Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Poetry Stretch

The Monday Poetry Stretch at The Miss Rumphius Effect is blues poetry. Tricia listened to blues music to get in the mood to write. The recommendation from The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms is "think of something that depresses you."

I started to write a self-serving, whiney poem about too many meetings that each generate more work to be done and yet eat up all the time in the day in which that work might actually get done.

Then I decided to write about something far more important and exponentially more depressing. I've got...

The AYP* Blues

No child left behind, brother
No child left behind
No child left behind, sister
No child left behind

Why measure progress with one test
And call it accountability?
The bar's so high it can't be reached
In some parts of the city.

Poor child left behind, brother
Poor child left behind
ELL child left behind, sister
ELL child left behind

Let's tell our leaders what we need:
a model based on GROWTH.
Measure each child's yearly learning
And see who GAINS the most.

No child left behind, brother
No child left behind
No child left behind, sister
No child left behind


*AYP stands for Adequate Yearly Progress. It is part of No Child Left Behind. The name is misleading. AYP does not really measure progress, it measures the ability of children to get a certain score on a single test. Children take the test whether or not they are fluent (or even proficient at a basic level) in English. The bar is the same height for children who have had all the advantages of an affluent home life, and for children whose only two meals of the day are the free breakfast and lunch they receive at school. Researchers are able to predict with 95% accuracy which schools will not make AYP based on such factors as poverty levels, and number of English Language Learners (ELLs).

A more sane approach would be to measure student learning with a pretest at the beginning of the year and a posttest at the end of the year. Teachers should be required to make sure that every child achieves a year's growth in a year. This would actually be more challenging for teachers in schools that easily meet AYP. Their students are already so close to the bar that it's no stretch to make it over. If they had to make a year's gain in a year's time, those students would really have to stretch for once.

8 comments:

  1. Fabulous poem! I think we should send this to Congress. Do you think they'll bite?

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  2. i wish we could sit down together in a smoky bar and listen to this with a sax, piano, and a bass behind it.....

    clink. ice. ahhhh. shucks. Now I'm feeling blue, but kinda cathartic blue, like we're all in this mess together blue.

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  3. Amen, sister. Amen and amen.

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  4. Um, is there any way you could be president?

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  5. Wow...what a great poem. Made my day! Especially since our school is going through our standardized testing this week!

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  6. Super poem. Sad that we have to deal with this.

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  7. Thank you for the poem. This is exactly what my school is going through.

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  8. "Measure each child's yearly learning
    And see who GAINS the most."

    AMEN sister!! Now you are talking.

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