Anyone reading this for any amount of time (and you continued to subject yourself to my screeds!) can see that NCLB, and the alternate assessment in particular, has gradually increased my stress levels, not to mention my workload. So I’ve had to spend some time getting my nerves back together. Working with the kids that I do who require much and assorted physical handling in order to meet their positioning and mobility needs is actually pretty good therapy. There aren’t any other teachers in the high school whose jobs demand this sort of physical mobility and effort. The PE teachers could get in more, but the job hardly demands it and many of the teachers avoid it. When Jim or Ravi hollers, they are communicating a need for some sort of shift and often it involves changing diapers. This isn’t light work as both these boys are over 16 years old and weigh over 120 pounds with some pretty severe muscle contractions.
Working on Taz’s tasks for the alternate assessment has been stressful but it’s been manageable. I’ve been able to actually incorporate a fair amount of fun into the process. However, I have this other student that the administrators dumped on me, that has been nothing but a huge headache. The other teachers don’t want to it so it falls back on me. This is why committee work absolutely SUCKS because people find ways to get out of doing things and then the case manager (ME) is left flapping in the breeze. I don’t teach the kid. I never have. I’ve laid eyes on him exactly twice. But the administrators who are leading this process seem to be in a coma when it comes to exercising some sense into the process. Harry and Carrie are the two Assistant Principals (AP) that are leading this process. Harry used to be a special ed. Administrator before he was promoted to the AP in charge of testing. Carrie is now the AP in charge of special education. Harry seems to have totally forgotten everything he ever learned when we worked with him in special education. Carrie, in her 2nd year with us, is still learning the ropes. Neither of these have a background in special education. Still, one would think that having a teacher who actually knew and taught the student might be a good choice for making informed decisions as far as leading the effort to evaluate him.
So while I’ve bashed NCLB and made it a very convenient scapegoat, not all baboons reside in Washington. We have some right here in Magnolia County. This is the problem with handing down mandates from the highest levels of government. It has to be passed down from one sapiens to another and it is continually reinterpreted, added to, modified and reworked. By the time it gets down to us lowly serfs who actually have to implement a thing, it is screwed up beyond all recognition. However, sometimes it is good for a hearty laugh.
Yesterday, when we were in our GAA meeting, we were talking about some particular about how the submission forms had to be filled out. Someone made a comment that it shouldn’t make too much of difference how the thing was dated (the directions are somewhat vague) and Harry said with a totally straight face, “But, we need to be as precise as possible for the benefit of the kids.”
Benefit the kids? Benefit the students? Are you kidding me? This process has LONG left the domain of benefiting the kids! It’s become all about advancing some ideology, and accountability and some political agenda. I laughed so hard my sides hurt! HAHAHAHAHAHA! I had not laughed so hard and so much in a very long time. All of these students are going to get a special education diploma. It does not matter one WIT whether the dates on the submission forms have dashes or slashes! How much does a kid with an IQ of 35 care about the school’s AYP? And should they care about how their subgroup performs in math?
I do get out once in awhile, and Eduwonk caught my attention with a little snippet that I checked up on. The links are worth reading, as there are people within the disability community who do like NCLB. In fact, Madeleine C. Will, Vice President of Public Policy, National Down Syndrome Society, wants NCLB to be more stringent in its standards for individuals with disabilities. The other article from an elementary school in Georgia credits NCLB with more special education students being mainstreamed. Actually, the state DoE has set a goal for 90% of students with disabilities be included at least 80% of the time. And by reading the article, you can see that even this elementary school is falling short of that target. I’m actually for more inclusion as long as it involves both skill sets in the form of two teachers, regular and special educators working together. For some reason, school districts have resisted that model and favor the more restrictive settings.
As a counterpoint to Eduwonk’s offering, I’ll pony up a letter by a state school superintendent who has actually been in favor of accountability for a long time but who points out several instances where NCLB and specifically the Federal DoE has fallen short and sometimes is outright dishonest. Definitely worth a read, and hat tip to Jim Horn whose blog sort of pointed the way to this little gem.