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.