Every year when standardized test scores are posted, I feel a ton of mixed emotions. I’m always super proud of some students – they’re the ones who worked really hard, fought the odds, and succeeded, or the ones who always did well, regardless of outside issues. There are always some that I want to call on the phone so I can shriek, “You did it, you passed!”
And then on the other hand, there are always some scores that disappoint me. There might be a student who, despite how hard he works, just can’t get past the horrible home life he’s facing. There’s always a kid who has something going on at home, whether it’s a dog that died, or a parent in jail, and just can’t focus on a three-hour standardized test. Then there are some kids, who, let’s face it, just don’t put effort into their work. These are the kids who finish a 63 question test in 15 minutes. You want so badly to go over and talk to the kid, and say, “Look, I know it’s hard. I know. But you can do it. Now erase all those answers and start over!” But of course, you can’t.
This year is no different for me; there are good scores and there are bad scores. What I’ve learned over the past nine years is that your students are going to score however they’re going to score. You can’t control what they put on that bubble sheet. Looking over test scores and lamenting over which students “should have done better” (and let’s face it, we all do that) isn’t going to get us anywhere. We have to focus instead on what we can do differently in the future.
Looking over my class scores, it’s easy to see that my strengths are ELA and writing. My weaknesses are science and social studies, and math is floating there somewhere in the middle. For me, it’s easy to understand why it came out this way. I love teaching reading and writing. I’d be happy to do that all day long. My kids and I really bonded over a few books this year, and I feel lucky that we were able to make that connection. Science and social studies, on the other hand, are two subjects that aren’t “core” subjects. Although I’m ashamed to say this, those are the subjects that get put off, subjects that we don’t always have time for. Is that a good thing? Of course not. Is it something I need to improve on? Absolutely.
I feel really good about the fact that our fifth graders will be switching classes this year. I’ll only teach ELA, writing, and social studies. I know that math is not a strength of mine, and neither is science (that one is easily my worst subject) so I’m glad I don’t have to teach those this year. While I had low scores in social studies, I feel that having to focus only on a few subjects will allow me to make sure I make time for social studies. I also plan to use interactive notebooks in social studies; I’ve read a lot about them, and I hope that adding in a bit of the students’ own creativity and thinking will help the information stick a little better.
I’ve got some other things I’m thinking about implementing, and I’m hoping that around this time next year, I’ll see some positive results!