Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I wonder if Picasso would have passed the MCAs

Having a diagnosis of dyslexia in hand, doesn't automatically qualify a kid for Special Ed.  As a mandate of Minnesota law, students must be tested within the school district despite a diagnosis from a medical doctor in order to qualify for Special Education.  According to Minnesota Statutes, language has to be severely impaired to qualify for special services.  Allie's language skills are not severely impaired - they are only mildly impaired.

The good news is that Allie qualifies for Title 1.  I really like the Title teacher at our school.  Although a lot of his time is devoted to helping kids "pass the test."  He reads books with the kids and actively talks them through the reading process.  Last spring, Allie came home with the Stink series.  A lot of times, a child will get hooked with reading if they find a series they enjoy.  Harry Potter, Junie B. Jones, Stink, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson, Little House on the Prairie, and even the Twilight Series have done amazing things for young readers. 

After months of worrying if she was falling behind, I'm convinced I was more worried about her not passing the MCAs.  What I was a young reader, I never did well on standardized tests.  I  never understood the questions they asked of me.  I can see my own daughter having the same problems I experienced.  The major difference is the pressure placed on the teachers.

When I was in second grade, I had a hard time reading and often felt lost in the classroom.  Mrs. M, my beloved second grade teacher, had the luxury of inspiring me to want to read and not have to push me beyond my abilities.    Allie's teachers wanted to encourage her to read and inspire her to be the best she can be - but there was always an undercurrent of worry in our parent teacher conferences. 

School didn't "click" for me until I was in 9th grade.  I coasted by with Cs and Ds.  I still remember the first time I got on the B honor roll and never dreamed I ever would get on the A honor roll.  - and then, I did.

I have spent a lot of time writing about how I hate standardized testing.  As a teacher, I'm not fond of tracking students by their test score strands and seeing a score by their names.  As a young student, my teachers had the luxury of not having to watch me every step of the way.  Allie's teachers have to worry about her test score because it comes down to their reputation.  They don't have the luxury of stepping back - they have to hound her until they're comfortable with her abilities.  Unfortunately, that might take a while.

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