As in other schools, my worth as a teacher is determined almost arbitrarily. My school has students take the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) in September, January, and May to measure how effectively I've gotten them to learn reading and 'riting if not 'rithmetic.
This week, my administrators and the person who facilitates testing stopped to see me. They were both interested in having a couple more kids take and do well on the test. I was confused because I don't much care about unreliable tests that measure very little. But rather than chalk up their interest to rah-rah, go-team nonsense, I came to understand they were looking out for me.
I need to show growth acceptable to the algorithm in order to be rated effective and avoid being put on an improvement plan. Need might be too strong a word. I've been on improvement plans before and they are largely just additional paperwork for my admin. I don't want to be the reason for more work, but I didn't develop this ridiculous system and won't buy into it.
I spend a lot of class-time developing reading skills. I don't teach much of this. I structure time for students to read and take everything out of the way. No book reports or testing. We write a brief note (post-it size) after each day of reading. I talk with kids about their books, but mostly try to listen and get them back to reading. The problems kids have with reading are that there's no backlit screen, they aren't used to staying with something, and teachers usually spoil the hell out of even a good book.
The SRI may measure reading growth or not. I don't give a shit. I know that many of my students haven't read a book in years if ever and when they finish a book they are surprised at what they've done for themselves. I have a few students who have read half a dozen books this year. One has finished more than a dozen after claiming to have never read a whole book.
Today is the last day for SRI testing and the facilitator is back hoping to get a couple more kids tested to prop up my scores. I'm grateful I have people trying to help me, but I hope they won't mind that I choose not to get excited about any of it. I've got more important things to do, like reading my book.