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Unrealistically High Expectations

I’ve been working with a second grader on her reading skills. In NY we have levels to which we judge the reading skills of each student. These can be found in the book. The Continuum of Literacy of Learning Grades PreK-8 A Guide To Teaching By Pinnel and Fountas. Now I’m not all for categorizing students this way but I do believe each level tells us about a student’s ability and their progress/ problem areas.

The challenge I have had with this student is not the students’ progress, but the parents’ negative attitude about what their child can do. They asked me to bring her from a level G to a level M as quickly as possible. The child will be assessed in May and that’s when she needs to prove that she’s ready to move up to the third grade. They want me to move her at least a level per week – so that she is up six levels in six weeks. This is physically impossible and they will not accept anything less than this. So I’ve been working with her for two weeks, she is up two levels. That was the easy part; each part gets harder and harder for not only the child, but for anyone who is tutoring her. The other problem is that one of the parents don’t believe she is progressing and has absolutely no faith in their child. Despite this, I continue to work with this student, throwing encouragement their way and informing their parents of her wonderful progress. Will she be at a level M in four weeks ?– probably not – because my expectations are realistic!

On an endnote, they have hired another tutor to work with the child, because they felt an hour a day, four days a week, plus the drilling the dad does, is not enough.

Please remember: this student is a second grader – just a child. Yes we want progress for them, but we can’t expect a miracle. Hire great, dedicated tutors who will help them strengthen their skills and let them progress slowly. If this child learns too fast they will not retain anything and it will set them back – the same will happen to other children that are pressured this way.

Upward, onward, but at a pace that works for the child, not for their parents.