My students did well on their Regents exams last June. I don't hold myself singularly responsible for either the success or failure of my students. A lot depends upon the students themselves, their network of support, the level of difficulty of the test, etc. In my two Regents classes, it seems that only one student failed, and with a grade of 62. In my mind, that's on par with a miracle.
It seems like I'll more than survive my V.A.M. this year, but rather than gloating, I'm thinking more about my student with the 62. So as to maintain anonymity, let me call this person "Student 62." Student 62 came to my class a few weeks into the school year. I could see that Student 62 probably wondered, "why the program change?" Student 62 probably had to leave some friends behind to come to my class, beginning late in the day, after 4 p.m. Student 62 may have been miffed. Even more "miff-worthy," I may be a harder teacher than some...but, doubtless, easier than others. I sympathized with Student 62. I wanted to help Student 62 adjust to our class as swiftly and seamlessly as possible.
It seemed Student 62 adjusted well, but then, all of a sudden, Student 62 disappeared for no apparent reason. I learned that Student 62 had suffered an injury. Student 62's name still appeared on my class register for weeks, then it disappeared. If I remember correctly, the name reappeared for awhile and then disappeared again. I still held onto 62's Delaney card in the back of my book and carried it with me to class each day. Then, one day, out of nowhere, Student 62 re-emerged. I wasn't even sure it was Student 62 at first. Once I was sure, however, I was pleased to be able to pull Student 62's Delaney card from the back of my book like a magician from a hat.
During the extended absence, student 62 had been home schooled for many weeks. Student 62 had some good grades to show for it. When Student 62 started taking tests with me, however, I could tell that Student 62 wasn't on track to pass the Regents. I spent the obligatory weeks in May and June reviewing with my classes for the Regents. I was concerned about Student 62's grades. But I was also concerned about the grades of a number of other students.
Student 62, although she failed the Regents by a few points, will succeed in life. I am sure of this. Let me tell you why. When students made brief presentations to the class in late April, two boys struggled accessing their file on the computer. Student 62 boldly left her seat. Instead of asking Student 62 to sit down, I watched Student 62 with keen interest. Was Student 62 going to the garbage can? Was she headed to open a window? Happily, I did not have reason to suspect mischief. Without a word, Student 62 strode over to the computer, pressed a few keys and accessed the file in question, solving the boys' problem as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Then, Student 62 returned to her seat. Not a word was said. Student 62 was probably not the only student in that room with the knowledge to help, but Student 62 was the only one who took action.
Student 62 is a practical problem solver. Student 62 is an independent thinker. Student 62 is affable, but also tough. Student 62 is confident, and I hope that her most recent test score of almost passing will not counter that in any way. In my best judgment, Student 62 has the qualities necessary to succeed in life and in greater abundance than some with higher test scores. Student 62, as, indeed, all of us, is more than just a test score. As Student 62 grows and matures, my bets are that Student 62 will build her own success. If as educators, we can encourage more people to move their smarts into action to help other people, I'm pretty sure it would ultimately prove more valuable than raising a generation of test takers!