Monday, June 06, 2005

"Perfect" Timing, or, Yes, Please Do Come Rain On My Parade

"Perfect" Timing
Originally uploaded by susiejulie.
Right as I got out of the subway station at my stop, I felt a few drops of drizzle. The day had been muggy and hot, and now the sky was heavy and gray.

I stopped at the bagel shop to get a sesame with butter, one of my newest loves. As I exited the door, paper bag clutched in hand, figuring I'd have a nice, buttery snack when I got home, the rain started to come down. As I crossed Austin, the drops really got
big. Like, you could clearly see each and every fat drop come straight down from the sky.

Within three minutes (of my eight-minute walk), I was drenched. Completely soaked. My shoes squished right away. My sleeveless tunic-like tank top at first stayed dry under my bag strap, but then that was soaked too. My clingy yet swingy black skirt was utterly waterlogged. Definitely more clingy and less swingy. My undergarments were also drenched. Naturally, the paper bag quickly fell apart, crashing my special treat onto the unforgiving pavement.

I had left my bag in the teacher center during the day, and it was locked after school. I had worn no coat, since it was so warm and sticky. Thus I had no protection whatsoever from this random storm.

This was the perfect ending to my day, because in a short "PD" (professional development) we finally received the test scores for our students. Now remember, our school overall--with the three grades together--increased ELA scores by 11%.

The verdict on my students?

Two level 3 students went up to level 4. My two students who'd been 4s went down to 3s. Six level 2s went up to level 3. Two level 1s went up to 2s. (4=exceeding standards; 3=meeting standards; 2=approaching standards; 1=far below standards. Remember, it's all about the standards nowadays, right?)

A total of fourteen students raised their scores.

TWENTY students' scores went DOWN.

29 of my students met or exceeded the standards (eg, 3 and 4). I only have 84 students. That is 35%. From last year's (fifth grade) scores, 41% met or exceeded standards.

Just over one-third of my students PASSED THE FUCKING TEST.

A full one-QUARTER of them DECREASED their scores!

I was at least a little bit devastated. I was disappointed in them--especially the smart kids who went from 3s to 2s. I was bummed for the two brilliant girls who lost their 4s. I was quite thrilled for the two boys who went from 1s to 2s.

Mostly, I was utterly dismayed with myself. Yes, I cried. Only a little bit, out of disappointment in myself. I was rather upset at my own perceived failure.

Now, two or three kids had fluke 3s and this year went to their more natural 2s, so that's not a big deal. And I know that I can't hold myself to this standard, that IN THEORY their scores don't reflect anything on my part. After all, I can only do so much as a teacher; they're the ones with the fucking number 2 pencil in hand.

But you know what? I really wanted them to succeed. I really wanted them to learn something this year and to be better students and better people. And sure, I wanted the validation to know that I actually helped my kids.

And with this result, I really don't know. This kind of shook me to my foundations. See, I do suck and I don't know what I'm doing. Fire my ass now before I drag down any more unsuspecting twelve-year-olds.

Somewhere I could probably find something positive or some nice spin on all this, some way to rationalize away my feeling, but I don't want to look.


Anonymouph said...

Here's something positive for you: the wet look is actually really good on you. I think that's a great pic.

Really, keep your chin up about the test scores, babe. Mine sucked for the first 3 semesters I taught too. What's more, I don't think I was really responsible for the AWESOME scores my kids got this year! They are just amazing kids.

As you know, these tests mean nothing, especially when individual teachers, administrators, and entire school boards do things to fudge the numbers. Argh. Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows that you are an INCREDIBLE teacher. After reading many of your posts, I found myself thinking, "Why wasn't I that good in my first year? Heck, why aren't I that good now?" We are people, MM, not miracle workers. What's important is that you've never lowered your expectations for your students or yourself. I greatly admire you, and it hurts me to think you're so disappointed in yourself. As much as I'm guilty of it too, don't let a number define you. Much love, chica.

Jules the Crazy said...

Aw, thank you so much for your reassuring and encouraging words.

I'm trying to pep myself back up, that numbers are just numbers, etc etc, but the admin keep congratulating us on our increases...(did i mention that our school is number 1 because we went down the least?)

And I DO think you are responsible for your amazing kids--you help them want to learn and do well!

Anyway, thank you, again. You rock, we rock, we all rock!