F. Scott Fitzgerald said,

"There are no second acts in American lives."

Most people think he was crazy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Add My Value, Bee-otch!

With all the talk (mostly negative, if it's an educator doing the speaking) regarding "Value-Added Measures," I want to ask how to add my value to the current data.

(Last I checked, kids were not data. If I wanted to deal specifically with data, I'd be one of the following: an engineer, a research scientist, a stockbroker, a mathematician. I, however, majored in English. More about that wise choice later.)

Nearly every year, I bring a kid over to "The Dark Side." That means I turn a kid from someone who never voluntarily picked up a book IN THEIR LIFE to someone who can't stop reading. Where are the points added for that?

Last year I had a student who was new to our school, coming from another school in the system. This is rare in 8th grade, and I wanted to know more. When I read his journal, I found out. He had been at a school where he had been ridiculed and made to feel "stupid." His parents agreed to move him to our school after he had attempted suicide. In his journal he wrote that he felt safe in my room--I would kid him, but it was fun. I made him feel "cool." How many points do I get for that, government?

Today, I talked to a student who had worked hard and done all my extra credit last quarter. This kid has struggled with reading all his academic career and never made above a "D." I made him angry on more than one occasion by sitting next to him as he worked. I forced him to pay attention to the text. I was on the very top of his hate list, and he got a "B." When his father received the report card yesterday, they both cried. Do I get extra credit?

Statistics stink. As somebody's granny says: figures don't lie, but liars can figure. And what I do can't be shown on a spreadsheet or a bar graph. But there you have it: I have no value.

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