I asked for honest reporting on my son’s report card. I did not want modified grading because I felt that I would never know his true standing otherwise. I feel not that they should hold him to a ridiculously stringent standard but I do expect them to stretch and grow him just as much as they would any other student. There are a few important things my son needs before the year ends, but I’ll get to those in a minute.
It’s difficult to express how it feels to see a report card of a child that doesn’t meet the standards according to the school, even though you see things the other way. He can either get a 1 if he hasn’t met the standard, a 2 if he’s met some of the standards, or a 3 if he’s met the standard. Imagine seeing a report card with almost all 1s and only one 2 on it. On top of that, my child has a long list of Ns to add to the mix. I think most people know what “N” stands for in the Elementary Education world. Yes, he “Needs Improvement” in so many areas that he didn’t need improvement in at the last reporting period.
I’m hard-pressed to argue against some of these details if they bring up some of the behavioral difficulties, but I feel as if we’ve seen improvement in the past couple weeks. He’s even done more independent work and made more 100s on his spelling tests. On the other hand, his lexile went down (no surprise since he takes the test on a computer and clicks his responses) and according to their testing, his reading level hasn’t changed since the beginning of the year. I’ve brought up before that I don’t feel their test means a lot, but I know they will use this test to determine his preparedness for the 3rd grade at the end of the year. I can state without a doubt that his lack of ability produce written responses had a large part to play in this test, but they still refuse to provide or attempt to provide any accommodations for handwriting even though it’s a barrier to his success. Assistive technology would likely help him a whole bunch, but my focus on that never does any good.
Our parent-teacher conference has already been scheduled for next week as a combined IEP meeting. It’s difficult to determine what they might want to accomplish at the meeting aside from what I’ve already gotten asked about: adding more time out of the regular education classroom because of lack of progress on him working independently in the morning. To me, though, this seems like a bad idea because if he doesn’t work independently and we put him in a smaller classroom to get more individual attention, it seems as if we’re defeating the purpose. How does giving him more individual attention make him more independent?
At the beginning of the year, I stated that I did not want a one-on-one TA for him because I felt he would become reliant on the TA for attention. Somehow, we wound up getting that service added to his IEP anyway. As the year has progressed, the TA has become more and more a part of his day. While in some areas, he’s become more independent, in other areas, he’s completely reliant on an adult to assist him before he gets started on anything. At home, we’re hard pressed to get him to do any homework without us present even though we know he can do it without us. He just wants us to sit there with him while he does it. He’s become so used to an adult sitting with him all the time that he won’t do anything by himself.
Here are Three Important Things My Son Needs Before the Year Ends:
- True Independence. I want him to know he can do his work without an adult sitting beside him. This takes confidence. The confidence that a child who doesn’t have adults hovering over him all the time might gain with time. Unfortunately, he began the year with an assistant, so I’m uncertain how horrible taking that assistance away might look now since he has autism and routine and stability really means a lot to him. I do want to wean him off though.
- Assistive Technology. I want assistive technology supports in place so that when it comes to high-stakes assessments, he doesn’t have the additional pressure of focusing on his writing. The overload on his brain must affect his performance. I think it’s insane for anyone to deny that. It takes so much of his energy and focus when he writes. Asking him to focus on writing letters and then demonstrate comprehension at the same time really boggles my mind.
- Progress Acknowledged. We see it and I’d like for the school to acknowledge it as well. Do I think we see enough progress given the amount we’ve seen in previous years? No, not really. The decline in the amount of progress per year began as soon as we switched to this school, so I don’t know if it’s because of a change in the way he’s taught at this school or not. But either way, I think that celebrating his accomplishments would go a long way toward seeing more of them. I see remarkable growth in the students I teach just because of the fact that I make a big deal out of even the tiniest amount of growth. It inspires them to do more. If I talked like some of the teachers I’ve heard before and said things like, “it’s not enough” or “he’s…away from grade level standards” even when they grew, I don’t imagine they’d continue to try. That kind of talk creates feeling of hopelessness in a child.
I believe every child can learn, grow, and achieve great things. I don’t think it matters if a child has an intellectual disability, autism, or any other type of disability. Every child can learn. What a mistake we make when we underestimate the abilities of our children and their capacity for learning. I cringe when I hear a parent say things like “Johnny will never learn…” because, well, how do you know?! My child can. I believe in him and always will. Though I asked for what I got when that report card came home today for the most part, I think some of the marks are off base. I’m open to speaking with his teacher about it, though, and I’m sure we’ll be okay. I know it hurt her to put most of what she put on there too because in our last conversation I know she struggled with some of it. I just feel that he has done more than what I see on that report. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m not an expert on 2nd grade curriculum by any means.
I do hope that by the end of the year, we can at least accomplish the three things I want to accomplish for my son. I want him to achieve the most that he can without any undue frustration and I want him feeling proud of himself for it. I think that’s reasonable.