Flip Tha Script

Of course when lacking inspiration I find myself returning to that old saw, test prep. I'm in my second week teaching in the after school program. Whereas in a different community or perhaps a different era altogether, after school programs were dedicated to extracurricular and enrichment activities, after school programs in the NCLB era mean one thing: test prep.

Many schools, including mine, use scripted, remedial programs. Some research supports scripted programs - they structure a lesson around best practices and provide a teacher with critical thinking questions. The problem with some of these programs, as I've experienced them, is that while they offer some suggestions for differentiation, they're still more or less one size fits all.

My students after school, most of whom are from my class, represent the lowest performers of the 3rd grade. That means they include non-readers and most of the students are English Language Learners. So this presents some challenges using a scripted program with a standardized test prep book. The passages are too difficult for my students, they can't read the test questions that follow either, and the critical thinking questions provided are in language that's inaccessible as well.

Is the program I'm using a good tool for getting kids ready? Probably. Is it the right tool for my students? Not at this point. The question is whether I can alter what I'm working with, or if I should try to start from scratch.


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