Near the end of each grading period we give a test, which is correlated to the state standards, to see how our kids are doing. The state standards are broken down by trimester as well, so it’s pretty specific which content is supposed to be covered and when.
I finished the Language Arts portion of the test today. We need to have the completed scantrons bubbled in and turned in by Dec. 2nd. At least they don’t expect kindergarten kids to be able to bubble in an answer sheet yet….. Of course the flip side of that is that WE have to bubble in their answers, and with 31 kids, that’s a bunch of bubbles. Since I don’t want to wait until mid Dec. for the results, I quickly graded them and entered their scores into an Excel spreadsheet. For Language Arts, they evaluated on three state standards this time, letter recognition, initial sound/letter identification, and high frequency words, four questions on each standard. Twenty-two of my kids missed two or fewer questions and would be considered as being “Low Risk”. That’s the good news. ONE student could be considered as “Some Risk” with seven correct, and the remaining eight students would be considered “High Risk” getting five or fewer questions correct.
There is such a huge disparity between the two groups. And the sad thing is that the school’s intervention focus isn’t on the lower eight, it’s on the “Some Risk” group, where the interventions actually seem to be working. But without significant interventions with those lower eight students, the disparity will only grow. Then I always feel badly for the higher kids, they get neglected. No Child Left Behind, has almost mandated that we focus on those “middle” kids and try to bring them up, because they should be the easiest ones to lift. The middle gets the most help, not the lowest, neediest. All of the school’s emphasis is on these middle kids, yet somehow, at some point, we as teachers are going to be held accountable for those lower kids.
Which brings me to another point, if the United States of America is to remain competitive in a global market, if we have to put our focus someplace, we need to be focusing on the brightest and the best of our kids, not the middle. I’ve seen data that says there are more genius level IQ’s in China, than we have PEOPLE in the U.S. We had better be doing a good job with the talent we have, not ignoring them while we focus on the middle. We are pursuing a path of mediocrity.