Tuesday, October 05, 2010


In most of the county public schools, they have instituted a "100 Book Challenge" to all first through fifth graders.  Why in the world it is called a "100 Book Challenge," at least at Caroline's school, I have no idea as they keep reiterating that it's NOT about the number of books but about the minutes read.  (They get a "step" for each 15 minutes.)  They generally read 1 step in school, 1 at night as part of their homework, and they are supposed to do 2 steps over the course of a weekend.  No big deal.  We've always been a reading family and the kids are accustomed to sitting down and reading with us but now that Caroline can read she's been zipping through the supposedly level appropriate books and reading whatever she can get her hands on in the house.  (She's been tested and retested a few times and keeps going up to the next level.  Although I think she's finally at about the right level as the books are getting a little longer and more challenging.)  Sometimes it's hard keeping up with her reading needs with books that are at her level as we have many books above her level and she's read all the ones below.  I'm waiting to get a big order from Scholastic in very soon that has like 12 books in it!!

Anyway, back to this challenge.  As of today, Caroline is on step 49 which is almost halfway to the monumental 100 steps!  She's ahead of the curve as they only had to be on 35 by last Friday.  She reads an extra step here and there and even has lied to us that Ms. B has instructed them to read additional steps some nights (Ms. B cleared this up for me last week and thought it was funny that Caroline was inflicting more homework on herself.)    Apparently, when you hit the magic 100 steps, you get your name read on the morning announcements, the reading resource teacher comes to your class, you get a gold medal, and generally a big deal is made.  All, very nice.

So you can imagine my surprise on Friday when I went to school with Caroline and saw that a kid in her class had reached the 100 step mark.  And not just ANY kid, the "bad" kid that Caroline had been worrying about all summer.  Turns out A. is fairly difficult but not in a typical way - he's a fairly bright kid but I think just has a lot of problems.  His father is actually an instructional assistant in the school and my impression (and things I was told by another mother) is that his father isn't exactly the best parent in terms of consistency.  But wait, it wasn't just that A. had 100 steps, no, he had supposedly 160 steps!  Really?!?  Mind you there is not a single other kid in the class even close - several are still back near the start while others are around where Caroline is. (And some 5th graders are just hitting the mark, which is much more believable given they can read longer books.)  I just find it very hard to believe that this kid has read that much.  So either someone is recording his reading incorrectly (counting books?) or there is some serious fibbing going on.  The kid can barely sit still in class, I can't imagine he goes home and sits still and reads for an hour each night.  I just can't.  And while for the most part I don't care, I feel in many ways it's a disservice to the other kids in the class playing fair and square.  I suspect maybe it is why Caroline has been wanting to read more than necessary each night - to keep up with A.  He also tends to be a little bit of a braggy type kid too so that makes it worse.  I'm sure that Ms. B is suspicious but I am guessing that this is an "honor system" type activity and since the parents have to sign off for each step, it's ultimately up to his father.  A father who works in the school.

So now I'll be very interested to see how quickly he makes it to 200 and then the final 1000.  Right now Ms. B has her chart on the wall and it's just a laugh to see A's horse all the way out on it's own without anyone even close.  Seriously, if you're gonna let your kid cheat, at least make it reasonable, right?  Idiots.

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