I suppose this might be a yearly post, as I blogged about this before, but here we are again, feeling blah about today's staff meeting. We didn't make AYP.
We teach a very transient population, our kids face numerous road blocks in their personal lives that obviously seep and flood into their days at school, many of our students arrive with zero English skills, parents are often absent in the evenings, and the list goes on. But listen to me. I am not making excuses for us. I am trying to shed some light on the complexities of our school. "We didn't make AYP" does not fully explain what we ARE doing. And that's why it bugs me.
Some of you are very familiar with how kids are counted under NCLB, but some of you are not. Let me give you an example: a low-income, Hispanic student with a disability takes ONE test. This test score is counted FIVE times. Five times because this student is 1 - low-income, 2 - Hispanic, 3 - LEP (limited English proficiency), 4 - special education and 5 - she is part of the overall population. Under each category (they call them subgroups) her test score is listed. So let's get more specific... this wonderful student walked in our doors 2 months before she had to take the SOLs. She takes the test and she misses it by one percentage point. She fails. Her failing score is counted 5 seperate times. Let's cut her a break and take away her disability. She's counted 4 times.
You can certainly see how a handful of kids, and it's truly a handful, can make the difference between balloon dropping celebrations and downtrodden sad staff meetings.
Our administration does a great job at reminding us that we do excellent work and to keep our heads up and to push forward and to yadda yadda... whatever, it still blows.
I'm all for accountability. I'm all for striving to help every child succeed. I'm all for every child to be counted. But why 5 times?
By 2014, 5 years away, each and every child must pass. Every. Single. One. We are working our tails off and can't get all 29 benchmarks (this year was 26) when the benchmark is 81% passing. How the hell are we going to get 100% passing???
I think of some of my favorite friends over the past few years... and I'm not thinking of the ones that will always be fine test takers. I'm thinking of the boy who went home everyday and told his mom that "kindergarten is just so hard." He's in his 2nd year and we are seeing progress, but not SOL-passing progress. I'm thinking of a boy that was abused emotionally and physically, never potty trained, and has huge emotional disabilities. Sitting in his chair for more than 30 seconds was a daily challenge, let alone learning his ABCs. I'm thinking of a girl who just didn't get it. She seemed to have zero ability to retain information. We worked daily with her and she's doing it all over again with another K teacher. They will all be counted multiple times.
Again, this isn't excuses, but come on people, we are not magicians. OF COURSE I believe that every child can learn. OF COURSE I believe that every child should not be "left behind." But when you give us limited time and limited resources, and you pack our classrooms full, and you don't demand the same out of parents that you demand out of me, well listen donkey, the truth of the matter is that there is no way you're going to get your 100%. Put that in your pipe.