The Stigma of Scores

After the day I’ve had, I needed to read this Huffington Post article that has been circulating on Facebook. I’m thankful that I have a people around me who encouraged me tonight (and everyday) and reminded me why I chose my job.

You see, this past week my first-ever students took their state-mandated and state-written final exam. They finished the test feeling defeated– some even called themselves stupid afterwards. Which leaves me feeling defeated and discouraged too.

I’m not discouraged because of the potential effects of standardized testing on my job (even though it stinks). I’m discouraged because these test scores make my students feel small and incapable. This semester, I watched them fight the stigmas placed on them. I heard heartbreaking stories of difficult family situations and unbeatable odds. I watched them struggle and want to tear their hair out as they pushed themselves to really get the concepts and do the dirty work it takes to catch up. I also had the privilege to witness their victories and grand epiphanies. I watched light bulbs turn on in their brains and concepts finally make sense. I saw them grow leaps and bounds.

What we experienced together this semester cannot be measured by a test or even adequately described in words. Was I a perfect teacher? Nope. Far from it, actually. Did I meet every standard, grade papers in a timely manner, keep my cool in every moment, dot every “i” and cross every “t”? Nope.

But I can be certain that my students have walked out of my classroom knowing that I care about them and their future. That I am willing to do whatever it takes to help them succeed. And that’s because regardless of what their test scores or their parents or society says, I truly believe that my students can do anything they put their minds to. And knowledge and determination like that is simply not quantifiable.

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