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Fighting the predictability of student achievement


 One of the biggest reasons that I’m a teacher is that I’d like to help make the world a slightly less inequitable place.

One way is to interrupt the predictability of student achievement.

This inequity is strong: Students who do well tend to do well. Students who struggle tend to struggle. Over time, the achievement gap becomes wide and menacing.

This predictability gets me to question why I’m a teacher. If my contribution leads to no change — if my students perform the same as they would with anyone else —  then I’m just promoting the inequitable status quo. It’d be better if someone else were in my classroom.

After all, my success this year is not just how many students pass the AP test. It’s also how many pass who wouldn’t have passed without me as a teacher.

So far this year, I’ve seen some signs that give me hope. Students with average reading and writing skills are working extremely hard, not giving up, and seeing their skills improve markedly and quickly.

Still, there is disturbing data. Here’s the story of one student. She…

  • didn’t complete the summer assignment,
  • didn’t turn in the first essay,
  • didn’t have access to a computer until last week,
  • is very hard to reach via phone or text,
  • was the only student not to complete the unit project.
If I am unable to intervene successfully with this student, she will not only fail my class but also not graduate. This would be horrible. The good news is, It’s only October. That gives me time to build our relationship, work on our communication, set up support, and push.It’s crucial that I find a way for her to succeed. Yes, the work will be hard, and not all of my efforts will succeed. But when my student passes the class first semester, we’ll know that we’ve done something important together. 

Please share your brilliant insights!