Sunday, May 02, 2010

Apple, Cherry, or Student

One of the teacher blogs I read posted recently about a student who was leaving, and it hit home.

My school has a lot of transiency. Only 75% of the kids who were here at the beginning of the year are still here.

It's rough. We're considered a failing school, and we're giving the kids so much this year. The corporation has spent tons of Title I money and stimulus funding to get these kids extra help. We have a student-teacher ratio of something like 8:1 in a high-poverty school. We have an RTI specialist, a reading coach, a math coach, and a specialist to come in and help us with a restructuring process, including a curriculum and assessment calendar. We have a certified teacher or a full-time aide as an assistant in each classroom. We have added an hour of instructional time each day and an extra summer session for struggling students.

And not only have we lost 25% of the kids already, but I have 4 or 5 kids telling me they're moving over the summer. Last year almost half of our student population changed from August 2008 to August 2009.

I know that could change, but it's still somewhat disheartening. I hate seeing these kids leave. I miss them, of course- miss seeing how they're doing, miss being able to teach them, miss talking to them each day- but there's more.

I am sad that they won't be at our school anymore, because some of the kids leaving are the students who can really benefit from the extra attention and extra learning opportunities we have here. One of my students who started out reading almost two grade levels behind has made a ton of growth this year, but will be moving to a new school next year where I doubt she'll be able to get the same amount of individual and small-group time that she needs to catch up. Another student acts out, but as you get to know him you realize that there's something deeper. When asked what he did over Spring Break, he looked away and wouldn't respond. He rarely came to school clean and well-taken-care-of. I hope that a teacher with a bigger class and less resources is able to see the need behind his misbehavior.

It's also frustrating to me because I see our efforts going out the door. We have poured so much into these kids. I'm happy to help the kids, and I would do it even if I knew they'd be moving soon, but we are a school with a reputation of "failing." Our test scores are low. AYP has not been met. And there are kids that we have worked, and worked, and worked with, and they have grown incredibly.

And they're gone. While we took the test this year, many of those students weren't here anymore. Their test scores weren't here to show how much we have taught them. I'm happy they have learned, regardless, but it would be nice to see our school get credit in the public eye for the amazing strides we have made.

I'll post more about this later, but it's so disheartening to see the teachers at my school labeled as "bad" when the turnover of students is so consistent and so high.

If a sports team had to lose half of their team each year and put in players who may or may not be ready for pro level and hadn't been chosen by the team, they would never be expected to win.

But I'm not in sports. And as frustrating as transiency can be, I'm glad for the education we have given the kids in our class this year. Especially the 5 kids who have moved (out of 16 in our class). I hope they are doing okay.

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