Monday, September 06, 2010

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

I remember being a kid, and making some decisions that got me in trouble, and I wound up thinking that whatever it was that I had done seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm sure you have some of those stories of your own that you could share.

I will share this story, as long as no one will use it against me! You promise? You can't read on unless you promise!

When I was in the third grade, I made my first bad grade. Well, let me explain that. It was back in the day when we earned "E", "S", and "U". Meaning, Excellent, Satisfactory, and Unsatisfactory. I had earned a "U" on an assignment, and I was supposed to take it home and have my parents sign it and bring it back the next day. Yeah, you see where this is headed.

So, I took it home and fretted all night. I didn't want to show my parents. I can still recall what I did that night, as odd as that sounds. I didn't want to show them for two reasons. The first one was obvious, I didn't want to be punished. I lived in a world where I was held accountable for stuff, and knew there would be consequences. The other one, which I couldn't really vocalize to my parents, was that I didn't want to let them down. Up until then, I had made good grades, and I didn't want to let them down by making poor ones. I really cared (and still do to this day) what they thought about me.

I will never forget my Dad sitting down with me and talking with me the following night after my teacher had called my Dad AT WORK. My Dad and I had what I now call "Come to Jesus Chats" in which I learned what my Dad expected out of me. I also remember losing all TV privileges for a period of time.

Looking back, living without TV seemed like the end of the world, but it wasn't.

Losing my Dad's trust, broke me. I had to earn it back, which took time. It took a lot of time.

Over the years, I made other mistakes. (If you think you're getting more dirt, you're nuts!) There is a point to all of this, believe it or not...

At the time, signing my Dad's name to that paper I thought I was making a good choice AT THE TIME. Okay, well, I knew it wasn't right, but I thought it would be better than being in trouble or letting my folks down. As a third grader, it made sense.

I was wrong.

I wonder how often we do things as adults that aren't much different.

Throughout this week, I have pondered the whole No Child Left Behind (N.C.L.B.) Law. Yes, that's quite leap. I went from a third grade forged signature story to NCLB. I took a little time each night this week and actually read through the MANY pages of NCLB.

For those of you not familiar with NCLB, I will give the Reader's Digest Version of the Law. (If you wish, you can read pages upon pages on the DESE, MO website like I did!) Basically, our goal is to get each and every child reading, writing, and doing math on their Grade Level by 2014. They will assess that on statewide assessments given in grades 3-8 in each state. Any schools not performing up to standard will have changes made to them.

I read through the pages, and it ALL sounds GREAT in theory. It really does. None of us WANT a child to do poorly academically. None of us want to look like idiots compared to other nations. See, it sounds GREAT. Let's get all students up to grade level in all academic areas!

My reality (and my personal opinion) is that it's not that great. I WANT all my children to do well on the tests, but honestly I want them to become life-long learners. I don't want them to have to read on "grade" level, I want them to learn how to learn and teach them the skills needed for reality, this side of Heaven.

As I read through the Law, I kept thinking that in an ideal world, it would be a reachable goal. However, I don't live in an ideal world. I live in a fallen world where students are living with imperfect people. I am also living in a world where the test isn't given on an even playing field. I have some students with Learning Disabilities that have DIFFICULTY learning, and read below grade level because of that.

I'm not really sure how I am going to get these kids where they need to be, but I am definitely determined to be the hardest worker in our building to raise these test scores. This week I have poured over test scores, and I am working my tail off to raise my student's scores. By 2014, I need to have all students scoring in the "Advanced" or "Proficient" range. I'm not so sure it's a reachable goal, but I want to be able to say I gave 110% to help them reach that goal.

So, I am left with one thought.

In 2014 when reality sets in, and not ALL students are working on grade level, what will happen? Will the people who wrote the law say "Welll, it seemed like a good idea at the time..."

I wonder...


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