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!