After what Kelsey LaMar considers a brutal week of testing, all of her students are officially done with state exams. She's thrilled to be able to get her classroom back to teaching and learning but knows that this isn't the end of those scrutinized tests.
"My students are blissfully unaware that their tests have been shipped out of state somewhere to be graded by people who have never taught a day in their lives," she shared on Love What Matter's Facebook page. "In a few months, our scores will come back. They will be plastered in all of the newspapers."
As soon as that happens, Kelsey knows that the test scores will just become numbers for citizens in her town to scrutinized, dissected, and gossiped about. "In their eyes, I will either be a hero to celebrate or just another bad teacher to complain about," she wrote. "The scores will show whether I taught them what they needed to learn. I had an entire year, right?"
For many students in her class, the tests will help give much needed feedback on how she taught certain standards and shed light on potential changes she could make for next year but that isn't the entire picture. "For many of my students, I will feel such pride to see how far they've come," she wrote. "And unfortunately for some, I will wonder what went wrong."
However, there are many more things that those scores won't reveal and that's what Kelsey needs everyone to understand:
They won't show the new Somalian refugee student (knowing very little English) that I was given five minutes before testing. "Hi, I'm your teacher, Mrs. Lamar. Welcome to my class! Here's your computer because we will be testing all week."
They won't show that one of my student's father just went to jail for beating someone to a pulp right in front of him. He is so angry about it that he threw rocks at houses and was sent to juvenile detention for two days.
They won't show the two students with bags under their eyes because their parents were up fighting all night, AGAIN.
They won't show the few students who were so ill they were crying, but their parents sent them to school anyways because they don't have childcare.
They won't show the student whose mom is in the hospital in Denver yet again. She is so sick with anxiety that her mom is going to die that she can think of nothing else.
They won't show the student who fell asleep twice during the first test because he was up all night coughing and his new asthma meds haven't come in yet.
They won't show the student who had to walk his baby brother to his grandma's house the night before because his dad was beating his mom up again.
They won't show the students who had no food at home so they came to school starving.
They won't show the internal struggle of my seven students on IEPs (special education). The students with diagnosed learning disabilities who feel so much success during the year when they are working at a level they can access. However, we hand them a test that they "should" be able to do because they're in fourth grade darnit! And we crush their spirits. All of a sudden the advances they made this year are not good enough because "look what all the other kids can do!"
They won't show that 3/4 of my class come from non-English speaking homes. Most of them will be unable to correctly answer the meaning to obscure English phrases such as, "She wears her heart on her sleeve." However, they are able to translate beautifully for their parents at the grocery store or to make sure their siblings are seen for the correct illnesses at the doctor.
They won't show the fact that almost all of my students learned how to multiply 257 x 35. However, when you ask it in a half page word problem with four other numbers that they don't actually need, they failed. They got so lost trying to dissect the English language that they gave up and just picked two numbers to add.
They won't show that my classroom is comprised of 21 boys and seven girls. Asking young, energetic boys to sit silently for four hours a day for a week is like pure torture for them.
But Kelsey already knows all of this so no matter what the test scores "reveal" she's going to continue doing what she already does every day: "Teaching and loving my students the best that I know how," she wrote. "Maybe someday we will wake up and realize that a single test score doesn't show the entire picture."