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Test day.

studentsToday is our third quarter reading assessment day. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1. Many of you don’t know what a “text box” is. (And I need to think why this is important to your future.)

2. Many of you are still struggling with using the vocabulary in context clues (you have at least six different pathways). (And now I need to think why this is important to you, too, in this age of digital dictionaries and spell check.)

3. Many of you do not know how to “draw a conclusion.” (And I am reflecting on why you need to know this, too.)

I know and respect many great educational minds whose opinions include abolishing all grading, assessment, and testing. They make very strong cases for their viewpoints. And maybe I’m just un-evolved, but I’m not quite there yet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be.

The reason is this: I don’t know what you know until you show me. And if you can’t show me, you probably can’t do it. So, I can teach it to you!

Your mastery of disguise and ability to use ‘smoke and mirrors’ to hide some of your academic shortcomings is amazing. And I’m not being sarcastic – many of you have learned the coping skills to get through the ‘system’ with nary a glance from your teachers. And most times, I would be complacent, too; it is only those times that I sit and conference with you individually do I learn how much you don’t know. You will say that you understood it, but when we break it down, you don’t.

So, back to my original questions:

1. Why do you need to know what a text box is? Text features help you find material quickly and easily. In this world of vast amounts of information, access to knowledge is just as important as the speed in which you can access it.

2. Vocabulary: the more you know, the more you know. Use logic, make educated guesses, too. Consider a strong vocabulary like a word “bank.” The more that’s in your bank, the more you can make mental withdrawls.

3. Drawing Conclusions: this, most of all,  is really important. This is your ability to show that you don’t take everything at face value. That you don’t believe everything you read or hear. That you can take a lot of facts and opinions, and develop your own opinion about it, that you can back up.

So, you took a test. And the results show these are your weakest areas. But it also shows where I need to support the framework, and strengthen my instruction. It’s for me, too. The test is a broad-stroke approach, and it has its faults and flaws. But at least now we know.

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