All students should be blessed with teachers with your attitude and outlook.
It disgusts me how our schools, teachers and students are all measured by test scores. Worse yet, the standards are set so impossibly high. Then, they lump private schools, county schools and inner city public schools all together and expect them all to perform equally well. A good portion of students in inner city schools are of extremely low income, many have one or both parents in prison, or on crack, or no parents at all living with grandma who works two jobs to make ends meet, have no responsible adult supervision and no caring adult taking the time to make sure they even go to school let alone do their homework. They live surrounded by violence, crime and welfare and that's all they know. They have no reason to think they deserve and can do better and nobody at home is helping or pushing them to try. Even though there are a lot of hard working kids with wonderful caring parents in those schools, the numbers of troubled children bring the scores for the whole system down. What thinking person could expect that school system to score anywhere near as high as private schools where all the students are there because they have parents who really care about their child's education and are encouraging them and helping them to be successful? If our government would put people with your knowledge and attitude in charge of running schools, I really think the whole system across the country would improve by leaps and bounds.

I am so thankful for the teachers my children have had that are able to really teach and help the children grow in spite of every obstacle the government comes up with to keep them down. :-)

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This took my breath away. It is so how I feel when the scores come out - not wanting to care and yet wanting the validation of a job well done. Yet I know that you did not leave two children behind - you opened the world to them and have given them space to grow. We nuture, water and feed plants but we never expect them to all bloom at the same time - why then do we expect this of children. Maybe we should send Mr Bush a copy of Leo the Late Bloomer!!
Love you

9:22 AM  
Blogger ecm said...

Hi Windblownbutterfly, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I think for me, the constant tension is that the tests are really problematic but many kids have also been passed along without really receiving an education. There has been many a story of graduates from our city school system who can't read. How do we strive for excellence and hold schools to a standard while still making sure the test isn't a detriment. There are no easy answers...

2:24 PM  
Anonymous susanna said...

I am thankful that there are teachers like you who care about their students as individuals and who want them to succeed in tests AND in real life. You are making our world a better place.

PS - Thank you for visiting Mama's Caboose today!

2:39 PM  

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