Please share this article with any parent’s of Autistic children who may have helpful information, especially within the state of NC.
Did you know that severely autistic children in public schools are required to be tested with EOG’s under federal law? Yep, it appears to have started with NCLB and it is still here with us.
This was brought to my attention when I received an email from a neighboring school district parent. This is a bit unusual and I am putting this out here in hopes that someone here in NC with more knowledge than I can figure this thing out. You see, her son is severely autistic, is in a public school under an IEP and within a self contained classroom. This is all new to me, and maybe to parent’s of other autistic children this is nothing new…but her son is expected to take EOG’s. I presume that they are modified…such as the NCExtend type exams. But they are still tests that these kids are forced to take. They are also test that the students, or at least many of them, cannot hope to pass. I realize this is a very sensitive issue. I probably have no idea how people may react. My kid’s do not have autism so I cannot imagine what it is like and I won’t pretend.
But one thing that this mother told me about was how much she loves the teachers in her son’s classroom and how much amazing progress her son has made. Here is where the Common Core Standards come into play perhaps though…when her son is forced to take a test that he and his classmate will fail, does it make the teacher look like they are a failing teacher in the way that CCS evaluates these things? I mean, beyond the sheer ridiculousness that any child should be forced to take a test that they will fail and besides the insult to the teacher that all their hard work will be watered down to a test they must administer that has nothing to do with all the progress made…under the new CCS-does taking and failing these tests, hurt the teachers and subsequent school funding? My guess, is YES. But if you know, please write in to me or follow this story on FB.
I do not know. But I do know that this mom would love some help with this. Are there any legal experts that you may know of who can lend support? Has anyone out there been through this same thing? The tests are next week and her family has some kind of function that will make it so their son will not have to be tested until the following week. They have a bit of time to put together a solid case. But they need some help. I know from when my ex-wife worked at NCTeach that the lives and struggles of parent’s of children with autism (when it comes to dealing with public schools) is hard enough already. So perhaps we can help this family out and also generate a repeatable strategy for any other parent’s of autistic children who wish to exercise their right to Opt Out.
I already have calls in to NCTeach and NC Autism Society. I also found this amazing video with story attached. Check it out. It is from a Special Education teacher who, wayyyy back in 2008, refused to administer the federally required tests to his autistic students, under NCLB. He was fired. Folks, I sure hope we have grown wise enough to where in 2013 this would not be the case today…
Story below quoted from a 2008 article in the Asheville Citizen Times by Ashley Wilson
A Cullowhee Valley School teacher has been suspended after refusing to administer the N.C. End-of-Grade Tests to his students with severe intellectual disabilities.
Doug Ward was suspended with pay Tuesday afternoon for insubordination and being disruptive, he said.
On Monday, Ward, 36, sent a letter to his school and Jackson County School District administrators saying, “I have decided that I will not participate in the NCEXTEND1 testing of any students here at Cullowhee Valley School.” The NCEXTEND1 Alternative Assessment is designed for students who have severe intellectual disabilities.
“Basically, the way it was set up, my kids have no chance of passing,” said Ward, who has been teaching for three years. “If you have a kid that is 11 years old and only developed to the level of a 1-year-old — I think I am a decent teacher, but I am not good enough to develop him to pass the test.”
Ward was supposed to begin administering the test Monday. Another teacher at Cullowhee Valley School has taken over for him in testing his students, Ward said. Students with disabilities must be tested under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Phone calls to administrators at Cullowhee Valley School and Jackson County Public Schools were not returned by deadline Tuesday night.
While Ward is opposed to all standardized testing, he said recent changes to the NCEXTEND1 have made it impossible for his students to be successful.
The test went through a standard review process that resulted in changes to this school year’s test, according to Vanessa Jeter, director of communications for N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
“We are not aware of any situation where a teacher has taken a similar stance, at least in North Carolina,” Jeter said. Recently, a science teacher in Seattle was suspended without pay for nine days after refusing to administer the Washington Assessment of Student Learning.
Ward’s inspiration for his stance came from some of his fifth-grade students, he said. In a class he co-teaches, Ward tied issues of racial discrimination the students were reading about to discrimination against people with disabilities.
The students did a lesson on what they have done and what they could do to enhance inclusion for all students.
“If I am going to teach this to my fifth-graders all year, I need to stand up and practice what I teach,” Ward said.
In a meeting Tuesday with school and district administrators, he was told an investigation would be conducted and he would be notified in a couple of days, Ward said.
“Administrators have so much pressure,” Ward said. “They must have the test scores, so if you are a young teacher and all your children fail, there are going to be negative repercussions. I really want it to be out there so that these other teachers have a resource — so they can show their administrators there’s a reason these kids don’t pass the test, and it’s not because I don’t do a good job teaching.”
— Ashley Wilson