As I struggle with getting my Fundamental Level and College Prep students to succeed, I am running into some serious roadblocks which may prevent me from reaching our goals. Here are the roadblocks:
1. My students are reading well below grade level.
Q. If the state standards expect student performance at grade level, shouldn't our classroom tests also be at grade level? And shouldn't all students be judged according to the standard?
2. We have a glaring achievement gap.
Q. If our highest achieving students are reading Shakespeare, shouldn't our lowest achieving students also be reading Shakespeare? Otherwise, doesn't the gap continue to grow?
3. My lowest achieving students don't attempt homework.
Q. Should I read the text to them?
4. A small but dominating number of students disrupt our halls during class.
Q. Should I close my door and ignore?
I've found myself in a troubling predicament philosophically. On the one hand, I believe in the idea that all of my students deserve a college prep curriculum. However, it seems that too many of my students don't buy into that same belief. While I am asking my lowest performers to attempt their readings each night so that we can work on chunks of text in class, they are not even bothering with it. My lowest performers are being given the same novels and short stories as my college prep students, but I can't "differentiate" if none of the students try the reading.
I want my school to operate successfully. I want our hallways clear and free of distraction so that my students can find success. I don't want to allow the disruptive students to get away with distracting our school, but if I interrupt class to call security, I take away instruction time from my students. If I simply move the disruptive students along, I'm tacitly allowing the disruption to continue.
I want all of my students to succeed at grade level and to the same standard. If I lower the reading levels of my novel selection to match where my lowest readers are at, I am suggesting that these students are not capable and thus lowering my expectations for them. By not giving them an honest college prep curriculum, I am, again, tacitly allowing the achievement gap to continue and grow.