This past week at school was not a good one. I came close to walking out in despair on Thursday. My students were taking a high stakes test (on computer). As teachers we've been told that 60% of our students must meet their computer-set growth targets, or we will be placed on a "professional growth plan." Only 59% of my students achieved their targets. I have worked VERY hard this year to teach them the skills they are supposed to learn. Some of the 59% not only achieved their goals, but far exceeded them --- 27, 25, 22, 18, 15, 10 points above their targets. 80% of my students achieved growth --- just not the right amount of growth. Of the students who didn't make their targets: One student's parents split up the day before the test. Another student hasn't done any work all year despite all my interventions. Three students rushed through the 60 minute test in under 20 minutes and refused to re-take it. And of course, I am to blame for their failures to reach their targets. This is what is wrong with high stakes testing. The accountability is ENTIRELY on the teacher. There is no accountability for students or parents.
With that off my chest, there are four more very long weeks ahead of us. This week promises to be a very hot one so we will be very uncomfortable in our sun-filled rooms. Trying to keep 12 and 13 year-olds focused when it's hot will be that much more difficult. I am trying to be proactive. I have several fun (hopefully!) hands-on activities planned involving building ramps, racing Matchbox cars, colliding marbles, and lifting objects with helium filled balloons. I have some videos planned that tie quite nicely with our science curriculum. We're reading novels that students have chosen themselves, and they will be creating some skits, games, and other physical presentations around their novels. In short, I am trying to be accountable to the curriculum when most of my students have decided school is over with. The last few weeks are always difficult, but we've had a very early spring and now some too-early summery weather. They are done. I'm just about done too!