It is that time of year when inadequacy permeates my thoughts, and I feel as if I am under a microscope. I do not like to dwell in the negativity of testing, but it is a part of our educational culture. As teachers, testing and the data gleaned from it is something we all must deal with.
Last week I gave the STAR reading test to monitor how much my students grew as readers this year. As I explained to my students, this "number" is just one snapshot of their reading growth. But I was still discouraged by the results.
I have put much time and effort toward changing the reading culture in my classroom this year, and I really wanted my efforts to be visible in these tests results. I do not have a lot of faith in the STAR test, but I know people in high places look at these scores and want to see improvement in reading levels.
Today I listened to Penny Kittle's podcast with Donalyn Miller about independent reading. You can listen to all of the Book Love Foundation podcasts here.
In this interview, Penny talked about all the pillars which hold up our readers. One pillar is all the tools to help students find books in hopes of finding at least one which will keep them reading. Other pillars are a place to read, access to books, and time to read in school to accommodate their busy schedules.
Listening to this podcast, I realized that teachers are also a pillar, maybe the most important one. I know I have made a difference in the reading lives of some of my students, although I may not have seen this in their scores last week.
A student recently wrote in a card that she has probably never read this many books in one year before. I had another student tell me I had changed him into a reader. I know I have not reached all of my students, but without these pillars, I have to wonder where they would be?
I don't need a test score, a level, or a number to be hold up my students. I spent a year putting the pillars Penny talks about in place. When they leave me in just a few short weeks, I know what a difference these pillars have made in their reading lives. And I don't need a reading level to tell me any different.