Saturday, April 01, 2006

It's been awhile.

Hmmm. Where to start?

Well, it's been quite a month. Our kids took the big, bad standardized test for 3 days in March. It was just as painful for me to administer as it was for them to take. As in previous years, there were behavior problems, tears, children who came late/hungry/without sharp pencils. The usual. But overall, my kids handled it well. I was well prepared this year, and I took the time to prepare the kids, too. No surprises. I stayed late the day before the test, sharpening brand new pencils that had messages like “You can do it!” and “Go for it!” printed on them. I capped them with brand new erasers. I took two manila folders and stapled them together to make an “office” that they could stand up on their desk, preventing other children from seeing their papers (they LOVED that!). I separated their desks (recommended by the Teacher’s Test Preparation Booklet).

I’m not a fan of standardized tests, but I’m not going to get into a full-blown discussion of it here and now. However, there was one thing about this year's test that really bothered me. I have two boys in my class who are functioning on just about the same level. Child A has repeated kindergarten and is still not making any progress in reading. His mother doesn’t work much with him at home (by her own admission) because she gets frustrated when he doesn’t want to practice reading. Child B came to me in September only able to identify the letters in his own name. Reading doesn’t come easy for him, but he tries hard. His mother does everything she can to help him at home.

During the Reading and Language Arts section of the test, the class had 8 minutes to read a short story and answer 4 comprehension questions about it. I noticed that Child B tried painstakingly to sound out every word in the story… and he was doing well, except that it probably took him the whole 8 minutes just to get through the first two sentences, and he didn’t get to the comprehension questions at all. Child A, on the other hand, figured out that he didn’t really have to read the story or the questions. He could just fill in random answer circles, put his head down, and take a 7 minute nap.

What upsets me is that Child A guessed the answers to several of the comprehension questions correctly, without even trying. Child B got all of those questions wrong, because he left them blank. It just seems so unfair.

Okay. Enough about standardized tests.

After testing was over, I had to get my grades together for report cards and parent conferences. They went extremely well... and all but one parent showed up. It kinda pissed me off that she didn't come. She requested a special time because of work, and the 6th grade teacher and I changed our schedules a bit to accomodate her. And then she didn't come. Nor did she call, or follow up with a note. Grrrr...

The rest of March was spent doing work for grad school. I'm still not quite sure what possessed me to take two classes this semester, but I'm too far in to get out of it now. I had two MAJOR research papers due in the same week. One I wrote by myself, but the other was a paired project, which meant hours spent at the library with my research partner. It's a good thing we get along. Last week, I had to present both papers (one was an informal presentation, the other was a PowerPoint extravaganza).

And now it's April already. Where does the time go? Before I know it, it'll be summer. Yikes.

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