Can They Pass the Test?

Everyone in this country has a fascination with standardized assessments. Government officials, administrators, parents, and even fellow teachers. Yes, that is right. Even teachers are somewhat obsessed. The number one question I ever receive from a general ed teacher regarding my special ed students is...

You guessed it! "Can they pass the test?"

I honest-to-goodness wish I could always answer that question with a resounding, "Of course!!!" And just in my short 6 years of teaching special ed, there was a time when this answer was much more common. However, that has gone away in the era of over-testing in recent years.

As we are gearing up of assessment season (my 8th graders take their math on March 29), I just want to throw my fact and opinion out there about standarized assessments and special ed students.

Fact: NCLB created laws that required special ed students to pass assessments that were child the same as their general ed counterparts.

Opinion: While these laws had great intentions, they did not factor into disabilities beyond the physical ones. Children with learning disabilities are generally 2+ years behind their peers (HENCE why they even QUALIFY) so expecting them to pass a grade level test is ridiculous.

Fact: NCLB is going away and more control is being given to the states.

Opinion: I truly hope this means my special ed students will once again be allowed modified tests. I do not mind my students being tested on grade level materials as long as they are able to receive modifications just like they do on a day-to-day basis. My students actually had very high passing rates when Texas still allowed modified tests.

Fact: Texas believes that children are going off to college not being able to think critically. Their solution is to force students to take a state test that has SO MUCH critical thinking that it is even difficult for adults. And for kids? It is crazy stupid hard.

Opinion: My personal opinion is just that the state of Texas needs to wake up about the STAAR assessment. The questions are developmentally beyond that capabilities of most high schoolers much less the 3rd-8th grades. Please stop FORCING students to grow up faster than they are ready for.

Long story short, if you ask me, "Can they pass the test?", my initial answer will be no. However, I am hopeful that the ending of NCLB will create a swing back towards doing what is truly best for students no matter their level and not just what looks good on paper. Here's to hoping for a brighter tomorrow!!

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