Upon reading it, I was shocked! I had no idea.
I was staring at the FCAT results of a local elementary school. If you’re not familiar, the FCAT is the state of Florida’s standardized test for all elementary schools. Every student is required to pass with efficiency to move to the next grade level.
My attention is focused on the Literacy (Reading/Writing) results. The sheet displays the projected proficiecy (72%) for this particular school, and the current proficiency (60%). As my eyes scan to the right, I see the proficiency level of 8 distinct ethnic/subgroups. This is where I’m caught off-guard.
Here’s the breakdown:
Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
n/a n/a 26% 57% 72% 27% 12% 45%
My heart sank.
Bases solely on the information in front of me, I see students who face a struggle not their own. For some, the odds are against them. By the mere fact of a group they are born into, the statistics say they will fail.
With no answers, I turn to Psalm 129 to express a lament for our students.
“Often has the system attacked our students from their youth”
—let God’s people now say–
“often has the system our attacked our students from their youth,
yet it has not prevailed against them.
The cities have been built on their backs;
they made their buldings high;
The LORD is just;
he has cut the chains of the oppressors.
May all who hate our students
be put to shame and turned backward.
Let them be like the grass in the scorching Florida sun
that withers before it grows up,
with which the growers do not fill their hands
or collectors their arms.
while those who pass by do not say,
“The blessing of the LORD be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the LORD!”
Whatever the reason for the proficiency gap, may God hear our cry.
Protect our students, God. Free them from the grip of oppressive systems. Rescue them from circumstances and stereotypes that seek to hold them down. Remove any barrier that stands in their way. Resurrect in each student a confidence in themselves as one created in the image of your intelligence.
May your people be instruments of liberation for the education of our youth. May your people not stand by and watch from a distance. Show us what to do. Give us new imaginations for tomorrow. Lead us to inspire hope. Empower us with the courage to never give up.