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04 January 2015 @ 06:51 am
More than a number  
As the New Year rolls in, I am constantly reminded of my numbers, especially weight. All of the commercials promising me happiness. And I know more than a few people for whom this number is central to their lives. They measure their success and happiness by it. But now I see too many kids being ruled by numbers. Not weight (though that is an issue since far too many kids have some sort of disorder when it comes to food and eating). No, I am talking about other numbers. ZPD, Lexile, benchmark scores, and the like are turning kids into numbers. It is like a scene out of any dystopic novel is it not? I witnessed it not only as a teacher but as a mother and grandmother when the scores would come in from the latest state assessments or other measurements. Thankfully, I was able to talk to my kids and grandkids about what the scores really told me (basically, they told me how the kid did on one test on one day). But I worry that too many parents do not know how meaningless these numbers are.

Yesterday I posted a list of the Best of the Best. This morning I went online to retrieve the levels and Lexiles for these books. If we go by the numbers, many of the YA books will only be deemed worthy of reading by intermediate grade kids; some books will be deemed as not "rigorous" enough. Here you go: titles followed by levels and Lexiles:

AFTERWORLDS 4.8 690
BEYOND MAGENTA 4.7 600
THE CROSSOVER 4.3 750
EL DEAFO 2.7 420
GIRLS LIKE US 4.0 570
GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE 6.2 910
IMPOSSIBKE KNIFE OF MEMORY 4.7 720
NOGGIN 4.5 60
THE SHADOW HERO 3.2 420
SISTERS 2.4 290
THIS ONE SUMMER 2.4 300
THROUGH THE WOODS 3.3 550
WE WERE LIARS 4.4 600

So, how do we counter these numbers that threaten to take over? Keep talking to parents, colleagues, administrators, and anyone who will listen about how much numbers lie and how little numbers can and should guide reading selections. Rely instead of our knowledge of individual readers and their needs and interests.

But there is one number you CAN pass along to others: the number of years of teaching (classroom) experience of Arne Duncan, David Coleman, Michelle Rhee, and Bill Gates. It does not add up to very much at all.
 
 
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