While visiting my son’s school one lazy afternoon in late May, I met the Principal in the hallway. It was a particularly hot day, and the man’s face was very red. His hair looked wet –- I couldn’t be sure if that was from perspiration or an overzealous glob of hair gel. He promptly pulled me aside and said, “Do you know what your son has done?”

These are words you never want to hear from an authority figure.

I knew what he was talking about, though, and it wasn’t bad news. The NC Writing Assessment is given to all 4th, 7th, and 10th grade students and is a make-or-break score for going on to the next grade level. The test is similar to an EOG (end-of-grade) exam, but administered in March because each test must be hand-scored.

Educators don’t give old fashioned A’s and B’s anymore. When report cards come home, they’ve got newly defined achievement levels:
4 - superior (performance considered above grade level);
3 - mastery (performance considered at grade level);
2 - inconsistent mastery (performance considered below grade level); and
1 - insufficient mastery (considered failing).

The Principal was taking the opportunity to congratulate us as my kiddo did very well –- making the highest score in the school and the only Level 4.

I’ve always been proud of my kids, but being a writer, this moment was especially gratifying. Now if I could only get my oldest to turn off the video games long enough to hear me say that ...

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