In the last class of the day today there were a couple of kids absent and several who were pulled for a meeting with the Gifted Coordinator. That left me and seven sixth grade boys. Tomorrow we are administering a reading test, the results of which will help determine whether kids take a foreign language next year, or continue on with reading, and I gave them the same spiel I had delivered to all of my classes. "A standardized test is like a snapshot..." I started.
My point to the kids was that there's no shame in doing their best on the test and finding out that it would help them to postpone taking another language for a year, but it would be a shame for them to blow off the test and miss out on the chance at a high school credit. I also reminded them that if they did take a language, then their grade would be important when they applied to college.
This group was confused. "What do you mean "apply"?" asked one.
"Well," I answered, "colleges don't have to let you go there. They get to choose who they want based on an application that you fill out.They look at a lot of things, but they definitely look at your grades."
"Whaaaaaaat?" said another student. "You can't just go somewhere?"
I shook my head.
"Did you go to college?" somebody asked.
"You can't be a teacher without a college degree," I shrugged.
They were unusually quiet for a moment, but then the silence was broken. "Let's get to work!" one guy suggested, clapping his hands in encouragement, and it was a very good class.