This is what confronted me next to each student’s name on a report of standardized practice test results I recently received. A few of my 5th grade students were flagged as not predicted to pass our upcoming state standardized tests in reading, math and science. Once my initial reaction of disappointment began to dissipate, I thought about the best way to explain this news to these select students and their parents. I’m always cautious when sharing results of how a student is “predicted to score” on a test because variables can and usually do change. I also despise having to deliver a message that could possibly dampened a student’s confidence or hope. Needless to say, however, I did have to have some uncomfortable conversations as most teachers do at times.
I set up my first conference. I knew it would be a difficult conversation because this particular student had been trying so hard to comprehend the math and reading skills throughout the year. I had been working with her in small group and she had been making gains. In fact, her class grades had improved in both areas. Her mom just commented to me a month ago about how proud she was of her daughter’s progress. I felt positive as well about her progress. As I revealed these recent practice test scores, I saw a look discouragement on both their faces. The student turned to her mom and said, “Does this mean I might not pass 5th grade?” Her mom deferred to me. Before I could answer, I was reminded of the biblical definition of faith from my book, What They Have Taught Me… ”Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.” Hebrews 11:1. I did my best to convey a message of hope despite the discouraging news of the scores. I reminded both of them that these are just scores and should not define all the progress that has been made so far this year.
LIFE LESSON: As a teacher, I have to remember to be hope for my students even when I don’t always feel hopeful. The routine of a normal school day coupled with the pressures of standardized testing sometimes makes me question whether or not I will make the grade expected from my students. Thankfully, God does not grade us or determine our value based on our level of academic proficiency or outward performance. He looks at our heart and expects us to rely on our hope and faith in Jesus, the Ultimate Teacher.
” I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13