Saturday, April 30, 2011

Early Exit

We got ACCESS scores yesterday. For those of you who don't speak in terms of Bilingual Education, that means I have the numbers that decide the fate of my students for next year. The criteria determines whether or not my students will continue in the bilingual program in middle school or if they are ready to take on mainstream classes full time. My scores this year were pretty standard. Out of 18 students I am exiting three. The other 15 will stay in the bilingual programs for at least another year. Of those 15, only 6 of them were new to the United States (and therefor the English language) within the past three years. The rest have been around for their entire academic careers.

With statistics like that, it is hard not to measure your worth as an educator by the puny like number "3." I can easily rationalize the number by explaining that students whose are already behind in reading will almost always be playing the catch-up game. Also, balancing two languages, while ultimately being an asset, is a struggle during the first several years of any bilingual program (even the successful ones). Somehow, those truths were not holding much comfort yesterday.

The other silly thing is that I don't even believe in early exit. This is evidenced by the fact that I am a FIFTH grade bilingual teacher in a world where, if you look at the available jobs from other districts (just because you're curious, not discontent) you'd be hard pressed to find anything above Grade 2.

I think the point comes from the fact that teaching has become so score-driven that the pressure can seep into even the most logical mind. Apparently even mine is susceptible to defining itself by other peoples' standards. I am usually the first person to shrug off the stress of state standardized testing while everyone else is cramming and scaring the crap out of their students. I have always managed to keep myself cool with the knowledge that my students love and respect me and what we're working toward and that they will do the best that they can. I can expect or ask for nothing more.

What I really need to keep in mind is that a) THREE students were able to close the gap during the year that they spent learning from me and b) there is absolutely nothing wrong or sub par with students who continue on in a program that I fundamentally believe in!

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