Whose Expertise Is It Anyway?

Recently I heard the most incredulous piece of a conversation that makes me wonder.

One of my developmentally delayed students – a child who has a very low frustration point, low self esteem, and the ability to either poke himself in the arm with a pencil or bite himself when that low threshold has been reached is slated to be assessed using an alternative assessment (a portfolio-based work called the ALT).

Believe me when I tell you that the special education teachers who put these things together work extremely hard to match goals on students’ ed plans (IEPs) to demonstrated achievement. However, someone higher on the Special Education chain of command recently commented that this child should be taken off the ALT assessment and be allowed to “experience MCAS” – our standardized test here in Massachusetts.

Now I will admit that I was not present during this conversation; it was relayed to me.  If there is a shred of truth to it, I have to wonder “what is the point?” Actually the comment I made when I first heard it was more like, “are you freaking kidding me?”

For I can tell you – I, the teacher working with this student 6+ hours each day – that this student a) is unable to read aa texts, b) is significantly delayed so that behaviors are similar to a 2- or 3-year-old, and c) already self-injures when frustration level is reached. This child is already frustrated with life, himself, and learning in general and doesn’t need a grueling standardized test to confirm that he/she learns differently and at a different pace.

I do not understand this at all. I am frustrated by it. And as the child’s advocate for what he needs academically, I will fight this tooth and nail.

Sadly, I think it will be for naught.

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