Saturday, May 11, 2019

Adequate Yearly Progress

In Texas, we have had a pretty contentious legislative session regarding education funding. One of the things still on the table is to pay teachers a salary based on merit. They feel like they need to be getting more progress for the money they are spending. I have many issues with this-students from poorer areas come to school with less experience even in vocabulary than students from the wealthier parts of town. How do you measure "merit" in P.E., Art, early childhood or Special Ed. Our district used to do merit pay and no teachers Pre-K through 2nd were eligible simply because we did not administer standardized tests.

But my biggest issue with this idea is that the majority of the progress my students make in Kindergarten cannot be measured with a test. I had a student this year who entered school with extreme tantrums daily.  Like flipping tables, screaming at the top of her lungs tantrums. We have worked on strategies to channel those emotions when she gets upset and now after using those tools, those tantrums rarely happen-that is progress!

My students entered Kinder being able to copy print-but not able to write a sentence themselves. Now over 80% of them can sound out their words to write and are incorporating sight words spelled correctly. Are they using proper capitalization and punctuation like our standards require-no, but they have made great progress.

The first day of school, when I asked my students to create/invent something new-they couldn't do it. I asked them to invent a new school supply-they all invented pencils. Now, most of them are using their creative skills to come up with original ideas. When we do a writing activity I am so impressed with how different all the answers are now. That is progress!

The first week of school my students rolled their eyes when it was time for a read-aloud. I purposely take trips to the library every week to look for books they will LOVE. I have read them chapter books, picture books, wordless books. We did author studies with books by Mo Willems and Eric Carle. Now they beg to hear books read to them. That is progress!

When I asked my students to choose a side and support their opinion with an argument in the beginning, they answered with what they thought I wanted to hear. After lots of practice with activities in ethics they can now choose a side and defend that opinion. That is progress!

My students were scared to speak in front of an audience. We did reader's theater for other classes and several presentations for our parents this year and now many of them speak with more confidence. That is progress!

My students are growing up in an area of low economic development. Only one student could identify most of their letters on the first day of school last year. The goal our district sets is that they read at a level D by the end of the year, 40 words per minute. Do you know how hard it is to get a student who starts Day One learning letters and sounds to that level? All but one of my students can identify all letters and sounds now. They can sound out words, they can blend sounds. That is progress!

I will never get any credit for any of these things because they are not skills measured with any test.  When they go to 1st Grade those teachers will not think they were prepared enough for their classes. But the I know and the students know the progress they have made this year. I may not be considered an effective teacher by my state, but I do think I have done things this year to enrich the learning of my students and I stand by that.


  1. I would love for my granddaughter to have you for her Kinder teacher!!

    1. oh my goodness thank you so much! That means so much to me. :)