Teaching

The Growth Factor

A few years ago, I received a visit from a distraught single mother whose son I had taught years before in kindergarten. In kindergarten her child zoomed into reading, writing and arithmetic. He loved his work and was highly motivated. Upon her visit however, in fifth grade, he was rebellious and hated his school.  The mother begged me for some kind of help, answers and direction. Unfortunately, apart from placing this child in a private or charter school, I could offer nothing. Sadly, this mother did not have any charters in her area and she could not afford private school. So, I sent her away without any real solution, upset and pretty hopeless.
What happened? Why did this young hopeful degrade?
I’m sure there are many variables which influence a child to either excel or slide away. School administrators ought to pay attention to the statistics showing growth or decline over a period of time in their schools. This is valuable information and can lead to innovations and changes in school policy.
Students come to schools with a wide variety of skills already in place, however, we measure their abilities yearly even though over a period of time we see various growths or stagnation occur. Sadly, many teachers have witnessed some of their brightest, most promising children, decline in aptitude and interest over the years in their own schools. It is quite demoralizing for teachers to see their “children of promise” basically lose their zest for learning.
This article posted in the New York Times entitled: How Effective Is Your School District? highlights some important, yet overlooked, success results in a school–the measurement of student growth.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Chicago Public Schools leading the pack.  A few years ago, I did some teacher training for the  Sing, Spell, Read & Write reading program with a few lovely teachers in an elementary school in Chicago. I’m so happy to see that their schools are moving forward! Upward and onward Chicago! Congratulations!
Enjoy and let me know what you think.