Thursday, May 11, 2017


So we lived through it. Another year of standardized testing is in the books. We sat third, fourth and fifth grade kids down in front of Chromebooks each morning for two weeks and asked them to show us what they had learned. No pressure. Not for them, anyway. For those of us standing just outside the door, looking in, there's plenty of pressure. What if all those months of preparation don't turn into increased scores? What will happen to these kids?
Well, most of them will be just fine, thank you for asking. They will continue their path toward their eventual scholastic potential pretty much unfettered by their "personal record." The school at which they took these tests? Maybe not. The ugly not-quite-a-secret is that doing poorly on one or more of these standardized tests will not impact the kid who is taking those standardized tests. Until the school at which they are taking those standardized tests gets shut down because the test scores on those standardized tests did not rise to some particular standard.
Growth. That's what everyone wants to see. Did we do better than we did the year before? Of course we did. Why wouldn't we?
This is where my mind wandered into an alternative reality in which standardized tests are being given to kids in war zones. What sort of expectations are put on students in Syria? Even if there were concentrated months of review beforehand, what sort of success would we expect from kids in Nigeria? How about Yemen? I ask this not just for the ironic counterpoint but because we have more than a dozen students at our school this year who have recently emigrated here from Yemen. Add to this the number of Latino students whose families are currently living with the obscure threat of deportation and suddenly I find myself wondering what we must have been thinking. What do we expect our results to be?
Growth. We want to show growth. Getting our kids in the door and in their seats is a project most every day. Teaching them to read a second language because that's the language of the test is the next one. The ability to express complex thoughts in that new language is the next step and if we're not quite ready, that's too bad because this testing window doesn't wait for anyone. We need to fit those kids into it and hopefully we come out with growth.
Sometimes maintaining the status quo feels like growth.
Running to stand still.

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