10 April 2008

The Mother of All Pep Talks

Tenth grade Science WASL testing happens next week. Meeting the standards is not required for graduation...and there are no penalties associated with not "passing." In other words, it really doesn't matter if the kids do well, but I still want them to be successful.

I've talked to my students a lot about not closing any doors. They might not need their scores to earn a diploma, but they do need them to access thousands of dollars in scholarships for technical school or college. Even if they aren't thinking they want to go to college now, I am suggesting that they keep the option available. Who knows what they will want in 2 years? Due to military careers or other life choices, they may not even go to college until 10 years from now. Why not ensure that their transcripts are able to support them in the future? I've reminded kids that they have worked hard at learning all year---just go out and kick some tail on the test. I don't really know if any of this is sinking in, but I hope this extra bit of carrot coupled with my expectations for them will be enough to keep them engaged next week.

So far, I've been fortunate in the sense that while other teachers are hearing their students say that they're not going to show up to school on the science test days, my kids have not made those admissions. At least not to my face. :) Perhaps I'm fooling myself, but that already feels like a leg up on things. About 30% of my students met the standards when they took the science test in 8th grade. While I don't think that 100% will make it over the bar as 10th graders, I'd like to think that more than 30% can. I'm not hammering them on the test this week. We are spending some time looking at some of the problems and talking strategies. I feel good about their general understanding of the inquiry process. I just need them to give it the old college try next week.

I asked the principal to come in and give us little pep talk to my students. He declined, of course, and sent the ass't. admin instead. My main goal with that was to reinforce some high expectations and support for their efforts. He did a passable job. We both know that overcoming the undercurrent of "The test doesn't count." would require the Mother of All Pep Talks.

No comments: