Standardized testing for special needs students is an issue that is dear to my heart. as a former teacher, I understand the need for accountability. As the mother of a child with special needs, I understand the fallacies of testing this population. To be labeled a special needs child doesn’t necessarily mean your slow, mentally ‘retarded’, have severe behavior problem. The term to me means nothing more than that a child is different, they simply don’t fit in the box of what the world deems normal.
Our son was recently tested using standardized testing at five years 0 months he tested in all areas between 24 months and 30 months. That is exactly where he is functioning in both speech and motor skills. The world might even deem that as an accurate assessment but those who know our son well brushed the test off without much thought. He does function at that level due to severe speech issues and a brain injury that affect his motor skills but at 5 years 0 months old he is also doing addition and subtraction into the 30’s , reading sentences and answering questions. If you put him in a standardized testing situation he bombs compared to the typical five year old. but if you take those same two children your comparing and give them the same type of questions in a comfortable, safe environment in somewhat different terms the typical five year old performs the same where my son who formally test as a 2 year old shows skills at a 1st grade level. The same can be said for a variety of special needs, if a child has dyslexia and we don’t read the paper to them so they can process the question, an assessment in useless. It simply cannot be a reflection of their knowledge because we are taking their greatest weakness and using it against them to assess their strengths.
In our family we have chosen no longer to participate in such things, how can a child be compared to the general population when there is nothing typical about them. Its a poor situation for both the schools and the student. the school comes off as they are failing and a special needs child’s true capabilities aren’t assessed in this situation affecting both the funding of the school the self esteem of the child.