Friday, April 07, 2006

Give me ten teachers like this, and I could change a town 

If you haven't read Stuart Buck's visit with an old friend who teaches English, don't wait any longer.
Too many students who are arriving in 10th grade English not even knowing how to read, and having been �socially promoted� for their entire lives. My friend said (and I paraphrase from memory):

�I�m doing the best that I know how to do, but you know how reading tests are written: They�re full of little logical tricks to make sure that you read and understood the question. How am I going to get someone who doesn�t even know how to read to pass that kind of test? It�s just impossible for me to spend one or two semesters and get someone caught up on 9 or 10 years of schooling. And then there are always some kids that just don�t care, and no matter what I try, they just won�t do the work. So the government is going to tell me that because of a handful of students that are unreachable, therefore I�m a bad teacher? No way.�
Reading later on, you see that this teacher is willing to take extra steps for his students. But at the high school level it is too late for many of them. I'll bet that most of these kids went to middle schools. Many of the students this teacher felt couldn't read may well have been able to at one time but have had the switch turned off. Social promotion results from a push for equity that lies at the base of the middle school movement. You needed to catch these students in remediation long before they arrived in 10th grade.

(h/t: Joanne Jacobs)