School Daze

studyingSTAR testing is just around the corner for school children across California.  My oldest is in second grade so this year she will take the test for the first time.  I live in small town.  Their are only fourteen kids in my little girls class, and it is a multi grade classroom. K-3  Theoretically this would be great.  Can you imagine the one on one time?  Can you imagine it being a part of the older kids curriculum to teach the younger ones?  It seems like you retain information better when you have to teach it.  Unfortunately this teacher sucks.

Ok I am being dramatic she doesn’t suck.  She is mediocre, unimanginative, dislikes her job.  My girl has been with her for three years, and loves her.  I found out this winter that my girl is behind.  Her reading and math are at the first grade level.  The wierd thing about this was how I found out.  I did not get a bad report card (all E’s and plus’s), I did not receive a telephone call, I was not asked for a parent teacher conference.  I asked for harder work and was shown the work my girl was doing with the first graders.  I understand the logic, the more kids are on the same level the less levels you have to teach.  This teacher shows up for school after I do half of the time.  She misses more days then most of her class.  We are a necessary small school so no pink slips are coming our way.  She has tenure so each infraction must be documented in order to be evaluated.

I took my girl out of school one day a week for some extreme one on one time.  I have received many comments on how fast she is picking things up.  I have to drive two hours a day for school.  My success at home makes me want to take her out completely.  My girl cries at the thought.

Notes have been coming home about extra homework because of testing.  I was told to have her read the directions for her work herself as practice for testing.  I have been all year why haven’t you?  I don’t want it to bother me that she is behind but it does.  I don’t want anything to be hard for her.

I think I liked school better when I was the one who had to go.

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18 Responses to “School Daze”

  1. I homeschool mostly (I was a teacher though) but I like your solution to keep her home one day a week and do more one on one time. If her friends are there she isn’t going to want to leave.

    Also, I would suggest having her read to you a half hour a day (while you are cooking dinner if possible.)

    Have her write at least a sentence or two a day. make it fun though. My son and I would write clues with treats. I would write “the chips are on the bed.” He would find them and then using my note for spelling clues write “the chips are on the buk [book]” I would praise everything I could, show how we spell book and write another clue. He quickly got good at that. Adapt for her level of writing and make more games at first. Then write stories together. She writes a sentence then you write one.

    Good luck!

  2. Our three day weekends have been wonderful. The extra time gives us a chance to do so many more fun things together. Thank you so much for the suggestions. I appreciate them immensely.

  3. Eric Kirk Says:

    I don’t know what school your child is in so I can’t suggest much with regard to the teacher, but there is a lot of pressure on teachers not to teach to the test and that takes some of the imagination out of the process. There’s a great song about it.

    My son is also in the second grade and will be taking the test as well. I didn’t take my first standardized test until I was in the 4th grade and that test was more about where to place us rather than to evaluate the effectiveness of the education system. As someone who has always done well on standardized tests I can testify that they are a sham. They test your process of elimination, little more.

  4. You should be aware that you have the RIGHT to opt out of S.T.A.R. testing. The district will whine and squirm, but they can’t actually make your child take the test. Also, homeschooling is tough, but you get way more control over things and, in my opinion, you get a better educational deal. It’s hard timewise and I understand that not everyone has the time, but if you do, consider it. There’s an above average amount of homeschooling resources on the north coast and with some planning, it’s possible to homeschool and still get the social interaction that kids need.
    After years, I finally caved and let my daughter homeschool and, viola, her grades shot up and she’s been pretty darn happy ever since.

  5. I’d make a horrible homeschooler, but I’ve been so blessed by my kid’s teachers. I will say that being an involved parent in the process isn’t really fun. It’s a JOB. I have to be as up on what my son is doing as they are. I have meetings to attend, extra things to try, and worries to carry. My oldest is also in second grade.
    I was thinking you were lucky your school isn’t facing layoffs, but now I’m not so sure. Unfortunately, Ambrosini isn’t getting rid of teachers who suck. They’re doing the “last hired first fired” method. That means some good ones are going to have to go.
    Good luck. It sounds like you’re doing an awesome job.

  6. Eric Kirk Says:

    You should be aware that you have the RIGHT to opt out of S.T.A.R. testing. The district will whine and squirm, but they can’t actually make your child take the test.

    What are the consequences for the district if students opt out?

  7. The district receives money based on the scores of the kids who test. If you have too many scores below average your district is penalized with some losses of funding and the district is required to hire extra tutors in order to catch up. (thank you No Child Left Behind). Our district has a charter school attached to it. Most of the kids in the charter school chose to opt out of testing and our average plummeted. We were put on funding probation and required to hire specialists in reading and math.

    This seems so backwards to me. Your kids are doing badly so we are going to take money away and we are going to require that you spend more. It doesn’t make sense.

    Thank you Erik for the song it was great. Bubba I know I can opt out, but because of the size of our district my opting out directly effects the whole. As of right now I lack self confidence in my teaching abilities, but if things don’t change soon I have a feeling that is not going to matter. Jen I know how you feel about losing good teachers while bad ones get to stay on because they were hired first. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give the teachers a test? Thank you for the compliment.

  8. Eric Kirk Says:

    But I would think that the lower test performing kids would have the parents most likely to opt out. It would seem thus that the resistance to parents’ requests would be counterproductive as the exclusion of lower test performers would drive the score average up.

  9. Eric, in my admittedly limited experience, it takes effort to opt out–which means parents who care which usually means kids who do well on tests. I know the school my oldest son went to told me they were having that problem at one time.

  10. True, Kym, but it’s easy to opt out – you just send in a note or make a phone call and ignore the protests that might occur. At least, that was my experience. I opted my oldest out every time because I think the emphasis on STAR testing is misguided and damaging to the overall school experience.

    By the time the younger two reached that point, however, the school budget situation had become so dire that I compromised my principles in order to help the school out. (I have high-testing kids.)

    I homeschooled one of my kids for a semester; the experience was wonderful. If you have the time and motivation, the community is supportive and full of resources.

  11. As I understand it, opting out does not remove your children from the average. The school is still penalized for the number of kids who opt out.

    Erik I think it is the opposite, usually the more involved a parent is the better a child does in school. Only parents who payed attention would even know you could opt out.

  12. Jen, I did the same thing and opted my oldest out because, as a teacher, I was appalled by the emphases rolled down like avalanche onto the test. But, the school needed his high scores to bring up the average and I relented but very reluctantly.

    Inretaliation, you stirred our passions with this post!

  13. No STAR testing and homeschooling bound.

    I started working with my son once a week and it was apparent that the little time we spent together was enough to make him feel more confident when doing this work while in school. The problem is, it’s almost the end of the school year and I’m realizing that his academic experience has not only effected his self esteem, but his teacher is a bully…my son has often commented on how his teacher yells, says ‘shut up’ to the class; only likes the kids ‘who know the answers’ and the worst of it, my son says he feels like a dummy. It doesn’t matter if these things are addressed to the teacher or principal, they are to tight to penetrate that bound. I’m tired of trying to patch all the wounds my son is acquiring from public school and finish the teaching job that his teacher is unwilling or incapable of doing Sure, teachers have it rough but it’s obvious that many don’t like their job. I sub all over the county, my husband is a full time high school teacher and we consistently see rude, inappropriate, impatient, and insensitive behavior on the part of teachers; and frankly I’m sick of it! In more than one school we have witnessed teachers recommending students be on medication – to force the child into a nice little box and make their job easier; last I checked teachers are not physicians. I even left a classroom to report a teacher’s aid using corporal punishment as a method of getting a student to focus – outrageous! And then I saw the same aid back in the school two weeks later. I have three children, two are in high school now but my 9 year old will not return to public school – I will be homeschooling, resources are great up here and my son’s worth it.

  14. That’s wonderful that you took it into your own hands and did some homeschooling. I’m at my wits end. I feel like my 3rd grader has learned nothing over this last year and has some language/auditory processing issues. The school psychologist, reading specialist, nor the teacher has helped with implementing a plan to get her extra help. So how did you go about taking her out of school 1x a wk without penalty?

    Thanks!

  15. I should have been penalized, but we have a very small school that needs all the ADA it can get. They were willing to work with me, in the hopes that I would not pull her out permanently. I learned much later that since the superintendent was off site he did not know what was happening, the principal was not keeping him informed and trying to keep both the teacher and the parents happy. I ended up filing a formal complaint with the superintendent about the teacher. Did you know it is part of most teachers contract to be at the school 20 minutes before school and 20 minutes after? I documented her tardiness and her absences, these were not her main issues but I needed something that wasn’t subjective. This letter of complaint will follow her in every job she ever tries to get. Once a teacher has three of these they can be fired even if they have tenure. Many parents followed suit, we have a new teacher now, I homeschooled last year (not as difficult as it sounds), and now my daughter is back in school and at grade level. phew

  16. @ tina I am so sorry I did not reply to this earlier. I hope everything went well for you and you are delighted with homeschooling. I found it to be such a sweet time with my daughter, if she wouldn’t have begged to be back with her friends I would still be doing it.

  17. @ inretaliation: I am very involved with my daughter, but she’s not doing so hot in school. One major reason is complication with auditory learning procesess. I only found out a few weeks ago that I had the right to opt out of testing. In fact the teacher was the one who dropped me a clue. I didn’t really have any reason to opt out up until now. So that’s how I found your blog…. I’ve also been researching reading specialist and anyone else who can shed light on me. Oh yeh and I haven’t homeschooled my daughter yet but it sure sounds like something i’d want to do a couple days a wk.

    @Tina: I so understand where you’re coming from. My daughter’s current teacher is mean spirited and raises his voice a lot. She complained about him shorly after starting his class. The principal is lazy and backs up the teachers 100%. I asked her to look into getting my daughter transferred into a different class and all I got was attitude and justification for their wrong doing. Unfortunately I had no tangible evidence like inretaliantion did when the teacher came in late and left early. All I have are shitty teachers with poor attitudes and perform at the medoicre level. Urhhhh

  18. My nephew has a very mild case of autism. My sister found lots of resources, like speech therapy outside of the public school system. He goes to a Montessori school now (lucky her to have that option). In Montessori they don’t focus on the three R’s in a traditional way, they try to base it on real life play. The special resources were not free, but they almost all had low income options and scholarships.

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