Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Another Report from the First Grade Trenches

D-Ed Reckoning: Report from the First Grade Trenches

Seriously if you don't read KDeRosa's blog on a daily basis, you are missing the best commentary in edublogging on the net. Enough kissing ass.

Since I also have a first grader, I thought I would compare my child's school experience with KDeRosa's.


In math, for example, they've only taken home about three homework assignments. One assignment asked them to draw pictures of things having numbers, like a clock or calendar. Another asked them to find a picture that told a math story--there are three dogs and two cats in this picture, how many are there all together.
In math, I think our school does a little bit better. We get about 3-4 math worksheets a week. It started out pretty basic the first two weeks, but quickly improved. Last week, all of her worksheets were on addition and subtraction. She seems to have quite a good grasp of the subject, so I have no complaints yet.


I hesitate to call what's going on reading since there is so little actual reading going on. The kids were given a DIBELS test and broken up into reading groups. Whether they were broken up by ability, I do not know. Teaching consists mostly of letting kids pick out books they like and letting them "read" them independently. If the kids can't read yet, they can look at the pictures. That's nice.
Our child is assigned 10 spelling words a week to learn. The words correspond with the words in her weekly reading story. She really stuggles with her reading, and seems to have no concept of phonics. Her teacher appears to be teaching her how to sight read. Unfortunately this means that she struggles with new words.


We aren't very happy with her teacher overall. I have been to the school several times and the teacher gives the impression of being unorganized and very inexperienced. Reading homework has been especially difficult, and often ends up with us getting very frustrated. While I am satisfied with her progress in math, I suspect its mostly due to innate aptitude instead of sound math instruction.

We do supplement her instruction at home, but we are nowhere as organized as KDeRosa nor are we able to spend the amount of individual time that he does.

Booo Yaaaaahhhhh

Girlfriend talks to district. Principal gets call. Dr. Counselor gets call, fixes problem, and apologizes.

Now wouldn't it of been much easier for him to hook us up at the beginning instead of having to get "talked to".

Also, niece is allowed back on cheerleading team. One rebel teenager turned into all american girl. We rock!


Bait and Switch

In my last post I said this: "I had to raise hell to get her enrolled in honors and college prep classes."

It appears I wrote to soon. When we got the hardcopy of my niece's schedule yesterday after school, she was NOT put in honors classes, despite Dr. Counselor looking me in the face and telling me that she would be.

My niece had some bad thing happen to her as a child that are still with her today. She is on daily med's to help her. The first semester of her freshman year she got into some "trouble". She was sent to us for her 2nd semester of school. Because we knew she was smart, we got her into honors classes despite her having terrible grades at her last HS. This is the results:

1st Semester Grades (She was absent most of the semester)
Math 69%
English 73%
NOTE: they actually gave us the highest "F" possible out of pity

2nd Semester Grades
Honors Algebra II 96% with a 98% score on the end of year exam -- year average 86%
Honors English 95% with a 100% score on end of year exam -- year average 87%
Honors Biology 82% with a 81% score on end of year exam -- year average 83%
NOTE: She wasn't in Biology in her first semester so her score on the exam reflects her literally only having 1/2 the course and having to teach herself the first half of the class!

With scores like this, we think that it is perfectly reasonable for us to expect her to have honors classes this year. It wasn't her or our fault that she had to attend another school for the first semester. She actually only got to attend 3 weeks of class at the school before she was allowed to sit out. (Long story, the situation was caused by lax parenting and a pyschologist that is ready to make any diagnosis that a parents asks for)

This is a school that serves a majority of disadvantaged students. Our niece, with the right parenting, can be a true success story at their school, but only if they help us help her.

Note: Not that it matters, but our Niece is Hispanic, so having her do well will also help them show that they are making gains on the "achievement gap"

Right now, my girlfriend is at the district office ready to raise hell with the district superintendent if that’s what it takes. I hope this gets fixed, because they have no idea the amount of fury that she can rain down on someone if they mess with our kids.

I have tried to avoid naming schools and people on this blog, but I have never been so tempted to identify the perpetrators.