Another Setback?

by PammyMcB

I hope that we are not about to experience another setback in Damien’s education. At his ARD meeting on Tuesday, we were informed that the way the new law reads Damien must pass the exit level math TAKS test in order to graduate with the recommended diploma that he has worked so hard for. Instead, failure of the test this year will mean that he graduates with a special education diploma, which will prevent him from getting into college.

Here is where I am disappointed. Damien started middle school with a full special education schedule. All of his classes were remedial, resource, classes. His dream to go to college had driven him to leave middle school and begin high school with no remedial classes and a full mainstream, recommended, schedule. He has worked so hard in high school to keep his grades up that he is in an Advanced Placement (AP) English course this year and will be in not only AP English but also AP History next year.

Damien has passed all of his classes including his math classes with fairly high marks (all As and Bs). He has pushed himself very hard, so that his dream of being a college graduate will be realized. However, this test, this one day in time, this snapshot of school will determine whether or not that dream will ever become a reality.

I do not understand the shift in standardized testing. This is not what standardized tests were designed to do. Standardized testing was developed by the Chinese and designed to gauge the teacher’s performance in the classroom, not the students. The students’ overall performance cannot be gauged by one day in time. Their overal performance can only be gauged in the classroom.

Do students’ grades no longer mean a thing? Does all of this hard work and effort that Damien has made account for anything? Can you imagine an AP student graduating with a special education diploma because they did not pass one test? Texas Tech, Damien’s dream school, will not even look at an application that has a special education diploma from high school. Damien knew this, and that is why he has worked so very hard.

I need advice on where to go from here. What am I to do to help my son? We cannot allow this to happen, and we cannot just let this go. The Texas Education Agency and U.S. Department of Education are sending the message to this one child and other children that look up to him that hard work accounts for nothing. Just the test does.

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