“… the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” ~Thomas Jefferson
Forty nine states mandate scholastic testing for students under the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) laws. Only California allows a parent to write a note and exempt their child, but the law discourages teachers and administrators from mentioning this to the parents.
Pearlsky has no communication at all. Period. How can she be tested? The “alternate” test for “special needs” students actually extends over at least 45 days (as opposed to two for the “normal” students) and has several MANDATED parts that are absurd.
At the end of a series of instructional activities in which strategies for reinforcement and/or consequences are used, it is important to provide opportunities for a student to evaluate and reflect on his or her performance. …
• One Data Chart
A completed data chart must be included that measures the student’s accuracy and independence in performing tasks on at least five different dates based on a single skill or outcome in the learning standard being assessed.
Data charts must show that the student attempted to learn a new skill. Therefore, data charts will not be scored when they indicate that the student’s performance started and remained at 80-100% accurate and 80-100% independent throughout the entire data collection period.
This part is so ridiculous, here is a screen shot of one requirement for the special needs version of the state testing to pass …
OK, so things are ludicrous. I do not want my daughter subjected to this testing. To ask her questions, when she very well may understand what you are asking, yet not be able to do anything about it, not be able to answer, is actually cruel. The entire concept is outrageous.
So, we even went to the state house and met with the leaders of the state.
The punch line? Nothing. No one has a solution, no one will let her out of testing. But here is the rub …
The state supreme court has upheld a student’s right to not take an exam. A student can go into school, even hand out brochures, explaining why s/he refuses to take a test. This is a right, as long as the student is not disruptive. Then the school must accommodate the student’s wishes, so the student stays in the library or something. This makes sense since you can’t really tazer the student, well, at least you shouldn’t … Note that the student will suffer the consequences of getting a failing grade, whatever they may be.
So, why can’t I say that my daughter does not want to take the test? No one will let me. The teacher will administrate it anyway since “she must.” (Yeah, “just following orders” … I know) Where as a “normal” student would be given a blue book (do they still use those for answers?) and they can just sit there, my daughter would be asked questions. Hence, the teacher takes an active part, not a passive one.
Simple question: Why can a “normal” student choose to opt out of the exam, yet my “special needs” student cannot? DOES SHE HAVE FEWER RIGHTS THAN THE ABLE BODIED? Well, yes.
(hey, this is my 100th post)
On a less glib note, what is to force your daughter from entering the school premises on test day? I seem to recall you having an idea to the effect that you’d stand outside the school with Pearlsky, handing out buttons that say “Leave My Child Behind” and brochures explaining why you are protesting. They can’t “give the blue book” to a student who is not in school.
Of course, if testing is 45 days, I guess that would put a crimp on your business life.
Alternatively, insist she take the non-special test, the one with the blue book, so she can protest by not writing anything in it.
I feel like we’ve gone over these ideas in the past – are we going in circles?
If nothing else will work, litigation may really be your best option. The idea of special ed kids not having the option to protest is pretty compelling.
Ugh…this is so stupid. You see just how far away from the real world some rule makers are.
The more I think about it, the more I’m flabbergasted.
It is ridiculous. Is there anyway you can be her advocate as you are permitted to be on other issues as she is disabled?
Geez, you got the legislators and Pearlsky all wearing matching colors, you’d think you could get a waiver alternative implemented!
Equality does not mean treating everyone the same way, this is what legislators fail to understand.
Yikes. This is even more stupid than the truancy note I got for Sophie yesterday that I am posting about tomorrow. All I can say is that at best it’s amusing in a fucked up sort of way.
And congrats on the 100th post. You’re awesome.
I agree with Elizabeth — you’re awesome.
This whole thing seems completely FUBAR to me. From what I’ve read, the IDEA legislation is designed not to protect a disabled student from being tested, but it ensures that they are not denied the opportunity to be tested. Uhh, ok, so it’s basically doing NOTHING for the severely disabled and implies that if you’re *that* disabled, you shouldn’t be in school in the first place; which is total horse shit (sorry about the language).
Absurd: wildly unreasonable, illogical or inappropriate.
It would be even amusing, if it was a literary piece and not a real snippet of your life. Bunch of clowns.
Happy 100th post! I’m also a fan 🙂
Nice to see a photo of Pearlsky.
I’m wondering how much you can actually control at school – ?
As much as I agree with the idiocy of implementing the regulation, I’m surprised at the precious effort used to influence something that can well be ignored. Just saying.
I am in the special ed trenches as a professor and program director of a special ed grad program. I also work with school districts all over the place and thousands of teachers. This issue makes teachers ALMOST as crazy as it does parents. It is craziness for sure. Are you legal guardian for Perlski? If so you should be able to opt out in her behalf. This issue seems so assanine to me that I don’t want to give it the benefit of much effort at all when there is so much effort needed elsewhere in this arena. So can I talk about one of my favorite special ed subjects? If the answer is no, read no further. Transition! Does your daughter have a robust and realistic yet hopeful transition plan? If you want information on the laws surrounding this legislation check out my grant;s website: http://www.seattleu.edu/ccts I will relate this to the discussion of your state performance test. Legislation mandates that all students with IEPs must, by the age of 16 (14 in some states) have a transition plan that includes goals for life after high school for employment, education or training and, when appropriate, independent living. So just yesterday I got a call once again from a school district that said that they have a 16 year old that has such severe disabilities that she will never, ever work or live independently. Why, they wondered, do they have to write these goals? The answer is that a teacher has a different perspective if they are working towards a goal (in five years!) of “participating in a community setting employment training program with a coach” than if the goal was “can’t ever work, ever do anything.” Even if the post-school goal is never met the teachers may work differently thinking about life after high school than simply making it through a day of caring for this child. The same idea drives some of the craziness around state performance testing. Before NCLB kids that pulled down state and local test scores simply didn’t have to take the test. And principals and school boards didn’t really give a rip about these kids because they didn’t impact their standing with either the community or their funding. All that has changed now that we have “those kids” at the table. Gen ed teachers have to figure out how to teach them AND get them up to speed in grade level math, etc. etc. BUT there is the caveat that 1% of the students will not ever be able to take any type of test. I think that percentage is higher and that your daughter is one of those children that should not be submitted to this assessment. Let’s see how she is doing toward her annual goals, which I hope are very relevent and exceedingly transparent to everyone in her life. Annual goals might be communication skills using a switch or eye gaze to indicate likes and dislikes with the emphasis on preparing her for life after high school. Okay, sorry about the rant. I should be reading my students papers about inclusion! Now that’s another story!!! Your blog is great, congratulations on 100 posts and take care of yourself while taking care of your precious child.
Cinda and I think alike.
Reminds me of how I formed the attitude of treating every child as if they will graduate – with one girl who was supposed to die before age three, and was laying in a classroom in a middle school.
Also, as standardized testing was started amid much controversy in this state (brought to us by sameaswhobroughtNCLB) a teacher’s story influenced my opinion. Similar to what Cinda said, the teacher reported that students that were formerly ignored were now given attention.
I’ve held back asking more about Pearlsky’s communication, Cinda’s questions lead me to wonder if every potential has been explored – ? Inasmuch as you say, SD, that many agree she understands similarly to a 6-year-old….
I spoke to a teacher who works with disabled children in our area. What they try to do is to use those test days to assess what should go in the IEP for children who do not have the ability for academic skills. In the case of a child like your Pearl, the question becomes what should be the goal each year. Am interested in that subject if you can maybe do a post on that.
It is a fact of life that some folks are not going to “improve” in their capabilities. There are folks who have degenerative issues where the goal is to provide some help in dealing with the loss of abilities and how to best use what is left. In the case of Pearl, she is not changing. What should be in her day of instruction?