School starts in less than a week, and I’m actually feeling pretty good about it. I am completely refreshed from an awesome summer of travel. Since the beginning of last week, I have been reporting to the building to work on curriculum and hash out upper school policies with the rest of the 9th and 10th grade teachers. I am very excited that it looks like we are going to have strong administrative support from Day 1, and systems in place for making sure we have a much stronger level of classroom culture and discipline. I’m personally trying to make sure I have all my T’s crossed and I’s dotted on Day 1, so that I can have a much more successful, much less stressful year.
The HSA scores came back a couple weeks ago, and I am very happy to report that disaster was averted. Ultimately, 28% of our students passed the HSA. This is not a number I am proud of in absolute terms, but it is 2% better than the city average. And it’s pretty darn good, in context of the fact that for most of the year, we made due with barely half of the instructional time in Algebra I of the typical school. I demand better performance from myself, but it has been redeeming to get acclaim from people who know how hard I tried and what roadblocks had to be negotiated.
In the results, there were some surprises. Some students who goofed off all year put up exceptional scores, and one kid who barely showed up 2nd semester even passed. It just goes to show what these kids could accomplish if we could get them invested in their educations. I also had some bright kids who put up disappointing numbers. But for most students who didn’t pass, it wasn’t too hard to think back to blocks of misspent time that might have made the difference. Hopefully it will be a lesson learned.
The goal now is to get as many of the remaining 72% over the hump for the next testing session. Students who do not pass the test after by their junior year go on to be enrolled in the dreaded HSA Bridge Plan, the bane of all schools. Basically, it involves kids being pulled out of classes to complete massive algebra work packets, and it throws schools into instructional chaos. Undoubtedly, some of my students will end up having to do this, but minimizing this number will be absolutely crucial.