Friday, April 2, 2010

Why Tests Are Bogus

A lot has happened in the past month. Holland finished all his OAKS testing, did all the testing for his IEP re-eval and we got all the results. This is probably why I haven't posted in almost a month. Hard to believe it's been that long since I've had something to say. I actually have lots to say, but just having a hard time saying it.

Someday when the kids are grown and I have no purpose, my purpose is going to be a parent advocate for parents at IEP meetings. I have 3 years of experience with IEP's on the other end: I wrote them for all my deaf students. I sat in on parent meetings and told of the student's progress. I answered questions about goals and test scores. But that didn't prepare me for what happened at my IEP meeting. After cramming what should have been 8 or 9 hour's worth of testing into 6, I went into this meeting hopeful about help I was going to get to help Holland learn to read. I was going to assert myself and straight out ask for what I needed. I'm kind of an oddity to them, I'm sure. I homeschool my kid and he's on an IEP. No one knows who legally is required to help me. The charter school he's enrolled in doesn't have the resources (no on-site resource teacher) and the district says he's not enrolled in one of their schools to help him. Makes you want to scream.

But the fact that I didn't have someone on "my side" sitting with me while the tester told me that my child is no longer considered "learning disabled" and they want to label him "mentally retarded" was something that I couldn't even comprehend. Who would ever think that this incredibly curious, hard-working, industrious kid would ever test as mentally disabled? She started out by telling me that "she believed the test scores to be accurate and valid". It didn't matter that Holland had never met her, she was 30 minutes late to our first meeting, he refused at first to even cooperate and wouldn't work if I wasn't sitting in the room. The second session was spent playing tag. We went to the tester's school and she came to ours. Fourty-five minutes of waiting for her to show up and then she did more testing. The last day we tested, I had all three kids with me. By the end of the session, he was so wiped out that he refused to go on. She had to bribe him with an ice cream gift card. Then she has the nerve to tell me she believed her results were "valid".

The only thing that saved me was hearing my ES remark that the test he was given for this was not the same IQ test he was given 3 years ago. I was so upset, I didn't even catch that. I immediately said I wanted the same test done. We weren't comparing apples to apples. They wanted me to sign something that said I agreed with their results and we would change the IEP accordingly. Guess what? I refused to sign it. I was bawling almost the entire rest of the meeting (which was almost 2 hours). They kept talking like it was a done deal and at one point I remember saying very loudly that he wasn't dumb and I was not going to let them label him as MR. I said that he's already in the system, why does the label need to change. The director said that it more "accurately describes him" to people that would be reading his IEP for services. I said no it didn't. That any IQ test they gave him would not consider any of the amazing science things he does, or what he builds after he takes something apart. He has working memory problems, probably dyslexia (which they don't even test for) and trouble organizing multiple things in his head. All things needed for reading, he struggles with. I do not believe for one second that this is a child who will never learn more than he knows now. He has auditory processing issues that need to be dealt with that they aren't dealing with.

They started talking about programs in the district that would help him. They want him to be in a life skills class. A life skills class would teach how to tie your shoes, or write your name and address. This would not be an environment that would foster his curiosity, let him explore and create, let him discover things. Here at home I push him. I make him write things that he doesn't want to write. These people probably think I am wasting my time teaching him any math beyond simple addition and subtraction, or reading about history or our science. How could I ever consider putting him in a class like this? It would destroy what learning ability he does have because they would have no expectations. Why would they care if he knew about our solar system, or Lewis and Clark or how to skip count by 9's?

I've researched online about parent advocates for IEP meetings. I still haven't figured out how to get one. But I know that no parent should ever feel what I did when I was blindsided in this meeting. I'm still waiting to hear from the special ed department about further testing. I said that I wanted several more tests done before I'd sign anything (and I still don't have to agree with their label). Everything happens at a snail's pace in the world of education. It's very frustrating that this hasn't been figured out and he's in 5th grade. I keep imagining him in 6 or 7 years and feel like time is running out (or it's already too late) to help him. Books I've been reading say 10 or 11 is pretty much the age that a child's brain connections are all made. We had time up until this point to grow those areas and make new connections, but they are wasting time.

By the time he gets the help he needs, he'll be 18. He'll be 18 and won't know how to read.

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