Monday, May 5, 2008

I.E.P. Diplomas Mean Squat

At Gus's last CSE meeting, it was mentioned that we have another year before we have to worry about standardized testing. I had asked about it last year as well. It boggles the mind how students in special Education are still required to take these tests. What's more disturbing is that if they don't pass the tests - or at least a certain number of tests - they do not become eligible for diplomas. This means that unless they complete at least an additional year of schooling AND pass a GED exam, they can't go to college or enlist in the military (military being a moot point in most cases anyway, I'd think).

This has bugged me for years, even before Gus was born when I was teaching high school. I worked in an incarcerated setting with children who were navigating the legal system. The last thing on their minds was a Regents test. So almost across the board, they failed and were rendered ineligible for regular high school diplomas even if they avoided long jail sentences.

What is the point of forcing a child who can't sit for thirty seconds, let alone three hours, to take an exam that stacks the cards against them? Years ago there used to be allowances for Special Education students to provide portfolios to demonstrate mastery of the state curriculum, but those have been phased out. It was certainly a fairer assessment tool than the damned standardized tests that are killing our educational system and leaving every child behind.

Test taking does not equal learning. There will be some brilliant kids denied higher education because they can't pass a stupid test, while those who can pass the tests will only have managed to prove that they can regurgitate information at least until that three-hour block of time is done, but not that they can necessarily think critically or assimilate the knowledge beyond the piece of paper with the annoying little circles.

Gus would probably be able to pass the third grade English exam now, if he could actually focus long enough to finish. It's going to be a thorn in my side for sure, but hopefully they can give him accommodations that will actually allow him to show how much he can spit back. No test will ever give a true picture of how smart the kid really is, but if he can get a diploma and go to college, I'll be satisfied with having that knowledge for myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Welcome & I look forward to reading what you have to say. If you'd like to follow the conversation, please subscribe to the post comments. Have a great day!