"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009


For the last three days I have been administering the Indiana state standardized tests or ISTEP+ to students with learning disabilities. These tests are not valid for these students because they do not measure what they claim to measure.

The test maker, McGraw Hill, claims that the test shows what students have learned and provides diagnostic information for remediation.

However, for these students the tests in their disability area are so difficult that they have 1) no hope of passing, 2) little chance of doing well enough to get a score that would provide anything more than a generalized list of their weak areas.

Students with learning disabilities are enrolled in special education because they are not able to perform at "grade level" in their area of disability. The purpose of special education is to provide extra support for the students so that they will be able to learn as much as they are capable of.

Simply put, the standardized tests that we are giving is not appropriate for all students. There is no one-size-fits-all curriculum or test.

Now, when we're not testing it's my job to help students who, while not identified as learning disabled, have difficulty in their classrooms. I help them with reading and writing...sometimes with math. Some of the students I work with are eventually identified as learning disabled and an IEP is written. Others improve with a lot of hard work on their part and on the part of their parents and teachers.

So, the bottom line is this...

I have 33 years of teaching experience, a master's degree in elementary education, a reading endorsement (specialization), and a Reading Recovery certification.

I'm not working with students who need my help because I am busy administering an inappropriate test to other students.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

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1 comment:

Meg said...

Everything you say is true.

I am also incensed because this latest test covers material that isn't taught at that grade level because it's not part of the state standards. We had so many children at school who cried and were frustrated and frightened by the difficulty of the material.

When you have a 5th grade girl who rubs a raw spot on her finger from anxiety, there is a problem here...and it's not with that child.