xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: Take your test prep and shove it

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Take your test prep and shove it

To the Principal and administration of my son's school:

As you know, my autistic son is mainstreamed in 4th grade at your school. While he is quite verbal and sweet-natured, he has a number of issues that affect how he learns within a classroom. In particular, he has difficulty focusing on what the teacher is saying, despite having an aide most of the time.

I understand the necessity of homework in this case; to let him have extra practice on the material he works on during the day. However, it's been rather obvious to me that the quality of his homework has changed significantly since the start of 4th grade. I have noticed a good deal of emphasis being placed on preparing him for "The Test:" four page math quizzes, "Response to Literature" story matrices, a constant flow of fables to "deconstruct," etc.

As my son is autistic, his best method of learning is by rote, and for his "least restrictive environment," he needs repetition for the material to sink in. By making him spend so much time preparing for The Test, you're doing nothing but taking away from the time that could be spend learning his basic academic skills. Please note that I purposely did not write this letter to his teacher, as I fully understand that her hands are tied when it comes to this issue, and have no desire to take her to task over it. Making my son do test prep homework is about our school's AYP, and nothing more.

The point in him even going to school is so that he can learn, not so that he can pass a state test; right now he's in 4th grade and reads at a 1st grade level. He doesn't need to practice for the state 4th grade writing exam, he needs to be able to read and write. He doesn't need to fill in the numbers on a Coordinate Grid, he needs to know how to add and subtract. It doesn't matter how he scores on your test. It doesn't matter about whatever political or economical impact his score or participation may or may not have on your district budget. What matters is that he learns, and by distracting him from his learning with meaningless test prep, you are failing to do your job.

That said, I look forward to squaring off with you over the table at our next IEP meeting in February, because this will be all we talk about.


Mom to Child 1, in 4th grade