Last year I had a student who found school difficult. Sure, he had learning difficulties, which I and my school took measures to address, and by the end of the year he had made improvements. However, these improvements were not great enough to meet the standards in reading, writing or maths - he was below the standards, but not well below.
His parents are aware of his difficulties, and we have spoken about them together at two parent interviews and on some other occasions. They knew before they got his report at the end of the year that he was unlikely to meet the standards.
A colleague of mine is a friend of this student's mother. Today this colleague sent me this facebook status form the mother:
Ok teachers out there please give me an insight into the stupid idea of this national standard bull****. My kids reports came home at the end of year and clearly stated on the page of this report is a grid that ever so nicely puts yours kids national standard level in. My sons report states that he is below the national standard line. Now I struggle very hard to understand how a school can put something like that on a report that the child is of course going to read and now my son has spent the past 3 weeks and will spend the rest of his life telling me how dumb he is!!!! AWESOME for the confidence of the kid aye?? It is something that should be talked at, at parent interviews not for the kid to see. Im horrified and deeply upset as my sons morale is dead. He thinks he is dumb. Thanks New Zealand Education system you have ****ed up yet again! And for the record my son is amazing and is not dumb!!!I hate being forced to give kids these labels that they will carry with them for years. This was one of the biggest problems I have with the National Standards, and I remember having this conversation with many people years ago.
I have been thinking about how to respond to this, or even if I should. And to be honest, I'm struggling. For the record, I do agree with her on most of these points. He is an awesome kid, but he does take things to heart easily, and needs to develop his resilience. There are lots of great things about this student, and I have told his parents that, and wrote about them in his report.
He does not deserve to spend next year, and possibly beyond that, thinking that he is dumb. No kid deserves that. I don't have all the answers and solutions, but the Nationals Standards in their current form are not it either.