I’m trying to get my second book published and figure out where I go from El Milagro. So I am going to resurrect my blog and lose myself in thought again. Maybe Mondays. I don’t know.
Here’s what I do know…
We got our test results back and they were very strong… very satisfying- at least from the standpoint of trying to engender higher test results. We had to give up a lot to get our 35-point growth on the Academic Performance Index (API). We had to give up science and social studies, for instance. We also had to give up the arts and music– not that we were ever real strong in those areas before. We had to give up creative writing and critical thinking and dancing on the blacktop and “the Mission Project” and quality physical fitness time (though we implemented a new standard for nutrition) and problem solving and the science fair. Our kids did not weigh in on either the ecological crisis in the gulf or Arizona’s immigration policy. In fact, they didn’t apply their learning to very many authentic tasks at all.
But we got to 835 on the API and there is satisfaction in improving our teaching and learning– if in fact we improved our teaching and learning beyond what is required to prepare children to take the California Standards Test.
This year we are striving to improve the API from 835 to 860. But this time…we are bringing the rest of the state’s curriculum back and organizing around multi-age classrooms. We are also emphasizing the importance of the 21st Century Skills… since we think it is pretty important that our children can actually compete in a future when grade school accountability movements may very well have run their course.
We will take the 35-point increase on the API because it is better to leverage growth than to have to explain why our students aren’t keeping up with the test prep academies. We will be all about growing their basic literacy skills. But we can’t be blinded for a moment by the bright flash of the API or the illusion that it is enough just to get higher test scores.