Russian Books for Kids
Verses Reign in April

Ten Apples, or the Numbers Game

As a first-grade volunteer, I often read with Guillermo last year. A teddy bear of a boy, he was (and still is) always neatly dressed, with his shirt tucked in (unlike my certain people in my house), and speaks with a slight lisp, which just makes him more adorable. Initially self-conscious, he told me that he couldn't read. He could, but not as well as many of his classmates. 

A second go-round in a different first-grade class has helped Guillermo a lot. These days he's a solid reader. Recently I invited him to come share a book for old times' sake; I like to catch up with my friends. On our way out into the hallway, he said,  "Guess what? I'm eight!" He breezed through Ten Apples Up On Top!, using especially dramatic expression during the "We are not/going to let them drop!" part.

"You're reading so well," I told Guillermo.

"I'm a twelve!" he said with pride. 

Having hung around modern-day schools for a while, I knew that "twelve" referred to his DRA (Direct Reading Assessment) level. I wish so much for Guillermo, probably the least of which is that we lived in an era where first graders were not aware of their blasted DRA scores. I know it's trickle-down, but, still.

One day Guillermo will own and run his own business. He'll be very good at it. I can't wait to see him in charge.


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Oh, no! I don't want him to have known his DRA level, either. Ugh. It was bad enough that we had to divide them by random things like colors or animal names, and they STILL all knew that they were being weighted and measured and judged and found either wanting or superior...


Fingers crossed; G. will remember you from this time in his life, and not that stupid number.

Tanita, I'm no fan of techie talk/edu-speak. That's for sure!

From my first-grade teacher friend (at a completely different school), I know that testing the children takes up umpteen hours of teacher time, too. Sure, testing is part of their job, but there seems to be so much of it.

G. is such a dear, capable little boy.

So true. All of it. (Especially the bit about how much instructional time it takes to do the blasted tests...) Most true of all: When G. is 25, he will remember YOU, but not his DRA score. People matter. Numbers...not so much.

People do matter. You are SO right, Mary Lee. I am especially appreciative that I've been able to spend two years with a couple of these children. I may have to follow them into second grade! They're so wonderful, and I want so many good things for them.

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