Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Test whiplash

My daughter recently had her three year evaluation by the special education team, and then about a month later got her second report card from her first year in high school. And you know, you could get whiplash from looking at these two items side by side. Because the evaluation gives every indication that this is a young person with very limited potential, skills down at elementary school level, low IQ, poor communication abilities. You'd just cry, reading this, and want to give her a hug and teach her how to weave baskets. And then you'd look at the report card, for a slate of classes that include two resource room, two inclusion, and three mainstream, and you'd see ... four As, two Bs and one C. She's a sweet kid who tries hard and I'm willing to buy that there's a little bit of mercy grading going on, but this much? To this degree? How is it that her skills test so abysmally, yet she's able to pull decent marks in grade-level classes? Clearly she has functional and compensatory abilities that aren't measured on tests. It makes me wonder if the evaluations have any value at all for a student like her, other than to keep her in services. I don't feel like we learn anything at all useful from them. And she comes out of them feeling stupid, to the degree that she can't quite own the greatness of having a good report card. The kind of standardized tests the government places so much stress on don't measure her strengths very well, either. So maybe the report card's the aberration here, I don't know. But I'm putting it on my refrigerator anyway.

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