Is there someone out there who truly believes that a child with cognitive disabilities can pass these tests at grade level?

Dear Bill and Melinda,

I as a teacher of Special Needs students have asked repeatedly over the years why my students have to take these tests. Always the same answer-it is the law and we can only have a certain amount not take them, take the alternate assessment, the modified standardized form, all other must take the regular form.I am forced to decide which ones that will be. At the conference I may recommend one form, and then later be forced to reconvene to change it-all because of numbers.

Most of my students are 3-4 grade levels below their peers and others much further below. They are hard working wonderful children who stress out every time they have to take these tests.

They can’t read it, comprehend it, calculate the answers, write enough to make sense, spell well enough to be understood, or follow the directions to complete an essay correctly. I spend far too much time teaching these type of skills at levels too far above them. These students need skills taught to them that they WILL use in the real world.

Now my evaluation will be tied to their results on these tests, and the rest of the school-who I never teach. But that is the least of my concerns.

My BIGGEST concern is the effect I have watched on these students. Yes, it is abusive. The anger, depression, and low self esteem increase every year during these testing periods.

Is there someone out there who truly believes that a child with cognitive disabilities can pass these tests at grade level? Yes, there are some who do-and I am thrilled when they do. I am quite good at knowing which of my students could do this.

As a teacher, we have very little voice in changing this. We are told what we must do. We are threatened when we speak up. And, when we have spoken up, then are words fall on deaf ears and hearts.



About Highlighting Members' Needs

We are running for the following Renton Education Association positions because we believe in the following planks: Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President, Nelsen Middle School, Computer Tech Susan DuFresne, Candidate for Primary Executive Board, Maplewood Heights Elementary, Integrated Kindergarten ✅  Demanding a healthy work-load/life balance. ✅  Bargaining competitive professional compensation. ✅  Challenging the status quo test culture with: Less is more! ✅  Emphasizing our professional expertise. ✅  Prioritizing equity and access for all. ✅  Utilizing 2-way 21st century communication tools. ✅  Acting in solidarity with all unions. ✅  Supporting ALL members. ✅   Implementing developmentally appropriate K-3 curriculum/assessment.
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3 Responses to Is there someone out there who truly believes that a child with cognitive disabilities can pass these tests at grade level?

  1. Lilly says:

    I was an aid in a class full of high school students who were quadraplegics and witnessed a certified teacher test a young teenage girl with multiple disabilities, who could not walk, who could not communicate, who could not feed herself. The teacher had to literally take her own time and her own money to create and prepare various tests to meet the “state’s criteria” for testing, and it took about 4 days for these tests to be videotaped in order for proper procedures to take place. This kind of time was spent for ONLY ONE CHILD, and of course, the results were inconclusive because she could not even pass these simple “object – hand-eye” coordination tests, simply because of her disability. I was stunned, horrified that this teacher had to spend this kind of time…just on one student alone…and there was no way that this child or any of the other 5 teenagers would be able to opt out of state testing. Obsurd, ridiculous, and a waste of a teacher’s time to her other students.
    I am also a mother of a special needs son, who was given an educational certificate when he turned 18 from the High School he attended. He was required to take these tests, although, he had no clue that he was under a state test…he has a 4th – 5th grade delayed development. Is this kind of system, the “No Child Left Behind” really functional with special needs students?? NO!!! My child has been left behind just because of the faulty IEP system that teachers are required to fill out on every special needs student, which is supposed to be individualized for every student, but when a teacher is in a class with 15 special needs students, with various levels of development and needs, then, there is no way an IEP can go into affect. I know this because of the various special needs classes that I was employed in and the I am personally disgusted with this kind of sysytem simply because my son was not given a chance to learn as his disability deemed – his mind was very capable of learning, but he had delayed speech because of Cerebral Palsy, but he was deemed as “mentally retarded” and treated as so, because of his delayed speech…he wasn’t talking until he turned 7 years old. I encourage every educator and the “powers that be” to turn this system of special education to the needs of the children’s ABILITIES, rather than the monies that the state needs in order to feed their system. We are parents of very capable children who are missing out on a deserved education because of all the “paper work” these teachers are required to do to appease the state. My child slipped through the cracks, and he wants to go to college, yet, I will have to teach him up to the point of GED class levels, and then he will have to go for his GED when he is 25, whereas, a CP student, such as my brother, who had the same kind of disability – 30 years ago, received his high school diploma because he was understood and was not forced into the “testing and paper mill” that Special Ed students are now subject to. There needs to be a major overhaul here!!!

  2. Heidi Butkus says:

    No, I don’t believe that most of them can! But it might be reasonable to have them take the tests that match the grade level that they are working at. Maybe there could be a compromise of sorts. If a fifth grade child can only read on a first grade level, perhaps he or she could take a first grade level test?
    I’m sure that this would never satisfy “them” but I thought that I would just throw that idea out there. I, too, feel that this practice of having the children all take these test is a waste of good instructional time, causes low self esteem, and is probably abusive on many levels.

  3. I am a retired special education teacher. I have gone through this agony for many years. I have always felt that this test created so much stress for my students and was not an accurate indicator of any educational growth. Years ago I confronted a visiting state official and asked her how they could force students who were deemed 4/5 years below grade level , to take a test that they could not possibly pass. Her answer was that no one in the state education system knew what to do with these students. As a teacher who had to fight for everything for my students, her answer made perfect sense. I just feel for all these kids who were forced to go through this absurdity.

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