I don't brag about my students enough, so this here's a braggin' post.
We have a reading program called Accelerated Reader (both Courtney and I used this program in elementary school). The students read a book, then take a computerized comprehension test. The program assigns them a certain number of points based on the reading level, length of the book, and how well they did on the test. It's a phenomenal way for me to track what/how much they are reading, as well as how well they're understanding it. It's also a great motivation tool for the students. It's primarily used by 3rd-6th grade at our school.
Today I was looking at our school's "dashboard" and saw that my fifth graders are averaging 28 minutes of reading a day (almost all of it done outside of school) compared with 21 minutes by the fourth grade (of which I teach 15), and 11 minutes per day in sixth grade. My 38 students have read a total of 9,000,000 million words this year - the school's total is 17,000,000.
We're making lots of progress, and it's exciting. It astonishes me more and more that there are those who believe students like mine aren't as capable or somehow don't deserve as much as students in wealthier communities. An excellent education should be a RIGHT for all children in this great country.