Our Children: Miraculous Works in Progress
February 1, 2019
As we turn the calendar page to February, I know by looking ahead that the standardized testing season is nearly upon us. As I begin to think about all of the ways in which we measure our students, each test, each assignment or measure, provides a small contributing piece of information towards the makeup of an individual student’s progress.
Despite changes to the state assessment again, I enter this season with positivity and a sense of eagerness regarding the measures. I yearn for growth for each student and when I looked at student achievement through this lens… it becomes more personal and less, well, standardized.
The data gleaned from these measures offers us the opportunity to see, feel, and experience what school is like for that particular student in each of our schools. Every adult should take note of this… all too often we look at the compilation of the “all student scores” as a way to measure the success of a class, a teacher, a building leader, or a district. I would argue that the real importance is what happens in the classroom, with that student, on a daily basis.
If students are prepared correctly and authentically engaged in the process of their education, then any measure placed before them should be no problem. They should be able to show proficiency… and more importantly, growth.
Harvard’s Todd Rose eloquently argues for an end to the notion of “average.” In several studies, despite being well informed of the average, not one single participant was actually “average.” It’s compelling research and worth a look if you aren’t familiar with his research. As we apply this to our students… we should know that their uniqueness disqualifies them from being average, or below average, or above average. As this thought soaks in, especially for us as educators and parents, it should give us pause before we might compare our children to everyone else’s children using the notion of what’s typical, or average. When did our child take their first step, say their first word, learn to read? How did they fair on the exam (compared to)?
I think much of this comparing and arbitrary measuring is for the adults and very little of this is for our children… nor does it really do them any good. Case in point is one of my own children, fostered and then adopted into my family. He learned to read in Grade 3 and school is hard for him. Nowhere in these measures does it take into account his trauma, his difficult past, his undying compassion and care for others, his wit, athleticism, and his defense of the weak, or any other markers I’d like to measure him with as his parent. I would argue, although his academics are not on “standardized” grade level, my son is much more than “average.”
He is a miracle… and a work in progress… like all children.
Isn’t that what we want our schools to embrace? A place where our children are known, supported, embraced, and encouraged to safely grow and learn. As we begin to collect information that helps inform us about the students we serve, let this be a reminder that not one single student in Forest Ridge School District 142 will ever be considered simply “average”… they are so much more!