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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 26 2013

Wet floors, squishy shoes, and I’m still dying to see the data

Another week goes by.  This week’s major hurdle was having no air conditioning.  It’s 90-plus degrees outside, the windows in the class are bolted shut, covered with metal security screens, and the air conditioner doesn’t work.  Actually, it does put out cold air.  I just takes the humidity out of the air and leaks it onto the floor.

Even worse, the leaks are coming into the room from somewhere else, too.  After two days with no A/C, I’m still having to mop the floor about seven to eight times a day to keep up with the leaks.  All my shoes are soaked-through.  I don’t have much technology in my room–a laptop PC and an overhead projector–but they had to be unplugged to prevent electrocution.  The water is now up under the new linoleum tiles and squishes to the surface when I walk on them.  One of the students took a fall last week on the wet floor and turned an ankle.  Not good.

But that’s just some venting.  The maintenance guy has called downtown.  The principal has called downtown.  The union rep was planning on calling somebody.  I think downtown’s strategy is to just wait until air conditioning will no longer be an issue, once the season changes.  I have no idea if the heat will work when it comes time to use it.

Speaking of downtown, we’re still waiting to see the results of the end-of-year standardized tests from last year.  Personally, I’m dying to see the results.  I don’t know why it should take so long to release the test results.  Someone has to have seen them by now.  The politicians, the state department of education, and the school district have to had seen them.  How come they won’t make them available to the folks who people who need it to do the actual educating?

I have eight students in one class who had the exact same Title 1 remedial reading class last year.  The administration and the counselors are waiting on the data to assign them to another class.  In the meantime, I can’t risk the “mutiny” that would occur if I use the highly scripted curriculum that’s made for that class until they get the “leftovers” out of there.  In addition, the school gave the Gates reading test last spring and the counselor who was running the show hasn’t bothered to get the results from it.

Another reason I’m hoping to see the data is that I think my kids from last year really rocked the test.  I have several kids in my on-grade level classes that were in my remedial class last year.  A colleague and I gave our English students a reading diagnostic to see what their reading level is, since we don’t have the Gates test results.  The results of the diagnostic test has been kind of shocking–shockingly good!

For example, one of my 6th graders from last year came to me with a 4th grade reading level.  On this diagnostic, conservatively graded, she came out reading at an eighth grade level.  Others showed on average two years of reading growth.  The other teacher reported similar results on her diagnostics.  ‘

I’m anxiously withholding making conclusions until I actually get to see either the Gates results or the official state test scores.  I’m hopeful for good things, though!  Just imagine if we were able to take our students and help them move ahead anywhere from two to four years in one single school year.  That would be genuinely transformational!

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YOTFAO BACTAG = You only teach for America once, but always challenge the achievement gap.

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