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I Think I’m Going to Pass FCAT This Year

Last Friday, I administered a very difficult test that required students to apply inferencing skills we’d been working on for the past three or four weeks.

Inferencing is a skill that does not come easily to struggling readers because it requires them to read between the lines to discover messages that writers do not explicitly express.

Students have to use clues from the text plus what they already have in their schema (that’s background knowledge for you non-education-industry folks) to reach conclusions.

As a person who often doesn’t “get” jokes, I can certainly empathize with my students’ struggles.

Many of my students did not do well on my exam, and I worried whether I had tested them fairly.

Barb looked over my test and declared it bona-fide FCAT prep material (i.e., an excellent test).

I was hesitant to return the tests to my students, but they weren’t all that surprised about the results.

They knew it had been challenging.

There were surprises, though.

One of my students, who is classified as ELL (English Language Learner – hails from a home where another language besides English is primarily spoken), had made one of the best grades in his class.  ELL students usually have a more difficult time with reading comprehension, so success comes in much smaller steps sometimes.

You should have seen the look on his face when he saw his grade.

I do not think I could have wiped that smile off if I’d tried.

Then, he said some of the most powerful words I’ve heard from a student, “Mrs. AuburnChick, I think I’m going to pass FCAT this year.  I have the confidence to do it now.”

Did you get tears in your eyes when you read that?

I felt tears form behind my eyes when he spoke those words to me.

This young man has a lot of struggles besides academics.

He’s been in my homeroom for two years, and I cannot say that I was exactly thrilled when he walked through my door this year as a member of one of my ninety-minute classes.

His reputation preceded him, I’m afraid, and his antics in class have been, shall we say, “interesting.”

BUT, and this is a huge word, something is clicking for him.

He has asked to be moved to a seat away from everyone else so he won’t be tempted by the distractions that others cause in that room.

His test score sparked something in him.

It sparked confidence.

This is something that most struggling readers do not possess.

They are used to failing.

The state board of education has repeatedly told them that they miss the mark, so they often give up.

They’ve been carrying around labels such as ESE, ADD, and other three letter acronyms for years, and they feel stigmatized.

My student even said as much to me on Tuesday.  He said that he feels dumb because he is classified as ELL.  These kids are smart, and they know what IEPs and 504 plans are.  They sit in on their own meetings.

My heart went out to him, as it does to every single one of my students.  They are all precious to me, and trying to meet their individual needs causes me much angst.

Rebuilding confidence is part of every teacher’s job.

We can only pray that they do experience success so that they can say, with a sure voice, “I think I’m going to pass ___________ this year.”

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