I got to know John really well because he was in my class 4 consecutive terms. The first term I felt sorry for him. He was a nice kid that didn't seem to have much on the ball when it came to academics. I quickly recommended him for a double period the second term, figuring the extra time would compensate for his lack of ability. This term I got to know him, and his two buddies really well. I learned that their goals in life were to play baseball and to own a surf shop on the beach. I also saw they were bright, just unmotivated. Math did not come into play in either of their areas of interest. But, in spite of this, I still adored John and often went to watch him play ball, taking my own son along to enjoy the game. The third and fourth terms were not much different. He muddled along, passing, but barely.
John graduated from Packemin and went on to a two year community college. In the middle of his third year he decided he wanted to be a teacher and came back to Packemin for observations. His professor even okayed him observing my class although history was going to be his field. Four years after entering the two year college, he graduated. Seven years after his high school graduation, John completed his BA, got his teaching certification and began teaching in a Queens high school. I was so happy for him I even sent him a graduation check. (John's mom worked with me. She told me he framed it and hung it on his wall.) John is now a wonderful teacher and baseball coach, loved and respected by all.
I was reminded of John's story while talking to an old friend this afternoon. John was certainly not college ready when he graduated from Packemin or even in his first few years at college, but he ended up doing well. Kids will become college ready when and if they are ready, and not before. No testing needed.
When John came back to observe me and tell me he wanted to teach in my image I was flattered. Maybe I could have done more for him in the math department but I probably more than made up for it with inspiration, something no tests will ever measure. I am proud of John and proud of me for what I accomplished with him and countless others.