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A Dispatch from the resistance. . .

Susan Notes: Sometimes reading the papers and listening to the corporate-politics pontificate drain my spirit. Then I get a note like this one, and I know that I must continue this fight.

This teacher works in a district where DIBELS is a high stakes test. And just look at her response. It should make us all proud to be teachers. Studying caterpillars and such should be the work of all kindergartners. Not cramming for DIBELS nonsense.

As I finish the preliminary work in my first year of my Master's program I am taking a break from writing to send you a note.

The final paper for my pilot action research project is entitled "What's Wrong With DIBELS?" (everything). I wanted to write and thank you. I have cited you countless times and used so much information from your website. You are an inspiration and a champion for children.

I also wanted to let you know that my kindergarten class will be performing for the Parent Teacher Organization meeting next month. We are singing Stuart Stotts' "So Many Ways to Be Smart" from the No Child Left Behind - Bring Back the Joy CD. In the final verse Stuart sings "some folks are good at doing their best, though it's hard to measure on a standardized test" - the choreography for that verse is sixteen kindergarteners ripping a DIBELS test recording form! Ay yay yay!
You are cordially invited . . . .

DIBELS is a high-stakes test in our district, and I am doing everything I can to raise awareness about it and advocate for balanced literacy instruction. It is an uphill battle to say the least. Our district has cooked up a "corrective action reading plan" for kindergarten teachers who fail to show 95% of children at benchmark for Phoneme Segmentation Fluency - the plan is yet to be revealed, presumably once our scores are posted in May we'll find out the nature of our punishment.

In my school, kinders are pulled out of the classroom and away from real literature and language experiences for DIBELS "interventions" - the same drill and kill skills practice everyday to boost DIBELS scores.

We are much too busy watching caterpillars pupate and fiddler crabs molt. Last week we found a bat roosting outside our classroom door - one of my students hollered "WAIT - we have to go to the library and get some books so we can learn about it!" - so we dropped everything and that's what we did.

Alas, the next day we found the bat dead on the sidewalk. . . I sealed it in a plastic bag with it's wings outstretched so we could study it for the day before it started to decay. Don't tell the school board.

Next week we're collaborating with fourth-graders to build a bat house so the bats on our campus have a safe place to roost.

Just wanted to share a dispatch from the resistance.

— Liz


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