Monday, May 16, 2005

Testing Belittle Students with Special Needs

Ang eskwelahan kung saan ako nagtuturo ay tinaguriang "School for Science and Math Excellence" dito sa Washington DC. Kahit na sinong taong bumisita doon, mararamdaman ang pagiging outstanding ng junior high school na ito dahil sa dami ng trophies at medals sa bukana palang ng entrada.

Tatlo ang special ed classes dito at tatlo din kaming special education teachers. Hawak ko ang seniors, karamihan ng mga estudyante ko ay nasa grade 9. Mga diagnosed sila with learning disability and emotional problems (tulad ng ADHD o Oppositional Defiant Disorder). Oo nga't nasa grade 9 sila pero ang level lang ng utak nila ay grade 3-grade 5. Bagsakan talaga ang Stanford 9 exams nila, below average lahat ng scores! Talaga namang nakikita ko sa mga estudyante ko na hiyang-hiya sila sa pagiging special ed students nila. Nagtatago sila sa mga kaklase nila na regular ed pag nasa classroom ko sila. Ayaw nila na makikita sila ng mga estudyante na kasabay ko sila na naglalakad. Ganyan kababa ang self-esteem nila.

Sila ang mga bata na gusto kong tulungan. Pero paano?

Etong article na ito, kung sino man ang sumulat nito, bow ako. Makatotohanan lahat ng sinabi nya dito. Nilagyan ko nga ng kopya sa mailbox ng principal ko at sana mabasa niya ko nang magising sya sa katotohanan.

"Middle school media specialist Janis M. Houston says she's both infuriated and ashamed by state assessments. The 26-year veteran educator charges that student assessment tests dishearten pupils with special needs and oppress the poor, but provide politicians with a way to make themselves look better."

READ ABOUT IT HERE: Denver Rocky Mountain News


Ka Uro said...

mam sol, perhaps teaching them gain self-esteem is better than passing any exam. easier said than done, i know.

have you read the books of john holt (how children learn, how children fail). i just thought his unconventional methods might be suited to your class.

nabasa ko yon nung nasa college pa ako (along with Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed). gusto ko rin maging titser kasi noon e. kaya lang sa IT na ako napadpad.

milkphish said...

this is also something that i do not understand. why does the board of education persist on testing these special ed kids along with the regular school populace? i fail to understand the purpose.

i always point out to parents that they cannot judge the quality of the school just by looking at its test scores. if the school's test scores appear lower than the rest, they should call the school to find out if they have special ed classes within their system. if they do, then this simple fact fact alone lowers the average of the school's test scores.

these low-scoring schools suffer because funding is either withheld or suppressed.

my kids are tested yearly using sat-9, and it is one of the difficult standardized tests to take.

Teacher Sol said...

KA URO, I am interested with the book that you mentioned, I self one if the bookstores here still has a copy, siguro bagong edition na. Indeed I am using unconventional methods in teaching the kind of students that I have. How are you doing now as an IT? I am an accidental educator; I was in medicine proper in full scholarship when I realized I was called for this profession.

MILKPHISH, that is what NCLB (No Child Left Behind) is all about, to give the special ed students "equal opportunity" as their regular ed peers. If they're testing at that level, they should be tested too in that level so as they won't feel any different from their peers. But it is setting them up for failure. And I am disheartened by this.

Believe it or not, all Junior HS here in DC scored "Needs Improvement" because they said the special ed students pulled their ratings down. But special ed students are being scored separately from the regular ed. Or maybe I still don't know how this really works because I am new in the system.

They also have similar tests as SAT9 in the Philippines taken only by the graduating classes, grade 6 and 4th yr HS. But here in the US, SAT9 is taken every year level by every student.

I just wish they would come up with a different set of State tests appropriate for the level of every special ed student.

milkphish said...

it is so ironic, isn't it?

bush's 'no child left behind' policy is doing just the opposite.

coming up with a different set of state tests is a good idea, but would probably be cost prohibitive, and this will cost taxpayers money, which will need to be passed in voting ballots, etc...(too much bureaucracy).

when my kids were still attending a regular catholic school, they were tested with ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) and the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning). it was only when i pulled them out of school and started homeshooling that i opted to have them take the more extensive SAT-9.

Teacher Sol said...

MILKPHISH, actually, a lot of advocates are protesting against this law. Just recently, U.S. Education feSecretary Margaret Spellings announced that states that show results under NCLB and adhere to its principles will be allowed to give alternative tests to an additional 2% of their students with disabilities, up from the current 1% cap. Spellings also she would consider giving states flexibility in other areas if they could prove they deserved it. I think that's a good start...they need to be flexible with the ESL and special ed kids because NCLB is hurting them.

Major Tom said...

Hi Sol. Being a teacher is hard alone and yet you have to teach special kids which make it doubly challenging. But with your fervor and patent dedication to your work, the teaching profession becomes even more nobler.

Teacher Sol said...

MAJOR TOM, ginulat mo ako! welcome to my educator's blog....ok ba? Mas recent and socially relevant ito kesa sa DIGITAL BOOK, but I like both blogs, each with a different concept. Thank you for the kind words. People like you who give me recognition for the littlest things I do motivate me to work harder.

rolly said...

I salute you for teaching these kind of students. A good and bright student doesn't really need a teacher... All he/she needs is a guide on what and what not to learn. But special kids... they're something else. It takes a very good teacher to show them the way.

NvyBlu789 said...

Sol, I can really relate to this post about standardized testing. We are at the hilt of finishing up the STAR Tests.

For the past 4 years, I have held an ELD (English Language Development--mostly kids who fluently speak a non-English language at home/come from another country) class, but it's also the chosen Collaborative class.

In our District, they have mandated to fully include RSP/Special Ed students in the classroom for the majority of the school day (no more pull-out sessions). This was a measure taken to satisfy NCLB. It really was poor judgement to jump right into this set-up without fully planning how to structure and implement the collaborative model resource special ed program! It was done in haste to keep federal funding regulations current.

So I have to really juggle both RSP and ELD students in my classroom. The hardest part is the fact that the standard curriculum the District expects me to use is neither tailored for RSP, nor ELD students. A lot of the curriculum is untailored for them. They absolutely cannot do, and they insist on preaching "You gotta have high expectations!" It makes my blood boil for them to turn their backs on what is obvious!

I find that these students are already falling through the cracks, and learn how they inadequately measure up to the standards and norms of standardized testing. But it's beyond standardized testing, it's 180 wasted days of leaving students even further behind because of their expectations of "standards and norms".

It's shamefully oppressive, what the State and District policies deem to be methods to insure that "NO CHILD BE LEFT BEHIND". A lot of alternative methods could be more effective practices for these ELD and RSP students achieve, but not honored/encouraged in the larger public school systems. Our Title I low SES school is supposed to teach math/science/reading/writing in lock-step with the other more affluent communities.

To be quite honest, I feel that people higher-up in the District and State level have really lost touch with the reality of how much deeper the fissures are in the public school system with each year that passes and each test that doesn't fall within acceptable limits.

With all those staff development pep-talks, preaching that "standard assessments drive instruction". I more clearly see that "standard assessments drive destruction". I don't really think they're out there to "fix the system" and gut-out all the rotten ills of education. Maybe it's their way to empower/disempower a certain minority, and to keep the wealth of knowledge & resources within a certain minority elite.

Sorry, I vented too much Sol!! Arrggghh! Out of the 180 school days, I just hate these 5 days of state testing. But I'll get over it!

Teacher Sol said...


Salamat po. Being a teacher of special ed kids requires a lot of patience, compassion and dedication. I hope I don't get too burned out.


I am soooo glad that you found this blog. I was hoping that you'll stumble into it...hehehe. It took you a while so I had to lead you here. But now I am glad. I know you have lots of things to share. You practically wrote an essay, see...hehehe. Anyways, do people in the Board of Educ know how to teach these kids or have they experienced being inside the classroom for like a week with these kids? I guess they're just playing "trial and error" when it comes to the special ed populace, they really do not know what to do with them. I frequent myself in the website of the Council for Exceptional Children because their rules there and other stuff are more realistic and research based when dealing with the special ed kids. It's in my links. Girl, call me when you are coming to Virginia. I would love to meet up with you. I will be there in July for a National Convention too.

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