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Rivers & Roads – Harvard…Here I Come

There is a lot of talk this time of the year around state testing. As a teacher in upper elementary school, we eat, sleep, and breathe MCAS. Now people will try to tell you no one is holding you accountable for the results, but the fact is… they are. The district cares because the scores influence funding and the district’s overall rating; principals care, well, because their boss cares, lol; and parents care because everyone wants proof that their child is a gosh darn genius and headed to Harvard and they think the MCAS score tells them that. They think.

As I have recorded for all of eternity, Luke and school *broke up* lol in eighth grade. From that point on, Luke truly struggled to get any grade over a C and that darn F was everywhere on PowerSchool when I would check. He failed Physics and French in Freshman year and Sophomore year he added English to the list, so I think you will understand my surprise when the Grade Ten MCAS scores came out and Luke had a glorious ADVANCED stamped across the page. Advanced. Yep. Now, don’t get me wrong, Luke was a bright kid, but it seemed to me if he hadn’t been paying attention and learning, how could he possible know any of the material being tested?

“Some people are getting Advanced on the MCAS that SHOULD NOT be getting ADVANCED on the MCAS!”

This was on Twitter shortly after and it made me CRY with laughter!! I heard Danny J. was pissed that Luke had done so well and said this, but that’s an urban myth. ? Dan did confirm that Luke taunted him, saying he was going to get a higher score, lol. Not sure if THAT actually transpired, but it’s funny to think about.

Junior Year is all about the SATs. As Luke continued to try and follow the same path as his peers, he signed up. He definitely didn’t do any practice tests or try any sample questions. lol Actually, looking back it was a miracle he got there on time that day. ? Anyhoo, The results get emailed to you and when Luke got his, I am sure the whole neighborhood heard him whoop. I don’t remember the number now, but John and I want to say it was 1390 or something like that. It was beyond decent. It was *buy your kid into college* kind of good. Between Luke’s MCAS score and his SAT score, suddenly our mailbox was FLOODED with college materials from all across the country. Like stacks and stacks! I secretly hoped that one of these pamphlets would appeal to Luke and inspire him to get his act together so he could actually attend one of them, but he barely gave them a glance. More school was not on his agenda.

As Canadians, this whole SAT score thing didn’t mean much to us. We didn’t know anything about the whole college process including timelines or requirements or test scores. I’ll never forget standing on the back deck of the Sachs’ house talking with Mike Fiorelli. He was asking about Luke and I was sharing the drama of the day and happened to throw in a comment about his SAT scores.

“Apparently that’s pretty good,” I remarked. Mike’s eyes sort of bugged out a little and he said, “With a score like that, he could get into any college he wanted.”

“Maybe, ” I returned, “but the fact that he is FAILING every class in high school might be a problem.” Mike softly shook his head and laughed.

“Kid’s freaking smart, man, ” he said. Tell me something I don’t know, I thought to myself.

So here’s what I need you to know: MCAS scores and SAT scores and ACT scores are not the measure of a child. They are also not a predictor of success – in school or in life. Luke performed above average on both of these assessments. Did his teachers do an outstanding job at high school? Nope ( no fault of theirs of course, lol). Was Luke going to attend the best colleges Massachusetts has to offer? Nope. He Wasn’t even going to graduate high school. Did these scores mean Luke was a well-adjusted, achievement-oriented young man? Well, we all know the answer to that one. So, do they mean ANYTHING, Miss Patty? Sure. Data always gives us something to reflect on and use to make decisions – as a district, as a school, as a teacher. But it is ONE thing. It is ONE day. My recommendation? Keep a balanced perspective. Don’t put TOO much weight on those standardized tests. Let’s promote JOY and CURIOUSITY in our schools. Let’s raise our children to be KIND, HAPPY, and LIFELONG learners. Let’s measure our school systems, our communities, ourselves, EVERYTHING by their HEART. Forever and ever. Amen. lol

By Patty Inwood

Harvard…Here I Come
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