Stuff Students Say

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 16 2012

And on the last day of state standardized testing…

…I took my kids out for an unscheduled recess and they started playing a very spirited game of boys vs. girls soccer.  If I haven’t said it enough before, my kids live for soccer and were ridiculously happy to unexpectedly get to play at the end of a long two days of testing.  One of my very unathletic girls scored a goal, and it was adorable how excited the other kids were for her.  Then, just as staff members started coming outside for bus duty, one of my boys managed to send a very hard kick flying into the parking lot, where it hit my unsuspecting principal square in the face.  I’ve never seen my kids fall dead silent so quickly.  To their credit, they looked to me for guidance, but unfortunately I was putting all my mental energy into just keeping a straight face.  To my principal’s credit, he took it like a champ and threw the ball back over the fence.


…Only one more of my kids passed the test, and the overall sixth grade scores ended up at a little more than 50% passing.  Better than last year’s, but far from sufficient and definitely not achievement gap-closing.  Ultimately, I’m proud of the kids who made a lot of progress since the first testing date in February.  They worked hard to improve, and even the ones who didn’t quite earn a passing score definitely improved their math abilities in the past few months.  I’m concerned beyond measure for the kids whose scores were abysmally low, and remained that way.

These are my kids who started the year behind, put in little to no effort during math class throughout the year, had serious behavior issues, etc.  They will end the year even farther behind, and it’s only going to get harder for them to catch up in the future.  I don’t in any way believe that these math scores are the sole determinant of their futures.  But their lack of work ethic?  The lessons that they don’t learn when they screw up and receive no meaningful consequences?  This is what scares me.


…Instead of finishing my grad school final, I spent my little bit of downtime during testing trying to plan for the last 4 weeks of school.  I’m excited to get to squeeze in a few learning activities that don’t revolve around test prep.   Science Fair projects, and finishing Hunger Games are both on the list.  But priority #1 is making sure that my whole class has a better conceptual understanding of fractions and decimals before they go to 7th grade.  And thus I’m off to Office Depot to laminate fraction circles. Exciting Wednesday night.


2 Responses

  1. Anna

    Hi. Have enjoyed your blog this year! One year my younger son scored at the 30th percentile on his standardized testing. The next year he scored at the 80th percentile. I was perplexed (he had awesome teachers both years). He happily confided to me much later that the first year he overcame the tedium of our state’s four straight days of testing by “making patterns”! Lol!

  2. Likewise, I played some spirited games of pickup basketball with my 7th graders in the afternoons of state testing days this year. It was some of the most rewarding time I spent with some of my students. For a few of them, I saw a side of them that I rarely got to see in the classroom. It’s a shame that it took me this long to see that side of them.

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I used to be a journalist. Now I just quote students.

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