danger aheadPosted: February 9, 2014
This week, I am tasked with sending letters to the parents of 18 of my 21 kindergarteners to inform them that their children are having difficulty with reading. The dreaded “in danger of retention” letters.
Any child who has not performed according to the lofty goals of the mClass (Amplify) testing system is considered to be “demonstrating difficulty with reading development, not reading at grade level and/or considered for grade retention,” and thereby, must be informed of their inadequacies.
Apparently, no one considered the confusion and trauma that the receipt of a letter like this will cause our families. No one gave teachers a chance to advocate for our kids and defend their progress.
The goal, upon which these letters are based, is reading at a level C at the January benchmark.
Only two years ago, levels B or C were goals for the END of kindergarten, but, of course, that was most certainly not “rigorous” enough. The bar was raised in spite of the fact that children do not all develop reading skills according to a schedule.
No one considered that most of the kids in my class do not speak English at home. Some of them don’t have a good grasp of their home language OR English. Many of them came to me not knowing the names of any letters. They did not know the difference between letters and numbers and chicken scratches. They did not know that letters represent sounds. They did not know the difference between words and letters. Spaces between letters and words were extremely confusing.
No one has considered that most of the kids in my class started the year reading at Level AA OR pre-AA. No one considered that all progress is to be celebrated.
No one considered how demoralized 5 and 6 year old students will be to hear that they are not making “adequate progress,” especially because each day, I tell them those same children that they are magnificent, brilliant, dedicated learners who are destined for great things.
Will they ever believe their teacher again?
I have worked hard to help parents to work with their children each night – in ANY language. We have become partners, each trusting the other to do their part to help the kids succeed. I have assured them that their children are magnificent, brilliant, dedicated learners who are destined for great things.
Will they ever believe ANY teacher again?
What will happen if the students are not reading at Level D in June? Will we retain? Hardly likely. We most certainly cannot open up new kinder classes when we are already overcrowded and our new kinders are likely to come in with similar skills to our current kids.
And the dreaded third grade gateway is looming.
As Whoopi once said to Demi…
If we threaten our kinders when they are unable to perform developmentally inappropriate tasks, we are all in danger.