Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 06 2009

Do you teachers think this is funny?

Standardized test scores are back, and again I have mixed feelings.

District-wide, we did really well again. My kids are again 3rd in the district, but this time they’re only about 0.1 points away from 2nd (out of 13 schools), so at least I’m relieved that we didn’t bomb the test worse than everyone else.

Unfortunately, what it actually means is that the whole district bombed the test, and my kids aren’t reassured by that. I still had to hand back dismally low test scores even to some of my good students. One boy fell from 75% last time to 51% this time, and gave me hell for it. “Do you teachers think this is FUNNY?! Why would you give us a test this hard? This isn’t fair at all! Why would you do this to kids? You’re hurting my self-esteem! How’s this going to look to high schools?!”

It was all I could do to explain to him that this wasn’t actually my sadistic streak giving him this test and laughing. He definitely didn’t care that he’d solidly beat the district average, and doesn’t get that high schools will never look. Many of my kids were probably thinking similarly, he just happens to be very articulate and willing to voice that opinion. And it was sort of like getting slapped in the face.
Luckily, plenty of my kids did remarkably well despite how challenging the test was. Some of my lowest students jumped up more than 10%, and a few even increased their scores by 20 percentage points. I lost WAY more of my 80% bets this time, but haven’t yet sat down to figure out what I’ll have to do. (One kid already reminded me that it means I get to rap a Lil Wayne song for the class…joy.) So there were some big successes, and it was at least fun to give scores back to those kids.

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