I was on my way to a meeting, having done every rational and irrational act required of me for the day. I swear, I thought the Principal glared at me. At first, I thought that I must have been mistaken. Now I am not sure.
What happened? A test happened, and not a good one. Monday’s math test went well, so well that I was a little surprised. I had predicted my higher students would benefit from the one-track-to-rule-them-all (see the November 8th post), while my lower students would not. Test scores appear to be bearing me out. Tuesday’s test was reading, however, and a number of students simply did not try to do well on that latest set of adaptive, computer-generated questions. Some obviously did not try at all. One student managed to fall three grades.
The language arts teacher observed that results reflected more on him, but I don’t think that’s true. A three-grade drop has little to do with instruction. The fact that this class, the same class that gave me a boost yesterday in math, did so poorly on reading reflects on both of us, the teacher who taught the material and the teacher who proctored the test. Administrators would say I should have persuaded my class to make better efforts. But I did my damnedest. I encouraged and I cajoled. In carrot and stick fashion, I also pointed out that lack of progress might lead to mandatory tutoring (which it may) and other interventions.
What happened? I don’t know. These bilingual students don’t like to read. That’s why many of them have not managed to exit into regular classes despite entering bilingual programs in early elementary school. More importantly, I suspect test-burnout has begun kicking in.
Eduhonesty: I do think I made a mistake. I assumed that the desire to avoid mandatory tutoring and to show progress would be motivation enough to get a solid effort. I should have offered large quantities of candy coupons instead. It’s scary to think that careers and student placements might end up being based on candy coupons, but I think candy coupons would genuinely have helped and, in a few cases, might have helped a lot.
My students were well-behaved, helpful and hard-working yesterday after the test. They appeared to want to make up for their lack of effort. Part of that good behavior came as a result of my reading the group the proverbial riot act, but some of it was the desire on the part of fundamentally good kids to cheer up their teacher. All I can do is sigh.