Fourth-graders who failed to achieve reading goals had their faces scribbled on with permanent marker by other students last week at Declo Elementary School — under the supervision of their teacher....
When Cindy Hurst’s 10-year-old son arrived home from school Nov. 5, his entire face, hairline to chin, was scribbled on in red marker — including his eyelids. He also had green, red and purple scribble marks over the red, and his face was scratched by a marker that had a rough edge.
“He was humiliated, he hung his head and wanted to go wash his face,” said Hurst. “He knows he’s a slow reader. Now he thinks he should be punished for it.”
It gets worse. The face-scribbling took place in the morning, and the marks couldn't be washed off. Some of the graffiti'd students -- nine and ten years old -- had to ride home on the bus with middle school and high school students, who humiliated them further.
Ms. Larson evidently has twenty-one students in her class. Of those, nine students failed to reach an Accelerated Reader (AR) points goal (more on AR later). The "failures" were given the choice of staying "inside at recess until the goal was met, or have their faces written on by their classmates who met their goals."
What was Ms. Larson thinking, to allow some of her students to humiliate and shame others in the class? These are nine and ten year olds! The Magic Valley Times News reported that some of the students have "learning problems" -- of unspecified type. Are some of the nine children with identified disabilities that interfere with reading speed?
I want you to pay attention: almost half of Ms. Larson's class did not meet Accelerated Reader goals. Surely that is a commentary on Ms. Larson's teaching skills and classroom management, rather than the students' failure.
A teacher who allows her students to shame and embarrass each other is not behaving professionally. I wonder what help (if any) the slow readers in the class are getting.
Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer-based assessment system of student comprehension of some 25,000 books ranging in reading levels from grades one to twelve.
First, the AR computer assessment system (called STAR) determines a student's level of reading comprehension, yielding a norm-referenced score. Reliability and validity data for STAR are not provided. The student is placed in a "zone of proximal development" (ZPD) that represents the predicted upper and lower ends of independent reading level. Unlike the Vygotskian term ZPD, AR does not support readers in the construction of meaning.
Students then self-select from books that have been coded by readability level. Readability is calculated through traditional formulas that count words and syllables. Once students have completed reading a book they take a 10-20-item literal-level comprehension test. The management system provides the percentage scores to students, as well as to teachers and librarians, who may then advise students on further choices for reading.
Students are rewarded for reading and performing well on tests by gaining points (determined by the readability level and length of a book). Students gaining many points may be rewarded with prizes.