True Story.

A parent called her child’s principal and referred to an IEP page which states that a child CAN refuse testing. The parent went on to say that she feels that this test serves no instructional purpose except to punish schools, teachers and disabled children. Any test that her child has to take should serve the purpose of developing appropriate IEP goals which will help her child acquire the skills needed to eventually master an appropriate curriculum that will enable her child acquire a high school diploma. The parent then stated that on the day of the testing, the child will refuse to take the examination……

The Principal immediately called my colleague (an data-reading trainer) down to the office and threw up his hands. Upset, the Principal said that if bunches of parents were to request this, the school’s annual yearly progress will be destroyed if his number of untested children dipped below 95%. He moaned that the school was at the cusp of being closed and that it was obvious that this parent was too stupid to write this letter herself. Someone had to have helped advise her. The principal wanted my colleague to spy around the lounge and find out which teacher could have helped this parent and this principal would make sure criminal charges would certainly be brought. The principal confided to my colleague that the letter was sent to “legal” and the “Network”.

This resulted in a quickly-called conference call between the legal department of the (New York) Department of Education and the special education administrator of this school’s Child First Network (or should we call it Child Last). According to my colleague, the special education administrator said to just ignore the letter. The network person said that disabled child is too stupid to understand why she would be refusing and could easily be ignored. The lawyer for Tweed said parents cannot opt out according to state law. She said that the parent stating that the child will refuse testing is equivalent to opting out because the child’s justification for refusal derives from the parent and not the child. After about a half hour of banter, these administrator, principal and lawyer decided that if the child refuses, the Principal should suspend the child and the administration of children’s services should be called so the parent can be charged with educational neglect. Finally, the testing coordinator, who was part of this conference call, meekly added, “What if the parent seeks out a professional advocate and commences legal action?” The DOE lawyer said not to worry because such parents are too stupid to do this……

This Kafka-isk experience STEMS from this one factor: putting the test first.  In fact, even with a quick read, one can see that from the top all the way down, everyone involved in this vignette, is focused on the test….

*And I thought education was about learning*.

If you need any more convincing that our educational system is failing us, this story should be enough to persuade you that scores on these made-up tests tehd to be the only thing that matters… Your son or daughter, doesn’t matter…Nor do teachers. Nor do principals. Nor do Parents….

So you ask what was the outcome?

They told the Principal that he should lay down the law. He was to tell the parent that when the child shows up for testing, the assessment would be given. If the child refuses to take the test, the child will be sent to a guidance counselor and any missed part of the assessment would be administered during a make-up day. They admonished the principal not to worry about any legal action, because if the parent went that route, it would take time and by then the child haven taken the assessment would be a fait accompli….

This is the atmosphere that has invaded our schools since the beginning of the RTTT and the Rodel’s Foundations advent into Delaware’s education… Not even No Child Left Behind was this bad, because the corporations were not a part of the deal.  Not even Carper’s testing program got to this point, where scores closed schools, fired teachers, demoted administrators, and made billions for investors getting state monies to STEM the bleeding….

Someone forgot the children. Should one parents correct assessment truly cause this much trouble?

Only if the test is the only thing that matter.