One of my duties as special ed teacher is to read tests to students. In theory, these are students who are labeled and have that as an accomodation in their IEP. In reality, most teachers encourage any struggling students to have their tests read to them, hoping that little perk will give them a boost to make success more likely or possible.
Some students use the bonus of having the test read, even asking me to repeat, slow down, clarify questions. Others, they just take up a chair, maybe filling in bubbles, maybe not. Nodding off halfway through the exam. Not bothering to even attempt the essay questions.
I struggle with the motivation, and lack thereof, of students. At high school level, just the motivation of passing the class, earning credit, and eventually, the diploma, should be a motivator to at least give the exam an honest attempt.
The faces of some students show the defeat as they walk in the door though. They've done so little for so long, not developed study skills to allow them to be successful, given up on themselves and the school, and know failure is in their future.
I like to think deep down they DO care, they do want to succeed. I like to think we've failed them more than they've failed themselves. I like to think there is hope on their horizon.
Of the nine students I read a world history test to this morning, maybe 3 of them gave it an honest shot. One was sure he did well because he studied for an entire HOUR this morning right before the test. Another wrote and wrote and wrote, on every essay question, pouring her knowledge onto the paper fervently. The last of the 3 who looked like they really gave it a shot, at least attempted every question.
The other six.... one slept through most of the test, not even bothering to write his name on the paper. Another finished quickly and insisted she had to go somewhere, and became beligerent when I wouldn't let her leave to wander halls. Another finished quickly, attempting none of the essay questions and sat gazing into outerspace the remainder of the time. Two girls were more interested in writing notes than the test. I took a cell phone away from a student texting during the exam.
Where have we failed them? Where can we un-fail them? How can we make them care?