Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 02 2008

SSTs and Mid-year Reading Growth

After much sweat, blood, and tears on my part, we were finally successful in having the SST for M, one of my students who can’t read (the other one who can’t read has leukemia and is never at school.) As you may recall, I submitted the paperwork for M’s SST in October. We had the meeting in February because of a series of unfortunate bureaucratic breakdowns. I went to the meeting prepared with weeks’ worth of spelling tests, math data, and DRA data showing that since August, M has made literally no progress. The only standard in math that M passed is telling time. The rest of them he completely bombed. When he takes spelling tests, they are incomprehensible. His DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) level did not change at all. He started on a early Kindergarten level, and to this day he remains at that same early Kindergarten level. Did I mention that this child is 9 years old? He’s been in school in the United States for 4 years. He should have picked up something by now.

So, in the SST meeting we sit and I explain all of my concerns and all of the interventions that I have tried. Despite sitting him in front next to a kid who can translate to him, changing assessments for him, and working with him individually several times a week, his situation has not improved. My advisors are convinced there is some kind of processing issue going on there. My principal, the ELD coach, and myself are going back and forth with the parents about everything that I have noticed in the classroom. First, the parents were concerned that M just doesn’t try. No, I tell them, he tries very hard, even when he is struggling greatly. When they heard that, they really didn’t seem to understand why his lack of progress was a problem. It seemed to me that as long as their son was trying, it didn’t matter if he was actually learning anything. I think they don’t comprehend that being illiterate at age 9 is not a common problem, and certainly not something we should accept. They assert that he is able to do all of his math homework by himself. Obviously, this isn’t true because he can’t do anything in the classroom by himself. Then, my principal asks if he had been in after-school intervention. I say that he was invited to the first session, but he only went to like 2 classes and then stopped coming. We didn’t invite him back to the second session because his attendance was poor (since there’s a waiting list for intervention, we can’t have kids just not showing up). This was translated to the parents, and then they asserted that they never remembered signing any forms about such an after-school program. I say that this was way before Christmas break. After a little prodding in Spanish by my principal, the father finally admits that yes, he did sign something. The mother then asserted that she asked in the office when the intervention was and they told her that it wasn’t happening. Well, myself, the principal, and the ELD coach finally realize that these parents are just being really irresponsible about this. I say that I would remind M that he had intervention, and he’d say, “I don’t go.” Since his ability to communicate is so limited, I just had to accept it. I couldn’t force him to go if his mom was already there to pick him up. So, upon hearing this, my principal gives the parents a very long lecture in Spanish about how M is a kid and he can’t be responsible for himself. They are the parents, they are the adults, and they are the ones who have to make sure that M goes where he’s supposed to go when he’s supposed to go there. It was quite remarkable, really.

I am still sure that M has some kind of processing issue. But, since he didn’t bother to attend intervention before, for whatever stupid reason we can’t test him right now. He has to attend a full series of intervention classes and show no progress before we can test him. So, he starts intervention on Monday. I am to remind him to go (just like I was already doing.) His parents are to make sure he actually does go. And I am to track his progress and we will reconvene in April to see what happened. The ELD coach is convinced that he qualifies for testing. Hopefully, this means that M won’t have to sit in a classroom being unsuccessful any longer. I will keep my fingers crossed for him.

On a much more positive note, I finally finished giving the DRA to all of my students and inputting the data into my tracker. On average, my class has grown 1.04 years in reading. Some of my students have grown individually a year and a half or more. It’s pretty incredible to see those kind of results. At this rate, they will more than reach their reading goals by the end of the year.

One Response

  1. Hey Chris,

    Not sure it’ll help, but it’s somewhat relevant:


Post a comment

About this Blog

"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost." -J. R. R. Tolkien

Bay Area
Elementary School
Elementary Education

Subscribe to this blog (feed)