I could not stop yawning all day today. I hope my students didn’t notice, but I’m sure they did.
Today was an exhausting day.
It was a day that seemed dominated by talk of tests, test scores, grades, and, “Do I have to?” I want to be teach an engaging curriculum that doesn’t solicit, “Is this going to be on the test?” I want to assign activities fun enough to never hear, “Is this good enough? Can I stop now?”
Today, we had a meeting about our lowest students. Those who “struggle” were identified by their standardized test scores, and we talked (sort of?) about how to help them. The goal is to see growth, as measured by improved FCAT scores at the end of the year.
One student recently moved from Arizona and has no previous FCAT score. The argument was made we therefore can not show growth and should assume whatever help he gets is good enough. We should focus on the other kids first. At this same meeting, it was stated that we need to make sure SLD students make progress. There are also struggling students who do not have a learning disability, but whether or not their scores go up don’t matter as much because the state won’t count them as their own subgroup.
These ideas demonstrate several implicit beliefs:
- High-stakes, standardized test scores are the only way to measure student growth or learning.
- Students with learning disabilities should be entitled to accommodations and intervention, but no one else.
- We should not worry about student progress until they have attended schools in our state for at least one year.
Sound education policy?
Of course not. Unfortunately, these are the procedures our principal deems necessary as a result of various mandates handed down from the state and federal government.
Every student has a right to free and appropriate (i.e., effective) public education. Not just those with disabilities. Not just those who are lucky enough to stay in one place. Not just those whose standardized test scores don’t meet our expectations.
On days like today, I find myself frustrated.
And so I need to be reminded that teaching is not just a job. It is a calling from God to love and serve these children and their families. Even though I am anxious to soon have my own classroom, I need to be reminded that I still need to work hard and give it my all. I need to be reminded of my inadequacies and the necessity that I lean on Jesus.
On days like today, I need to take a deep breath.