Monday, May 14, 2007

Lowering the bar?

Last Friday, our 8th-grade students to their penultimate field trip to the Florida Holocaust Museum in Clearwater.

It was a great trip with much learning on the part of students and teachers alike. Not everyone experienced the same levels of engagement. They are, I must remember, 8th graders.

One student in my group said she wished we had been able to roam and read rather than listen to our docent (I must admit that I took some teacher liberty and lagged behind to read placards we had missed). I noted that this student had perhaps decided early to reject the idea that this woman had something to share and had tuned out early.

Then, and this is the point, she turned to me and said very earnestly, "I know what she said, Mr. Chase. If you give me a quiz, I could get a 70."

A 70?

Now, when I was in school a 70 was cause for concern - mostly concern over my parents' reaction. And yet, this student saw what we will call "minimum proficiency" as the level at which she would prove she had learned all she could.

You see where I'm going with this?

Her remark took me out of the moment for a bit.

In Florida a level 3 out of a possible 5 is considered proficient on the math, reading and science portions of our standardized tests, the FCAT. Parents, students, teachers are all working very hard to have as many students as possible at that level 3.

Friday was the first evidence that "minimum proficiency" wasn't just the standardized standard.

Do we worry now?

More later.

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