Okay, I’m going to have to talk about it, because no one else wants to do it. Or perhaps I’m abnormally obsessed with this. I’ve certainly been traumatized by the alternate assessment crap that is sweeping the nation.
NCLB strikes again, this time in Mississippi.
Mississippi is apparently using some sort of end-of-course testing in order to satisfy the test requirements of NCLB. We have EOCTs in Georgia, but it is the high school graduation test that determines whether or not a school makes adequate yearly progress. In Mississippi, some school districts apparently decided not to give the test to students who had not taken the courses. Why would you give a test over algebra to a student who had never taken the algebra course? And truly, this makes sense to me, except it does not make sense to the federal DOE.
At least one parent is quoted as liking the idea, and for students with milder disabilities, can understand that. I sat in on several IEPs this past year where the student was going to go through the alternate assessment simply because they had not taken the course work. His is one bad thing about using the graduation test, because now the student is in 11th grade which is long past where he/she should have taken those courses. At least this way, a student who missed one year can take the course and the test the next year. But the problem is that these students will often need much more support and time to acquire mastery over these core skills. And this sucks time away from other things like actually learning some practical job or life skills. Sure, the kid can now do U.S. history but they can’t balance a checkbook or make change.
I’m going to say it again: what kind of rigorous standards are you setting when you expect someone with an I.Q. of 50 to master them?
You dishonor the students who are really working hard to show mastery of high academic standards and do a disservice to the students with cognitive disabilities who needs multiple trials (about 500) just to master a new skill. Is solving a quadratic equation so essential that the student must forfeit time that might be spent learning to count money, or fill out a job application?
A U.S. spokewoman for the U.S. DOE (Jo Ann Webb says that only Mississippi and Maine are having issues with including special ed students. And that is patently false. Every state has struggled with the special education subgroup, and every single one has had to struggle with making grade level standards available to those with severe disabilities. Mississippi and Maine are simply the last ones to be thoroughly victimized and sodomized by NCLB’s draconian and senseless insistence on bringing a regular high school curriculum to students who have I.Q.’s in the single digits.
Here’s one other funny yet sad thing about this: thanks to this several schools will fail to make AYP. When they fail to make AYP, extra help must be made available and students are allowed to transferred to other schools. The problem is this: how does transferring to another school help our severely intellectually disabled kids? How does extra tutoring in physics and geometry help them learn to use the bathroom independently? Can extra tutoring in U.S. history or economics help them feed or dress themselves? The fact is, parents see only that the school failed to make AYP, not that it was only the one subgroup that didn’t make it. All of the college bound kids may be doing exceptionally well with outstanding teachers and yet the entire school is sanctioned by that label.
News flash: that’s not accountability. That’s stupidity. If you want to measure accountability, how about measuring the performance of those students who have actually been taught the courses and for whom written standardized tests are appropriate.
I still can’t believe anyone would still be supporting NCLB after is has fish-gutted education so badly. No amount of extra funding can fix something that is so discriminatory and unjust.
I’ll quit now, before I blow a gasket. You all enjoy your summer!
The most amazing thing is, that almost every time, the state department cites how valuable this foolishness is, all in the name of accountability.