Today, May 12th, is exactly two months since we were last in our school buildings in my district. That feels like a big milestone. Interestingly enough, today is also the date on which my 3rd graders would have taken their first state-wide standardized test, the reading SOL.
This test would have been a big one for my school, my team. The test scores in our school (a K-3 school so only 3rd grade test scores impact such things) have not been meeting state expectations. We’ve jumped through a number of hoops all year with our district as a result (so that they could prove to the state that we are doing so). It should be noted, not one of the eight classroom teachers or two special education teachers has taught third graders at this school for a full year prior to this one. (One classroom teacher was there last year but was out on maternity leave for the last several months the of the year. Another came in near the end of the year as a long term sub in another classroom.)
I’m not sorry my kids didn’t spend hours today taking a reading test on computers. Not at all. I worked with two small groups today and we had a blast reading together and talking about Egyptian hieroglyphics and mummies. That was far more worth their time. And mine.
I am sorry we, as a team and as a school, didn’t get to prove that what we did this year was worth it. We gave our kids time to read every day. We offered them lots of books and let them choose what they wanted to read. We set up book clubs and let them talk with friends about their books. We read aloud picture books and chapter books. We had whole class conversations about the books we read.
Today I was also a part of IEP (individualized education plan) meetings for two of my students. Both of the moms in these meetings talked about the progress their child has made this year as readers. One talked about how proud her child is of the reading they are doing now. These kids, not just these two, but all of our kids, are readers and they would have knocked it out of the park on that test today.
I don’t think the test really proves much. There are so many other things I could point to that show the progress my students have made, that show they are readers that read for fun and for purposes of all sorts. But the test is what gets pointed to again and again. It’s the metric that matters to many folks. So there is a small piece of me that is sad we, the kids and adults, didn’t get the chance to prove ourselves there.
Maybe I’m just sad we aren’t together. Doing whatever we could be doing, even if it had to be a test.
Teaching like this just ain’t really cutting it.