Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Have I Made a Difference?

In my previous post, I mentioned the sheer volume of things that I have been doing in the previous couple of weeks, but there is one thing that I failed to mention, mainly the fact that I received the results of my final parishwide assessments that my students took last week. Here in St. Mary Parish, we give tests across the parish every six weeks to prepare them for the iLEAP tests in April. Everyone takes the same test on the same two days, and we can compare our individual scores to the other classes and schools across the parish.

Needless to say, my school is behind the parish average, and it showed at the beginning of the year with the first Parish Assessment. We scored sixteen points off the parish average, which was understandable, but disconcerting for someone like me who is not a reading teacher by trade. We have a consultant to help us improve our scores, and I felt like I'm in over my head. I fought with that over a long period of time this school year, even though there were some tenative steps that looked like we were bridging the gap, but assessment results seemed to be not quite showing it.

With this past assessment, however, I finally got the assessment data that I was looking for. The scores came in and my students as a whole scored at a  62% average. The rest of the parish? 70%. That's right, over the course of the school year my students have managed to cut the scores gap in half, down to eight points. As you can see in this chart I made (before all of the parish scores were in), the test scores show a remarkable jump even though the rest of the parish have flatlined.

Well look at that!

I ranted and raved about these scores to my students and my bosses, and I've really been pushing my kids that with the iLEAP tests coming up, if they continue this trend, they're going to go down in school history for doing something very special, much less the impact that this is going to have on their own lives and potential careers. It feels very strange to be appealing to the students on these terms, but it's worked so far, and here's to them actually pulling this off.

The strangest thing of all, of course, is the fact that I can see that my teaching has actually done something to help these students. I've always seen how I help students at the high end of the scale, and my honors class continues to grow by leaps and bounds as I'm used to seeing, but it's the growth in the average and even below average students that I can't believe that I'm seeing happen. I've always struggled with the fact that someone with a true talent for helping struggling reading students would be doing a far better job than I am this year, because they would have some fantasticly fun activities that would keep the kids' attention and enable them to learn, which would be in stark contrast to my endless tables that I have had the students fill out all school year long. For all I know, they could bomb the iLEAP and it all unravels, but for now I'm going to savour this. If you would have asked me in August if I thought this would happen, I have to say I wouldn't have thought so. It's good to be wrong for once.

Until next time.


Matt @ The Church of No People said...

That's awesome, Loren. But taking assessments every week to prepare for the big assessment sounds absolutely grueling! Teachers here in MO complain about the annual spring assessment. Luckily for me, I want to teach Social Studies which is not covered by the state assessments. I'm glad, but it's strange since it's SS that teaches kids what it means to be a fruitful American citizen.

schmidty said...

go check out the new dash - under the employees section of the st. mary web page. killer data - will make you made as a hornet. Log in using your achievement series log. Very enlightening.