A school parent asks: ‘What are we doing wrong?’
I recently received the results of my daughter’s California English Language Development Test (CELDT).
According to the results, it seems that she is not doing badly, but she could be doing better. Attached to the test was a letter from the school district intending to explain how to understand the scores, charts and the purpose of the exam.
I looked at the chart more than once. I read the letter translated into Spanish more than once, but it still didn’t make sense to me. For some reason, I had a mix of feelings. I felt, sad, angry, disappointed – but I didn’t quite know who to be mad at or to blame.
I thought of blaming my daughter for not making enough effort in her school work. But then I remembered that she does her homework, reads every night, never complains about school and is always enthusiastic about learning.
Then I thought of blaming her teacher, Mr. Madison, but then I remembered that he is the teacher who offered to tutor her everyday before class when she wasn’t doing well in math. Every time I have needed him, he has been available, either through Facebook, email, after class or before class – no appointment needed. Besides, my daughter loves Mr. Madison.
Then I thought of blaming myself as a parent. I thought to myself, what else can I do? I am involved in my children’s education as much as possible. I attend meetings, donate time, help my kids with their schoolwork, read to them, spend time with them and provide a positive atmosphere at home.
I even took the initiative of choosing English as my children’s primary language (Spanish as a second). We made this decision so that they would not be considered English-language-learners and can therefore stand a chance just like any other kid.
There was a moment when I even thought of blaming El Verano School, where my kids have been attending. But then I remembered how good everything has been there, starting with the our principal who goes beyond the call of duty in providing everything she possibly can for parents, students and her staff.
A few days later, I found myself at Mr. Madison’s classroom with all these questions. As always, he put aside what he was doing invited me to sit down and began talking about what he sees in class, what I see at home and what the state testing is reporting. At the end, I walked out understanding that my daughter is much more than a test. She is much more than a statistic. She is my dream, my reality.
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Mario Castillo is a parent at El Verano Elementary School.