Yesterday, while at Emma’s school, her teacher showed me a sample of the state assessments that Emma is required to take, though there were record numbers of parents this year who protested them by opting out. These assessments are done twice a year and take an enormous amount of time and energy from all involved. The page the teacher showed me was about Ronald Reagan. It was a series of facts that are read and then the student is supposed to choose the correct answer from two choices related to the facts just read. I decided to use the page as an example of why I so vehemently object to these state required assessments as they are currently laid out.
I read the facts to Emma and then asked her to give me the answers by saying the correct answer out loud. This is how the test is typically done. Emma chose the last choice to each question every single time. I then said, “Okay. Now let’s do this using your letter board. I asked the same questions, only this time, offered her the letter board and without any hesitation she got 100% correct. I then asked her to circle the correct choice and she was able to do that too, which was interesting to see.
We did not go over more of the assessment, but for all those students who are like Emma, these assessments are useless. They are not telling anyone anything helpful. In fact they are giving inaccurate data. If Emma had not been given the opportunity to learn to communicate using a letter board, she would have no way of proving she knows the correct answer. How many children are just like Emma? I do not believe for a second she is the only one who cannot say what she knows, but if given appropriate accommodations would be able to.
It is incredibly frustrating to have the state require her to take such assessments, which, as they are currently written, do not accurately assess what she is capable of. This is my biggest objection with so much that is done when it comes to autism. Far too often the current conversation is by people who are looking at things, similar to these assessments, and basing their beliefs on the information they are getting from them. Incorrect information that tells us nothing of what a child is actually capable of. Assessments, that in fact are assessing nothing. What is being learned? What a massive waste of time and money. We should be doing better. Our children deserve better than this!
*We are hoping to have the video of Emma’s presentation at CoNGO up on the blog tomorrow!
April 9, 2014
Posted in Autism, Education, New York City
Tagged autistic, Board of Education, BOE, communication, Department of Education, DOE, Education, literacy, New York State, non-speaking, Parenting, presume competence, reading, RPM, SANDI, special needs, Speech, State Assessments, writing
This is a letter Emma wrote yesterday to her teachers.
I would like to teach you how to use a stencil board so that I can show you how much I know and so we can discuss what you are teaching me in class.
I want to learn both syntax and style of diverse writers. Poetry and prose both interest me. I love to write stories and welcome the opportunity to do so.
You try to teach me, but not in a way that I can learn. Try to learn what my mother has learned from Soma and change how you think about autism.
Addition and subtraction are fun, but I have been doing that for many years and numbers are easy for me to understand. It is boring to do the same thing over and over all the time.
I do not like school and I wish I could go to a regular school where I was treated like other kids.
After Emma wrote this letter I sat with my husband Richard, clutching the three pages it took to contain these words that Emma wrote, pointing to one letter at a time on her laminated letter board. I asked Emma if I had her permission to read her words aloud to her dad, she nodded yes and then said out loud, “on the blog.”
Education for our kids, whatever their neurology, is something every parent worries about. Our schools are buckling under the weight of mismanagement, bureaucracy, out dated and irrelevant standardized test requirements, politics, and the diverse needs of our children, make any one-size-fits-all method of teaching impossible.
I don’t have any answers, but I intend to get some.
To anyone who has successfully gotten their non-speaking child (or a child like Emma who is able to speak, but says things they do not intend) into a “regular” school, please contact me and let me know how you did it. Does your child have a one-on-one aide? Did you train the aide yourself? Do you do RPM? Did the school work with you? If they didn’t, what did you do instead? Any and all experiences are welcome. You can also contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Session With Soma
Posted in Autism, Education, School
Tagged Autism, autistic, Board of Education, BOE, Department of Education, Education, letter board, non-speaking, Parenting, politics, Rapid Prompting Method, RPM, school, Special Education, unintentional speech