May 18, 2013

The Big Reveal


Yippee! The school year is officially over!

This year has been challenging in ways I couldn't even imagine, and I feel super relieved to say that it's done because it means I survived. And trust me... there were days I didn't think it would be possible.


Yesterday was the day our 8th graders came back to pick up their LEAP scores and final grades. With this information, we were also able to tell them if they qualified to participate in our first ever graduation ceremony this coming Tuesday. There were a lot of tears, mostly from those who passed the LEAP. It's seriously that stressful for them.

I don't have raw scores for my kids yet, but I do have overall standings. In our state, the expectation is that students score a Basic to pass (which, ironically, amounts to a failing grade on our grading scale but whatever). The scale for mainstream kids (my lowest SPED kids take another version) is as follows:

Advanced
Mastery
Basic
Approaching Basic
Unsatisfactory

All but three students in my magnet class (I've mentioned before that magnet classes at my school aren't really magnet classes, right?) scored Basic on last year's test. This year, though, I can't say the same. Some of them got complacent (as "magnet" students sometimes do) and they actually scored lower this year. There are two magnet classes in 8th grade, and my class was the lower half of those kids. What this means is that many of my kids who scored Basic last year, did so by the skin of their teeth. I didn't expect many of them to move up to Mastery, but I didn't expect so many to drop. Obviously, this is disappointing.

BUT

My the students in my inclusion class made huge progress. Almost every student who scored an Unsatisfactory last year (the vast majority of the class) progressed to Approaching Basic this year. I have one student who even umped from a low Unsatisfactory to Basic. This group made me proud!

The funny thing, though, as that none of the Approaching Basic students count for the school. There is a new system in place for the state that gives ZERO credit for student growth unless they score at least a Basic. Obviously, for our students, this is a huge disadvantage.

I did some calculations yesterday and found that I have exactly the same number of dropped scores as increased scores. I have to wait for the raw scores to assess those who stayed in the same bracket. The other ELA teachers I spoke to had similar results.

For now, I'm holding on to the words of my students after the test when they told me that it was soooo easy. I'm holding on to the confirmation from nearly all of them that there were no surprises on the test, that it was exactly like what we did in class.

Next year, with our school shifting to Common Core, I think we will better be able to focus on closing the gap in their reading levels. As I've said all year, it doesn't matter if they know how to find the author's purpose if they can't even understand the text.

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