Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Out of the Blue (Which Happens to Be One of Our School Colors)

In a faculty meeting today, my bristly principal announced that our school was the only one in the local district (meaning in a very large area that is already larger than any respectable school district should be, but is only a small portion of LAUSD) to meet its annual goals for raising test scores for the '06-'07 school year. Huh.

She then told us that all of the subgroups (yes, that's what we call them) met their goals as well. This means African-American students, English Language Learners, and Students with Disabilities all improved. Huh.

She then thanked "all of the people who come into contact with the students each day" for making this happen. She never said teachers. The clerical staff looked nervous.

So what does this means? 15% of our students are performing at a proficient level, according to state tests. This is up from 12% last year, and it was even lower in years before. For this accomplishment, we were given cake (2 kinds!). And lemonade. Pink lemonade.

It is true that there is momentum building at our school, and that library circulation is up 1,000 books a month from just one year ago, and that we had elective classes for the first time in 8 years last year, and that our teachers are forming effective teams for the first time, and that we had math contests, reading contests, and other incentives for the first time....maybe ever! These things should most certainly help raise test scores, and I believe they should be credited. We may be experiencing a revolution at this school. This may be the beginning of an unprecedented upswing. They may make a movie about us called "It Took a Village", "Criminally Intelligent", or "Up from the Streets".

As I watched the PowerPoint slides that stylishly listed our achievements, a horrible part of me couldn't help thinking that this was somehow staged. Could someone have tampered with our scores? Why now? Why had we never improved before? Doesn't it seem convenient that this happened right before the state takes drastic measures, like firing the administration and taking over the school itself?

But then I looked around at all the happy and befuddled teachers eating cake and I thought, nah. Things might actually be looking up. This is a real crack team and we're on the case. Huh.

PS - no word from Ralph's.

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