When you said a 7th grade class, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought you had made it to the next grade along with some of the other knuckleheads I had seen the year before. No matter. You’d be in my class and I was going to make you love math, even if you were given a score of a 1. You were told to repeat the grade earlier on because they place your value on a math test instead of your academic potential. They saw a red mark and a “promotion-in-doubt” next to your ID and thought it would be best if you repeated the material, even if that test didn’t really indicate your capacity for the material, but your capacity to pass that test.
Again, no matter.
A few days after I figured out how I would approach you, one of the first things I said to you after class was that we were going to prove everyone wrong about your math capacity. If only I used that same line with everyone else in my class, or else they might have done better. There you were, quietly kicking ass while nothing on your report changed. You were still labeled a 1 in math even as you were slowly creeping up in your grades. Your dedication to your learning only pushed me to push you, even when I sometimes felt hopeless about the level I was teaching math in the class.
Again, no matter.
By many indications, you should have shown a year and a half in growth, which puts you in their pristine green zone, or a level 3. Not a bad achievement by some people’s standards. But for me, you have been such a joy to have in class, I would have accepted whatever you got as long as it was your absolute best shot. You didn’t let me quit on you because we had a pact already set, and I appreciated the way you held me to that. As I watched you walk down the graduation aisle, I can only think back to when I saw you transferred from a 7th grade class and laughing at the absurd rationale for doing so.
Let’s ignore how everyone else got to graduation, and instead let’s be happy for how you did it. Because for you, this is a commencement for the next part of your life where the next set of tests aren’t the ones that determine your value in a test score, but test your character. And you got it, kid. You got it.
Jose, who has a few things to say to Arne Duncan …