Tag Archives: standardized testing

CORKING THE BATS: WHY THE ATLANTA SCANDAL IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE NCLB ICEBERG

images-7Cheating is such an integral part of baseball culture that it is almost endearing.

Stealing bases when nobody is watching can get you into the Hall of Fame, for sure.  But I’m talking about real cheating.  Knowingly violating the rules of the game  to gain some perceived advantage– which, in baseball’s long history, takes on many forms and variations. And some are more compelling than others. Like George Brett and his pine tar bat, for example, producing one of the modern game’s most dramatic and memorable highlights.   Or the notorious spit ball.  Or Phil Niekro slipping a fingernail file into his hat so he could scratch out a better knuckleball. Or corking the bats.

images-2But then there are the extremes. Pete Rose bet on his own team.  In 1919 the Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to intentionally blow the World Series.  And more recently, there are regular accusations and suspicions about players  juicing.

Baseball is America’s game.  And so is the cheating that goes on that makes baseball baseball.

And so it was fascinating to watch the shockwaves ripple across the nation when one of our preeminent superintendents and a fistful of teachers were all indicted for their elaborate scheme to doctor their students’ test results.

The horror.  The scandal.  The betrayal. This is public education, for God’s sake.  Not baseball!

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But for those of us who work in schools everyday, it should not be surprising at all that educators went to such unethical extremes to gain an advantage.  When you threaten people with their jobs, their livelihood, their professional careers… they become resourceful.  Welcome to the legacy of No Child Left Behind. High stakes testing is when you have everything to lose and nothing to gain.  When a system that we KNOW is bad for kids is treated as if it is worthy of our outrage when it is violated.

But the real question we ought to answer is this: What exactly is “cheating” when it comes to testing our kids?  When do we cross the line from stealing the catcher’s signs or corking the bats– to intentionally losing the World Series on a bribe?

This week, for example, I discovered the extreme degree to which many of the schools in my district are engaging in test prep with only three weeks remaining until the California Standards Test.  Test prep includes practicing sample test items and drilling in the strategies for how to select a correct answer in a multiple choice item.  The entire school throws out the rest of the curriculum and locks in on a single imperative.  All day.  Every day.  It’s legal.  Even encouraged with a wink– because it can definitely inflate results.

But it’s not good teaching.  It’s not good for our kids.  It doesn’t advance learning.  It doesn’t promote thinking or collaboration or communication or entrepreneurialism or any of the other 21st century skills that will soon be treated as the coin of the realm when the Common Core is ushered in.  In fact, devoting any more time at all to the various state assessment  packages that are now all but obsolete… seems to be the worst form of cheating.  It’s cheating our students of their time for authentic learning. Wasted days and weeks and months in pursuit of a mission that has nothing to do with our children’s future.

So ok… “test prep strategies “are not quite the same as calling for pizzas as you hunker down and change all of your students’ test booklets to reflect correct answers… but it’s still a hoax to pretend high test scores mean our kids are actually  learning.

imagesProfessional baseball is intensely competitive and the rewards are great for those few who excel in it.  So great in fact, that it creates a climate where cheating is inevitable.  But the game is pure and it will survive the scandal.

Educators, on the other hand, are typically driven by an instinct for service and advocacy.  Teaching a child is its own honest reward.  But NCLB was never  designed to promote performance as much as to punish the status quo.  It wasn’t really intended for teachers to improve instruction or close the achievement gap among our children- as much as it was for politicians to quantify their competing ideologies about what they believe matters in our schools.

Atlanta reminds us that we’ve lost our soul as a profession–and as a nation– not because of cheating scandals, but because we legislated the game away.

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Filed under children at risk, Common Core State Standards, innovation and change, public education, school reform, standardized testing, teaching, Uncategorized

SAVING SIR KEN

Lately I have been thinking about Spielberg’s movie “Saving Private Ryan”.  Not because we just celebrated Veteran’s Day or because I am particularly inspired by war movies, but because I have been researching models for effective teacher leadership.  And not-so effective models, too.  And because, for a moment there, we lost sight of our mission, just like Captain Miller’s troops.

It happened yesterday when my staff watched Sir Ken Robinson’s video clip on the relative zaniness of the American public education system. We all seem to share a common loathing for standardized tests and what they do to our teaching.  The absence of science and physical education and critical thinking and poetry and joy is conspicuous in our efforts to meet this year’s version of the AYP.  There is deep stress in that.

Moreover, we are healing from a self inflicted (though well-intentioned) wound since we expanded from seven multi-age classrooms to 21 in one year.  Our teachers are struggling.  Searching for support.  Venting. Identifying their frustrations and cursing our commitment to innovation.  And cursing me for promoting the idea in the first place.  Fair enough.

But in the emotions of the moment during our weekly staff meeting when all of our teachers’ patience was at the boiling point, we all forgot that our school is driven by a mission.  Eleven years ago we vowed to get 90% of our students to grade level. At the time, only 19% were there.  That was considered par for our demographics- a low income school 7 miles from the border to Tijuana. But we knew that our students and families and teachers were better than that.  We knew our students had it in them.  We knew our kids would be saddled by low expectations for the rest of their lives unless we changed the culture of achievement at our school and throughout our community.  And so we did.  And now 70% are proficient…and climbing.

Our mission is decent and worthy.  We are not inspired by NCLB or the superintendent or the fear of being labeled an underperforming school.  We are driven, purely, by the boundless potential of our students.

So we promote authentic teacher leadership and democratic models of decision making because we believe that that is the pathway to achieving our goals.  It is the way in which we will get that final 20% proficient.  There is no other roadmap.  No one person has the “right answer’ so we count on all of our teachers to share their expertise for the good of the whole.  It just seems like lately we have gotten distracted by the challenges of implementing  large scale change and we have lost our acuity for identifying the alternative tactics and strategies necessary to move forward.  It is killing morale.  It is testing our resolve.

In the end I am sure Sir Ken Robinson is right and we are all complicit in the destruction of America’s system of public education because we defer to the standardized test.  But that is the game we are in.  That’s the deal. Even when the troops are restless. Sometimes leadership is pointing the compass back to “true north” and holding on to the rudder for all you are worth.

There is a scene in “Saving Private Ryan where Captain Miller’s battalion disintegrates into a dangerous rabble of griping hot heads armed to the teeth and threatening to shoot each other. They had had enough of ‘the mission’.  But he stood his ground in the midst of the chaos. He was calm and decisive.  And for the sake of dramatic effect and unity of purpose, he reminded them all of their lives back home.  Earlier, they had placed bets on what their captain did for a living.  Remember his answer?

He was a high school history teacher.  Mission-driven. A model of teacher leadership.

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Filed under California charter schools, El Milagro, innovation and change, standardized testing

TWO AMERICAS, ONE STORM

NOTE:  It’s been kind of hard to keep up with my weekly blog entries lately… so thanks for staying with this site for the last few weeks. I am working on final edits for my second book (“Fighting For Ms. Rios”… and managing the blog for my class at University of San Diego (check out some excellent posts from my students there).  We are also making advance preparations to launch a little revolution… which will itself be the subject of the next few posts.  Stay tuned!

There is another “Achievement Gap” in America and it is gathering on the near horizon like a storm cloud. Mark my words. That storm will come and we will see our future as a nation engulfed in another predictable catastrophe that didn’t have to happen.

I want Arne Duncan and our President to hear me. I am not in Washington DC or the halls of the state senate in Sacramento. I am at El Milagro and we are fending off foul weather.

Here’s a gap that’s deep and growing deeper by the day:

It starts in schools that struggle to keep pace. For whatever reason. Maybe it is the leadership, maybe it’s the teachers, maybe it’s the kids or the parents or the books or the pedagogy or the water or the facilities or the lack of light. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Because schools that don’t keep pace with AYP have to circle the wagons and teach harder. More reading. More math. Then more reading still. More math still.

And while reading and math crowd out the rest of the curriculum– as schools eliminate science and social studies and the arts and physical education to make way for more focussed/rigorous/aligned instruction in basic skills (aka “test prep”)– something big goes missing:

Creative thinking, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, application, play, self-discovery. Joy. Learning.

…the skills our kids need to compete for jobs. For economic growth. For America. For global survival.

So in communities where kids struggle against artificial goals enshrined by NCLB… they fall further and further behind in the very skills and attributes that prepare them for the 21st century workplace. Basic skills are critical… but Facebook and Google and Apple and Amazon did not become giants on the strength of the standardized test scores of their employees. They rise or fall on their ingenuity.

High performing schools and districts and communities have the luxury of ignoring the inherent threats of high stakes testing. They don’t have to panic and fire their music teachers. They can sing and dance. They can prolong their analysis of world events and enter the local science fair. The can critique good art and celebrate the natural giftedness of their students. They can provide a comprehensive and enriched curriculum for all.

So the Gap widens. Can you see it? Low achieving schools, with their disproportionately large number of low income students, English language learners and other children of color, pressured to turn their fate around, are forced to abandon the very skills their students need the most– the ability to create a new world. While their counterparts in high performing schools think and invent and find their wings.

That white and asian children consistently outperform Latino and African American children in reading and math on standardized tests is a problem. But that is not the only problem. And it certainly isn’t the most urgent.

There are two Americas. For the past 50 years public education has been a primary force to eliminate the distinctions between rich and poor; between our many ethnic and racial differences. But we are the unwitting force now dividing the chasm anew. Two Americas. One storm. One nation falling like a house of cards.

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Filed under charter schools, children at risk, El Milagro, innovation and change, public education, school reform, standardized testing, Uncategorized

THE TURN-AROUND PLACE

Allen Odden is a professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at the  University of Wisconsin-Madison who claims to know how to turn around low achieving schools.  In fact he wrote a book about the topic called “Ten Strategies for Doubling Student Performance”.  He doesn’t work in schools, he studies those of us who do.  So his premise is that school turnarounds are not a new phenomenon and that “we”  know how to fix them, and “we know how to literally double student performance in low income schools, and in the process take huge chunks out of the achievement gaps that separate students along racial and socioeconomic lines.”

In a recent article in Education Week entitled We Know How to Turn Schools Around, Odden identifies 10 core elements he picked up from studying schools just like El Milagro.  Here is Odden’s checklist:

ONE: Create a sense of urgency.

TWO:  Set ambitious goals: (e.g.; to double student performance on state tests, to double the percentage of students scoring at advanced levels, to make sure that no student performs below the basic level at the end of 3rd grade, and that all students leave that grade reading on level.)

THREE:  Throw out the old curriculum and adopt new textbooks, create new curriculum programs, and start to build, over time, a common understanding of effective instruction.

FOUR. Move beyond a concentration on state tests and use a battery of assessments, including formative and diagnostic assessments, common end-of-curriculum-unit assessments, and benchmark assessments.  All of these enable teachers to make midcourse corrections and to get students into interventions earlier.

FIVE:  Create and implement an intensive and ongoing professional-development program. (The best schools form collaborative teacher teams— aka, professional learning communities—that meet often, make use of student data, and work with school-based coaches to improve curriculum and instruction.)

SIX:  Provide extended learning time and extra help for all students to attain proficiency. (e.g., Some combination of one-on-one or small-group tutoring for struggling students, together with extended-day and summer programs that emphasize providing academic help.)

SEVEN: Use time effectively. (Core instructional time for reading, math, and increasingly science is protected from intrusions; each minute is devoted to teaching the class. Literacy time often is extended to 90 to 120 minutes a day.)

EIGHT:  Teachers lead grade- and subject-based professional learning communities. Most of the instructional coaches are the school’s best teachers, and they orchestrate the overall professional-development system. And principals provide real instructional leadership.

NINE: Staff members read the most recent research, reach out to experts in the field, look for and use best practices, and take responsibility for assessing the impact on student learning of what they do, improving instructional practices when student results are not what’s desired.

TEN:  Recruit the talent needed to accomplish lofty goals and implement the collaborative and powerful educational strategies discussed here.

Ok.  So that is his list.  It just so happens that at El Milagro we have been down the path on all 10 core elements.  They are in place. Maybe that is why we have never missed an AYP goal, never missed a year of positive gains on the API, and recently been named a Title I Academic Award Winning School in the state of California.  Or maybe our success has come from going even deeper when initiating school reforms.

There are three problems with the good professor’s premise:

First, it assumes that a “turn around school”  is one that is getting better test scores.  But  perhaps the bigger challenge in school leadership is protecting kids from the craziness of schools obsessed with higher test scores– while still getting higher test scores! It is harder to get results when you refuse to become a test prep academy or when your school still values the meaningful extracurricular activities that don’t always directly tie in to testing (like athletics, theater, the arts, and music).

Secondly,  this article (and the publication of his book!) assumes a college professor has some authority on an issue he has “studied”… as opposed to a having actively engaged in the work of really turning a school around!  It is much like hiring a sports writer to coach an NFL team to the Superbowl or a film critic to create an academy award winning movie.

Finally, in concentrating on these broader, more obvious initiatives that we already stumbled across years ago… Odden’s list misses (at least )10 core elements that run even deeper into the DNA of a successful school.  For example, we have found that to turn a school around and sustain long term, continuous improvement, you must:

• Strike a BALANCE between raising students and raising test scores

• ENGAGE CHILDREN  in their own learning and growth; help them to be experts in analyzing their own test data and set goals accordingly

• Lead parents in a community transition from parent involvement to PARENT ENGAGEMENTwhere parents’ energy is first and foremost directed toward helping their child be a successful learner

• Integrate successful TECHNOLOGY solutions that bridge the digital divide and simultaneously accelerate learning

• Create systems that support STUDENT WELLNESS (academic, social, emotional, mental, medical, dental), especially for students who are otherwise at high risk

• Promote healthy NUTRITIONAL HABITS  and a climate that promotes daily exercise

• Maintain a BEHAVIOR POLICY  that is clear, democratic, humane, and prudently applied (as opposed to “zero tolerance”)

• Promote COMMUNITY SERVICE and each students’ capacity for contributing to others

• Create a sense of individual EFFICACY  among staff and students

• Foster RESILIENCY in individuals and in the school organization as a whole.

Those are my ten.  For now. There will be more innovations for professors to study in how we turn our schools around.

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Filed under charter schools, El Milagro, innovation and change, public education, resiliency, school reform, standardized testing, teaching

ZYDECO HELLRAISERS

What happens to Attention Deficit Disorder when it grows up?

Sometimes it is channeled into extraordinary gifts. So

Michael Phelps

Picasso

JFK

James Carville

Robin Williams… …are all reputed ADHD guys.

This is hardly an exhaustive list but it’s enough to give you a flavor. I think if they named every person ever diagnosed with ADHD we would be surprised by some of the folks that were on the list– and yet not surprised at all. We would recognize the extraordinarily talented individuals who have managed to channel the annoying distractability, the daydreaming, the incessant fingers tapping on the desk, the wild-eye passions that seem fueled by IV bags filled with Red Bull.

Jack Nicholson? Paul McArtney? Ellen?

The names give me pause. And patience. So many extraordinary and talented people that it is less of a pejorative label. Or it should be. But I wonder how we channel the energy of our ADHD kids in the current climate of standardized testing which doesn’t care much about piano players or actors or artists or craftsmen or dancers or point guards or revolutionaries.

Ernest Hemmingway was supposedly an ADHD student who– like Mark Twain and Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein– probably would have tanked on the California Standards Test… right after the whole process tied him in knots and drove him to intentionally fall out of his desk and onto the floor. When the art of writing is reduced to multiple choice writing mechanics… real writers implode.

I notice that every year we seem to have a kid throw up on his California Standards Test. I feel for our students who have to carve what they know about math and language arts into tiny black bubbles at the end of a number 2 pencil– when all the while they are jumping out of their skin. I admire their accidental irreverence. I get it.

As we march toward the steadily unachievable AYP benchmarks established by NCLB, I fear that “school” will get more and more difficult for students whose learning styles and interests and modalities do not lend themselves to test prep; and for students who are not particularly strong in- nor interested in– math and language arts principles that can be freeze-dried into multiple choice questions. I fear that English language learners and children with learning disabilities and learning differences will continue to languish even though they are the very kids we supposedly are trying to not leave behind.

As a school leader, I want to know that we are striking the right balance between excelling on the standardized tests and accelerating authentic learning. I want to match the time we spend conducting formative assessments and spiral reviews and test prep strategies with opportunities for children to play and perform and draw and jump in the air and dive out of their desks.

Kids are good at different things, So at El Milagro we honor what they are good at and try to help them find their way to their innate talents that make them feel whole. Maybe that is why I have such an appreciation for individuals who channel their creative high-energy into gold. In spite of us. Like Alex MacDonald, the washboard player for Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers.

I first saw Alex perform last Spring on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Since then they have traveled throughout Europe bringing their Creole rhythms and uniquely zydeco sounds to bars and blues festivals around the world. They are all wonderful magicians. But Alex is mesmerizing. Electrifying. His non-stop energy reminds us that at one point he must have been very interesting to have sitting in the back row of your third period American History class. Somehow, he seems like the kid that would throw up on his California Standards Test.

His school probably didn’t have a washboard department, so how he found his way to the Zydeco Hellraisers is anybody’s guess. Nor do I know where he gets his stamina or his lightening fast hands. He defies our labels as he should. He is simply a young man that absolutely revels in his very unique gift.

Perhaps it requires some zydeco hellraisers to remind us to find the balance between the core disciplines that matter for standardized test scores… and the multiplicity of intelligences that matter to our students.  Stop and admire their talents even if they struggle with dividing fractions… at least the way we teach it.

Our children learn in different ways. Different styles. They have talents that we can’t even fathom. They will abide our lessons and content standards and standardized test regimes until the moment they are free to dive out of their desk and explode across a zydeco stage.

(Cross-posted on Leadertalk)

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Filed under children at risk, El Milagro, gifted children, standardized testing

HIGH STAKES… All IN

testsWe are two weeks from the 2009 iteration of the California Standards Test.  The clock is ticking. We are prepared.  We are in a zone.  And we better be…considering the high stakes.

High stakes?  Isn’t that just residual hyperbole left over from the NCLB-era politics?  Well let’s check it out.  

Here are a dozen ways that standardized testing has resulted  in high “stakes” outcomes and their unintended consequences:

• High stakes because the results are going to follow every student for the remainder of their school careers.

• High stakes because schools will use the results to determine students’ eligibility for after-school programs and tutoring opportunities and Advanced Placement classes and extracurricular activities. Even for eligibility (and thus in-eligibility) for participation in athletics and the performing arts.

• High stakes because school officials will use the scores as a criteria for classifying children as gifted– public education’s most coveted label.  Similarly, they will cite these scores when diagnosing children as learning disabled.

• High stakes because schools will (illegally) weigh the portents of  these scores before admitting new students.  Or they will consult them– the final straw– before expelling or disenrolling kids; before recommending ‘delinquents’  to a continuation program or independent study or homeschooling or some other version of learning in Siberia.

In high stakes testing, the results matter to everybody. 

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• They are “high stakes” because presidents and governors and mayors run for elected office on the promise of improving local trends in standardized test scores.  School board members too.  And the superintendents that school boards hire will survive on their ability to deliver higher scores on metrics like the Academic Performance Index (API).  Likewise the principals that the superintendents hire will come and go like bad wind and pretty much everybody will feel the pressure when the next wave of leaders are clearing out their desks and insuring their colleagues that they have always wanted to return to the classroom.  

• High stakes because that pressure to raise test scores will drive teachers with the most seniority (and experience) toward the schools with the higher API (800+) and lower stress levels. 

u-haul-1• High stakes because schools with low API’s (<700) will continue to replace those migrating veteran teachers with brand new inexperienced teachers who will take five years to learn their craft… and then they will migrate too.  And while they are learning, those younger teachers will be just starting to raise families of their own.  So you can expect those teachers to be out two to three months on maternity leave and to be temporarily replaced by long-term substitute teachers who have less training and less experience than the inexperienced young teacher they are replacing.

And the community will witness the invisible forces of the high stakes tests in ways they could never imagine.

• High stakes because when educated, upwardly mobile young couples start looking for a suitable neighborhood in which to raise their families they inevitably consider the quality of the schools.   They consult websites like greatschools.net and identify the school districts with the highest test scores.  And that is where they buy their home.  

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• High stakes because when large groups of young, upwardly mobile couples get together to raise their children, they insist on state of the art pre-schools and they start volunteering in the elementary school before their kids are old enough to walk. So a whole community evolves around a culture of high achievement. It becomes pre-ordained and the Academic Performance Index of the schools go even higher.

• High stakes because the schools with low API’s struggle for any organizational momentum at all. They tend to serve families who are less educated and thus less upwardly mobile.  They tend to serve families that are in survival mode. They do not tend to attract the new young families who just moved to town and who are looking for the very best schools.  

• High stakes because the communities with large clusters of well educated and upwardly mobile families experience far fewer home foreclosures than those where families took greater risks with loans.  (In San Diego County, for example, the top five zip codes with the highest number of home foreclosures featured schools with an average API of only 754.) Home foreclosures lead to higher student mobility rates as families migrate toward more affordable housing options.  

High stakes.  

high-stakes2• High stakes because we are all compelled to strike hard against the mountainous challenge of quantifying children’s learning on the basis of  a single standardized test.  We will balance the winners and the losers and the inevitable damage caused when the best of intentions collide with unintentional consequences.  And that is, by definition, high stakes– where our systems align poorly or not at all. And  for that incongruence…our children pay.

In California, there are only two weeks remaining until we administer  the next version of the CST. When it is complete, we will dutifully send our thousand student answer sheets off to Sacramento with a blind faith that they will be accurately scored.  And the cycle of waiting for the results and the early analyses will begin anew.  

Our students are ready to play the game. It is high stakes. We are “all in”.

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Filed under California charter schools, charter schools, El Milagro, gifted children, public education, standardized testing

BOX SCORE

(NOTE: As the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP)  goals continue to accelerate, more and more US schools will be categorized by the pejorative brand: “Program Improvement School”.  NCLB’s kiss of death.  By 2014 as many as 90% of America’s schools could be categorized as underperforming “Program Improvement” schools.  Perhaps it provides a handy label for politicians to rail on public education in general… but inside our schools, where we know our children’s names and faces, it is a different story.

This is the FIRST POST IN A SERIES as Mueller Charter School awaits its test results from the 2007-08 school year.)  

 

I watched Sport Center last night and the announcer declared that the Yankees beat the Red Sox with  5 runs, on 8 hits and 1 error.  The Red Sox had 4 runs on 7 hits and 1 error.  Game over.  Just like that.  Spectacular drama reduced to a box score.

All of the human emotion and energy was drained from the page and forever deposited into the timeless vaults of Major League Baseball.  All that was left behind were shelled peanuts and Bronx beer cups and a lost binocular case: the predictable debris of 55,000 spectators and a national television audience.   Soon all that would be swept away too.  But not the box score.  

 So where in this infinite compression of events does the box score reflect that an  outfielder played the game of his young career or that an old veteran pinch-hit in the  8th and struck out—leaving two runners stranded and causing management to question his future in the game.   Or that a maple bat shattered on a foul ball and flew into the stands just missing an eight year old girl who had turned to look for the vendor selling cotton candy. Or that the pitchers in the bullpen spit sunflower seeds on each other and flirted with the girls in Section 107 and that one of them got a date. Or that an umpire made an embarrassingly bad call on a routine play at second only to stumble as he jogged back out to his position beyond the infield grass.  The fans who were jeering him hesitated long enough to laugh as he nearly face planted within view of a momentarily hostile world. 

55,000 fans left with new memories forever fixed.  “Remember that game we saw at Yankee Stadium just before they tore it down?  When was that… 2007?… 08”    Lives were enriched,  But not the box scores. 

And yes there is a point here.

At Mueller Charter School we await the return of our students’ test scores– now just weeks away. A year’s worth of collaboration, energy, focused effort, commitment, heartbreak, tears, momentary triumphs, wins and losses—will all be reduced to a few lines. A box score. 

“Did you meet your AYP goals?”   

“Did you make significant gains on the Academic Performance Index?”

“Did you go into Program Improvement?”

“Did you prove your worth on the planet as a charter school?”

And we will answer:  “But what about the lives we touched?  The lives we SAVED?  The families we successfully linked with health care insurance… the kids that climbed out of the basement referred to as Far Below Basic… the kids who we sheltered while their father was sent to prison in Central California… the teacher who was ready to quit until she found salvation in her extraordinary students… the strides we made in utilizing formative data to make strategic adjustments…  the hundreds of students who now have enough of a foundation in English to compete academically—even if it wasn’t soon enough to benefit this year’s box score…”

“What about the community of teachers and learners and families who will declare last year a tremendous success, who will return from summer vacation energized regardless of what shows up in the box scores?  What about our indomitable spirit– the “this is our year”, the no quit, no excuses, no turning back– the community invested in the success of their kids?”

Who knows.  When we get our results back at the end of July we may conclude that we have finally overcome the adverse effects of poverty and the economy and family mobility and the challenges of learning English as a second language and that we actually met the AYP and API and PI expectations.  The data may authenticate the most productive year in the 15-year history of Mueller as a charter school.  The Board and media and world community may then suddenly sit up and take notice:  “Wow.  How about that Mueller Charter School.  How did they do it?”  Or not.

In either case we know for certain that a single box score out of context cannot predict whether the Yankees or the Red Sox will win the American League East.  Just as we know that the complex drama of teaching and learning and human relationships and keeping children whole– cannot be meaningfully reduced to a box score. 


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Filed under charter schools, El Milagro, gifted children, public education, standardized testing