Third Grade, Second Language, First Problem

, , , | Learning | December 25, 2017

(It’s the end of the year and, in the school where I work, it is the time when we do ‘placement’ exams to see if a new kid is apt to get into the school. This is done pretty much for show, as we don’t turn anyone away, but it also helps us teachers to get to know a student. I’m about to work on said test with a girl from a very remote country where English is the second language.)

Me: *to the girl’s mother* “Hello! Nice to meet you. I will be the one helping [Student] with her test today. And [Coworker] will be working with [Student’s Brother]. What grades are they expecting to start next year?”

Mom: “[Student] is by age ready for third grade, but she is aiming to start fourth based on the exam results.”

(I leave with the girl, fully expecting her to impress me. Her oral communication skills in English are impressive. I sit her down, we talk to calm her nerves, and we start the exam; the first part is just to read words.)

Student: *looks at first word ‘laugh’* “I don’t know how to read that…” *chicken* “or that…” *myself* “…mmmm m nnnnn nnniiii no. Miiiii… no…”

(Alarm bells go off in my head. To shorten the story… the whole exam is torture for both of us. I read most of the questions because she takes minutes to read a single word and by then she has forgotten what the sentence said. Her spelling is incredibly bad, no periods or capital letters, even on her own name. She doesn’t know how to multiply and can hardly add or subtract. Afterwards, I check her grades from her previous school and she is an ‘F’s and ‘C’s student.)

Me: *to Mother* “Well, this is the result for [Student].”

Mom: *not looking at results* “We already ordered the books for fourth grade.”

(I calmly and sweetly explain that I would recommend [Student] repeat second grade.)

Mom: “But, what if we still rather have her in third grade? She has her diploma from second grade already.”

Me: *full of dread* “I strongly recommend she repeats. I can assure you she will feel bad when she sees that her classmates do so much better than she will, and the curriculum is way ahead of her current capabilities.”

Mom: “But… you can’t force me to make her repeat?”

Me: “No…”

(Guess who starts third grade next year?)

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