In a recent conversation with my principal, I brought up the fact that I was worried about how my students would react to taking their first standardized tests this year. As students with disabilities, standardized tests are a omnipotent monster they’ll be battling. I expressed my concern that the monster would win…and then what?
My kids are good kids, hardworking, respectful, and conscientious. To this point, far as I can tell, the fact that they are in a small room with only 11 peers and three adults hasn’t affected their confidence. Nor, again, as far as I can tell, has the fact that, in reality, all of them except one are reading on a kindergarten or first grade level (as 8-10 year olds). And, yet again, nor has the fact, far as I can tell, that while general education classes in the third grade keep writers notebooks and publish on looseleaf paper, they are still using folders and publishing on primary grade paper.
Either they are blissfully unaware or I can expect the other shoe to drop pretty soon. Or both.
As they get older, the gap will, sure as the rising and setting of the sun, become ever wider. Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before repeatedly seeing 1s all over a report card or low marks all over a test becomes a bit too much for them to handle and they start to mail it in. Then their academics will begin to impact their behavior. Who knows what their repeated failures will lead them toward?
The very sad, even heartbreaking, truth is that these students are victims of a system that doesn’t value them and establishes them as absolute failure at every juncture, with no chance for success.
Meanwhile, it is report card time, and despite the real progress kids are making, the report cards won’t speak much to that point.
In our number-crazed world, there’s going to come a time when my message and the numbers no longer jive. And just like that, more students and more potential will be lost due to the injustices of the system.
It’s as if the kids are walking blissfully, joyfully, confidently…right over the edge of a cliff. And there ain’t a damn thing I can do about it.