Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 10 2008

CSTs and OCR Police

5 weeks.  23 days.  Oh, my Lord, I am actually going to survive this school year.

I really didn’t think I would make it.

The stress, long hours, ridiculousness of my school, and not having much of a life outside of work are getting to me.  But, now that I can taste the end of the school year, I know I can finish this.

The CSTs are finally over, no thanks to my principal.  She was “sick” for three days of the testing, and the ELD coach had to coordinate all of our testing AND be the principal-designee.  Awesome.  Of course, in those three days, there were several suspensions of students as well as students cheating, fighting, and generally not following the rules.  My ELD coach deserves an award for her performance.

In my classroom, though, testing was pretty uneventful.  The kids were really giving it their best.  We said our Super Test Takers poem every morning before handing out the tests, and over the course of the 2 weeks I caught several of my students copying that poem onto their own paper during class.  It was pleasing to know that something that simple made that much of a difference for them.  I was peeking over shoulders during the math portion and saw a lot of right answers (I also saw some heartbreaking silly mistakes- but whatever.  They’re in second grade.)  Overall, the testing was a positive experience for me- but we are all glad it is over.

Now, we have to jump right back on the Open Court Reading bandwagon.  On Monday, the OCR Police are coming again.  This time, though, they’re pulling out the big guns and bringing the HEAD of the OCR Police- one of the representatives for the curriculum.  They’re calling this “coaching support,” but what it really means is that they are trying to catch us not being faithful to the curriculum.  My literacy coach came in on Tuesday (while we were still giving the CST, so my room was basically empty) and harped on me to get all my OCR stuff back on the walls as quickly as possible so they could see it before Monday.  She also showed me exactly what we need to be doing with our curriculum when they come to see us.  Basically, if you follow OCR exactly the way it is written, you would spend about 4 hours a day on it.  Factor in recess and lunch times, and you’d have time for that plus maybe 45 minutes of math.  Since we’d really like to teach our students some science now, that’s not realistic.  Also, it’s pretty ridiculous to expect us to do this now, with only 5 weeks of school left.  As if somehow, in the next 5 weeks, our students will suddenly jump to the category of advanced.  Ridiculous.

I know I made significant reading gains with my students.  Those gains did not come as a result of me following the curriculum faithfully.  I also know that nobody ever noticed that I made those kind of gains because my students are still below grade level.  They only care that my students aren’t proficient on the stupid 6-week test we give at the end of every unit.  I’ve shown my DRA data to them before showing where my students started (early first grade) and where they were the last time I tested in February (early second grade.)  It doesn’t matter one bit to anybody who works for my district, though.  I still have to give the DRA again, which I’m going to start now.  But, for this week at least, I have to put on a charade that I believe that the curriculum will get my students where I want them to go.  What a huge waste of everyone’s time.

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

    Bay Area
    Elementary School
    Elementary Education

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