Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Slice #12- A Measure of Proficiency

Sometimes I remember how, umm, unimportant all of this test stuff really is. 

Take last week for example.

We were only a few days from our state's blessed event. The class had just wrapped up a unit on persuasive writing and we decided to revisit fiction one more time. The prompt the teacher selected was, "Imagine you have just gotten a wish granted. What would your life look like after that had happened?"

I modeled for the kids and we turned them loose. After 45 minutes, I threw the papers into my bag, and brought them home to read this weekend.  They sat in my bag in  the dining room until Sunday night when I got down to business.

L's was one of the first papers on the stack.

L is an English Language Learner who has been in the United States only since August. He lives with his mother and a younger brother. His father remains in Mexico, and L misses him horribly. 

my life changd wen 
I herd a call and I  ansered it was my Dad
he side if we can pecam up from the erport, but
my mom told hem how did you cross 
he sida he snict into 
usa so he caim my mom 
was so exaided she got
the cis and she lift.

when my mom caim back 
she caim wet my dad so
he hagd all of us so he
put hes clos awey and 
went to to slip because
he was toierd.
when he wouckup we 
went to casa bonita and
selibrided togeter as a family. w
 when we wher redy to 
go home we whent to 
the Mall and bot a lots
of stoof like toys, hats,
and showes so I sed to 
my self I never want 
thes to end.

In case you need a translation:
my life changed when
I heard a call and I answered it was my dad
he said he can pick him up from the airport, but
my mom told him how did you cross
he said he sneaked into
USA so he came my mom
was so excited  she got the keys
and she left.

When my mom came back
she came with my dad so
he hugged all of us so he
put his clothes away
and went to sleep because he was tired.

when he woke up we
went to Casa Bonita
and celebrated together as a family.

When we  were ready to
go home we went to the Mall and bought a lot
of  stuff  like  toys, hats, and shoes so I said
to myself I never want
this to end.

My state, and I'd venture, most others, would not consider this a proficient piece of writing. L did write to the prompt. He has what the state would consider a recognizable introduction and conclusion, and a beginning, middle and end. He is writing in paragraphs. As a beginning English Language Learner,  however, L is still trying to figure out the conventions of the English language. Each paragraph is generally one long sentence. L uses capitals and lower case letters intermittently. Almost half of the words are spelled wrong. 

Even so, L has used writing to express something really, really important to him.

And in my mind, that's a pretty good measure of proficiency.


Katherine Sokolowski said...

Sigh - I wonder when we will put more faith in the assessment of the students by their teachers than in the assessment of these tests by folks that have never - and will never - meet these students.

Unknown said...

So profound, which beats proficient in my book, any day. :)

wakeupandwrite said...

I am going to copy this and send it out to my colleagues. I celebrate L and the most wonderfully visualized wish I've ever read. I understood every word without the translation!

Cathy said...

I've decided proficient isn't a word I'd want to be defined by anyway. Proficient wouldn't say anything about L. It wouldn't tell his story. It wouldn't show how important his family is to him or the describe the journey they are on right now. It wouldn't show what he has accomplished in the short time he has been here. It wouldn't really help someone to understand that L can capture the stories that matter. I agree with Kellylou, "So profound, which beats proficient in my book, any day."


Linda B said...

Well, when I get to be the boss of the world, I would say this young man has done more than I have in a while-he's learning a new language-not an easy task for anyone. You should be so proud, Carol, for this accomplishment, & then to trust that he can share his very personal dream/wish with you. No, proficient is not the word I would want to use to assess.