Hacking Away at the GAA

17 Nov


Next week we’re into Thanksgiving Break and then 3 more weeks to Christmas.  Today I made a mad dash for completing a large chunk of Taz’s GAA and it took most of the morning just for the half dozen tasks I had set up.  Some turned out better than others.  I got about 90 pictures and about 30 minutes of video.  I quickly got the idea that still pictures were going to give me more flexibility as far as how the story is told. 


And let’s be honest, here.  We’re telling a story.  The idea that Taz is working on the 11th grade level with 11th grade materials is ludicrous beyond words.  I’m still trying to teach him how to wipe his own bottom.  I’m going to use at least one video, just to give evaluators some idea of what we’re dealing with.  But I’m wondering if they will even care about the hours of work put into trying to adapt 11th grade literature for someone functioning on a 3 year-old level.



6 Responses to “Hacking Away at the GAA”

  1. Alexander's Daddy November 19, 2006 at 4:27 pm #


    How do you balance protecting Taz’s human dignity and getting across to the state how ludicrous the GAA is for an individual functioning at Taz’s level? Even if Taz doesn’t comprehend or care about his dignity, should we who do understand it have an obligation to protect him?

    Which is more important if you were Taz?

    I’m not trying to be provocative, I think this subject is a very hard one to figure out.

  2. Alexander's Daddy November 19, 2006 at 4:33 pm #

    Sorry, but another question. Wouldn’t it be a monumental task for the education authority to try and decide where the proverbial line in the sand is? First off, I don’t believe in these type of assessments to begin with, but if the powers that be have convinced themselves that this is what should be done, how do you educate them on where to draw that line.

    One reason why private schools show such great test results is the fact that they get to chose whom they have as students (cherry picking). Should we allow the public school system to do the same? Again, I don’t know the answer to this one either.

  3. bj November 20, 2006 at 12:22 pm #

    To Alexander’s Daddy’s question “Where do you draw the line in the sand?” — perhaps common sense? I think Dick’s illustration here is exactly what doesn’t make sense in laws that are written by commitee to deal with individuals.

    Someone was worried about the “loophole” that underperforming students could be classified as disabled, and thus drop out of the assessments of progress. Clearly, that’s a real problem, and has been used throughout public school education to deal with hard-to-educate students by ignoring them. But, since they didn’t know where to draw the line, they drew it somewhere that patently makes no sense, like Taz & learning an 11th grade curriculum.

  4. JKJ November 22, 2006 at 7:06 am #

    I am doing the GAA on 5 students, most of whom should probably have been put through standardized testing in spite of the fact that they would not be successful. According to the state, GAA is for the most challenged students, and mine are only 5-8 years behind academically (low MIID-MOID).
    That said, I am finding that I cannot teach and document tasks for GAA at the same time. I am having to go back and stage pictures after the fact, or write up observations after the fact. This feels fakey. I do try to be as accurate as possible and to actually teach the skills.
    I estimate that each piece of evidence represents a minimum of an hour to plan, prepare, process, and write up. I would guess closer to two hours if I had to bet. Each of my students will have at least 24 pieces of evidence at the end, plus entry sheets and various other forms and labels. Times 5. This is a tremendous waste of time, to the detriment of children.
    What can we do to stop this madness? I plan on having most of my kids do standardized testing next year, because I really want to be able to spend my time teaching instead of doing this worthless drivel. This is one of the worse ideas the state has ever come up with. Who in Washington or Atlanta will help us stop this craziness? Is anyone already on board? JKJ

  5. Dick Dalton November 27, 2006 at 8:35 am #

    Part of what I have to do is teach the boy to care about his own dignity; i.e. closing the bathroom door when he uses it. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Taz doesn’t care so much about whatever tasks are set before him. He does not give one wink about passing any test. He cares about eating and being happy and helping others. None of those things are measure by or dependent upon any test or portfolio.

    There is no line because you can’t have a law called “1% of the Children Left Behind.” I’ll be honest and say there are students in this population that are being neglected by some teachers, and I’ve written about some of them here. But they’ve penalized the whole system for this, without necessarily helping the students. where’s the sense of that?

    And I’m with you, JKJ, in that has been very difficult to do anything else even though I have just the one student! I have another student who I do not even know and have never met who I’m supposedly managing the GAA caseload for. I’ll make some effort, but it will be very minimal toward that student. Sorry.

    I can only imagine the madness of doing 5!

    I guess not making AYP for a few years might stir up a sufficient howl that someone might hear it.


  6. bj November 28, 2006 at 12:12 pm #

    “What can we do to stop this madness? ”

    You folks on the frontlines have to keep talking as often and as loud as you can. Most of us have simply no idea of what happens in schools, and even more, what happens in special education classrooms. It’s a Cassandra task, and you’re going to get ignored, and worse, ridiculed. But, occasionaly, you’ll get an ear that might make a difference.

    Unfortunately I’m not that ear, but I pass on the stories I read here, so at least I can be another mouth.


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