When I was first hired by my district, I had to go to trainings over each of the subjects in our curriculum. I forgot most of what they told me, but a fact shared by the literacy facilitator stuck with me. The state of Arizona uses third grade literacy scores as part of the formula to project the number of prison beds that will be needed when these children reach adulthood (http://www.readfaster.com/education_stats.asp). As a third grade teacher in Arizona, that stat brings tears to my eyes.
My roommate is a nurse, and she's described to me the pressure that she faces every day knowing that a screw up could kill someone. I don't know how she handles that, but this statistic reminds me that our screw ups matter too. Statistically, if a child leaves my room with significant Reading problems, he's more likely to need a prison bed. It is sobering to think that they might buy a prison bed for this kid if I don't help him improve his reading.
I can't think about this fact that much because I would drive myself crazy obsessing over the reality that sometimes kids will leave my room without conquering their reading difficulties. It is good to remember it once in a while, though. I just can't take my job too lightly.