Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Take your test scores and.....

Anyone who has a child with special needs has been down the path of testing your child.  The reasoning behind the testing is something like this, “We must test your child so we can see exactly where they are to provide the best education placement possible.”

Having been a former Special Education teacher, I kind of get this thought process.  However, having been a former Special Education teacher, I also know that the test scores don’t give me the complete picture of the child.  I needed to work with the child, talk with the child, observe the child, etc.  The test scores played a very small role in the overall picture.  

And yet….
there is so much emphasis placed on test scores.  You want to label my son, who has multiple disabilities which makes testing him very difficult, and tell me how successful he will be based upon these scores that aren’t normed for a child who has fine motor issues which cause problems with timed tests or vision problems.  

When S started school, we didn’t know for sure how much of an impact his CP and vision issues had on his intellectual development.  We were also dealing with the fact that English was not his first language.  He was adopted from Bulgaria at the age of 4.  Fortunately, we were working with a team that understood all of this.  Just in case they didn’t, I had printed multiple articles off of the internet addressing the issue of testing children who were adopted internationally.  

there is always one person in the meeting who thinks the test scores are “it”.  That person, in this particular meeting, was the school psychologist.  She started spouting numbers like they were written in stone.  I, of course, had already flipped through all the pages to see what the end results said, and it wasn’t pretty.  Had we placed S in an educational program based upon these numbers, we would not be talking about him getting ready to graduate and going to college.  I would not be blogging about his love of History and Foreign Languages.  I would not tell people how he is currently taking German IV and took a year of Russian.  

the rest of the team just wanted a baseline from which to work.  There was no question about his intelligence from them because they had all worked with him individually.  The test scores allowed them to check the box that said they had tested him.

We know that we were lucky to have the overwhelming majority of the team on S’s side.  They wanted to see him succeed academically.  They pushed him to do the best he could in school. The director of Special Education asked me one day if they were pushing too hard.  
“We just want him to be successful, and we don’t want him frustrated.”  
“Oh, you will know if you have pushed him too hard.  It will be VERY clear.”

And then,
we moved.  He was tested again.  

And then,
we moved again.  He went through a triennial review which is hours of testing.  

And then,
we decided to homeschool and that testing stopped.  How nice!  No numbers swirling around anywhere trying to determine what my child can or cannot do.  No numbers trying to dictate his future or educational placement.  

Because we homeschool, we do have to test him at the end of every school year to show progress to the state.  

The numbers are just that….numbers.  They don’t tell me anything I don’t already know.  He has a very strong vocabulary.  He doesn’t do as well with grammar (commas are not his friend).  He does well in long as he writes the problems out and doesn’t try to solve everything in his head.

But now,
as we prepare to send him to college there is a great deal of emphasis on “THE TEST” whether it is the ACT or the SAT.  

in order to get the accommodations S was going to require for either of these tests, we needed current testing data on him. We took him for psychoeducational testing.  So, he had to be tested before the test.  Is that as clear as mud?

Again, the results did not tell us anything we didn’t already know.  Every accommodation that was recommended was exactly what we had told the psychologist he would need.  [I am not hacking on this psychologist.  We brought S in there for this exact purpose.  This doctor was very nice and understood exactly what we were trying to do.]

In the end,
we decided that S would not take the SAT or the ACT. Taking the ACT or the SAT is not going to prove to anyone how well S will or will not do in school.  Only by working with him, talking to him, watching him, understanding how much time and effort he puts into his schoolwork will anyone understand how successful he will be.

he will take the placement tests at the community college which is where he will start school in the fall.  We are hoping this will be done in the next 2-3 weeks.  He is working to get his accommodations in place at this point. This is a much easier process and less stressful for him.

you can take your test scores and……find me on the couch with chocolate.

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