Monday, March 26, 2012

Here We Go Again

When Ashley was in elementary and middle school, I constantly had to prove her abilities. She was viewed as a child with many deficits rather than a child who learned differently. Because she didn't fit the mold of a typical student, she was labeled as significantly delayed, when actually the teachers and staff had just refused to acknowledge that her sensory disabilities meant she approached the world in a different way. Fortunately by the time she moved to high school, her teacher 'got it', and Ashley has and continues to flourish.

But now I am facing the same battles with Ronnie's new school and teachers.

As parents of children who receive special education services you know that once every three years a child has to be re-evaluated. It's called a triennial, and it has always baffled me as to why we must go through all the testing over and over when the disabilities remain the same. Ronnie is still just as deaf as he was three years ago. He still communicates in his mother tongue, ASL. And he has not miraculously tossed aside his wheelchair and begun to walk.

But that doesn't matter. The rules say the triennial must be done and done it is. And that's where my problems with Ronnie's current educational staff emerge.

One component that was administered was a speech and language evaluation. I get the language part if, and that's a big if, the evaluation is administered in ASL by a Deaf person. It wasn't. But the school feels it is fine because they used an interpreter for Ronnie. I won't go into all the reasons why that is not a good approach, because even more distressing than that is the fact that they also administered the speech component. Ronnie doesn't speak - at all. Like a lot of Deaf people, he makes sounds, and in fact can be quite loud sometimes, but he is not speaking words. Again, ASL is his mother tongue.

But again, the school thinks all this is ok because they believe they have also measured his ASL skills - with a speech and language evaluation. Here are two examples why that was a disaster also:

Ronnie was shown a picture of tweezers and asked to sign what they were. He signed 'pickup - hair - ouch'. The speech therapist marked that as incorrect since he didn't know the word 'tweezer'. But what Ronnie signed is the sign for tweezer. If you want to see what I mean, go to the website, select main dictionary, and select the word tweezer.

The speech therapist also noted that a lot of Ronnie's signs were incorrect because they showed the action of the word, not the actual word. Again, go to and look up words such as wheelchair and basketball. Many, many ASL signs reflect the action of a noun, but the speech therapist didn't know that. I'm still baffled why the interpreter didn't enlighten the therapist.

So the result is that their evaluation puts Ronnie's language at the 3 year old level. And that is nothing short of preposterous.

Then to make things worse, the classroom teacher used the Kaufmann Test of Educational Achievement to measure Ronnie's educational level. Only there's one little problem. The Kaufmann has never been normed for students who are profoundly Deaf. So I head to the triennial meeting on Tuesday to again argue the point that unless a test has been normed for the student you are evaluating, all the results are invalid.

It reminds me of the time Ashley's teacher came away from Ashley's triennial with the statement, "Ashley is a visual and auditory learner.' ASHLEY IS DEAFBLIND!!!

Tuesday's meeting is probably going to be a little contentious because once again I am going to have to argue why standardized testing does not fit all students, especially students with sensory disabilities. I really thought we were past all that in my school district, but apparently not.


little.birdy said...

Please point out to her that unless the test scores were set using ASL speaking kids, she can't use a standardized score. She can only talk about how many he got right or wrong.

Ashley's Mom said...

Little.birdy, that's going to be my approach. I'll let you know how it goes!

mommy~dearest said...

O.M.G. This post just left me with my jaw on the floor. Still.