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Teaching Students with LD and ADHD

# Venting

Author Message
Posted Dec 18, 2007 at 5:37:30 PM
Subject: Venting

Picture this: District Benchmark testing day with tests designed to probe the students' understanding of 7th/8th grade state standards in language arts and math. The class is a special day class for 7th and 8th graders with learning disabilities. The highest reading level in the room is around 3rd grade. The lowest is Kindergarten. The rest fall in between. the students are given their tests and scantrons. They are allowed accomodations which are provided. They look at the test and their reactions vary from dispair to anger. "Don't they know we can't read?" is a common complaint. The math was worse: "What is this, anyway!" asked several students. (We're working on multiplication; just edging into division with whole numbers and the test was testing pre-algebra standards.)
The majority of the students guess. They look to see how many questions there are in the test and then randomly bubble until they get to that point on the scantron. Others might give it a good try, but end up guessing due to concepts and/or vocabulary far above their current functioning level. Botom line: Test results will not reflect their abilities.
Here's the killer. I just spent last Thursday in an all day meeting with ONE other special ed. teacher, two administrators and a facilitator from a school improvement company our district hired 5 years ago analyzing the data from the benchmark tests! We were supposed to look at all these printouts of class results and individual student results broken down by test question and standard. The data reflected how many answers students answered correctly out of the total number of questions in the different areas of each subject. I can't tell you how many times I said, "They guessed. I watched them guess. I know for a fact that these percentages reflect guessing!" I tried to convey we were evaluating invalid data. The facilitator is very nice and had great ideas for teaching, but my comments about invalid results were glossed over so we could be dragged on to the next step in recording our results and forming "An Improvement Story." Okay. They guessed. If we test them again (right after Winter Break!) we are supposed to hope for improvement in the standards we're choosing as a department focus. (When I teach the skills involved in the standard I use texts my students can read. They're tested using grade level text which they can't read and I can't read it to them!) The only 'improvement' we can show is in GUESSING! A few weeks after the January Benchmark Tests I'll be expected to attend another all day meeting to evaluate the results of...you got it...guessing! How frustrating.

Posted:Dec 19, 2007 8:43:38 PM

I experienced a similar situation last year. I had a group of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade self-contained students. We spent the first six weeks working on letter and number recognition. When the benchmark tests were passed out my students could not even complete their scantron forms. I promised them that if they would listen to me read each question and circle an answer choice on their test packet, I would give them a reward. I had to transfer all of their answers onto the scantron forms. Since I had three different grade levels, I had to read aloud three reading tests and three math tests. We wasted an entire day. I was just thankful that they could recognize the letters a,b,c, and d- with 90% accuracy! I also had to waste another day, sitting through the meetings which discussed how I could improve my scores! I am not teaching special education this year. I hope I do not have to experience that situation again.
[Modified by: dmiddleton on December 19, 2007 08:45 PM]

Posted:Dec 20, 2007 2:03:18 AM
Subject:Venting

But afterall, we are talking about the Manufacturing Industry, where they just need a simple Performance Indicator test, to identify the Product Rejects?

Posted:Dec 20, 2007 3:17:11 PM
Subject:Re: Venting

I don't know how to ask this question without sounding offensive, but I am really confused. I don't really understand how kids can get to fourth grade without knowing their letters or seventh grade without knowing how to read, unless they are mentally disabled or have a portion of their brain that is malfunctioning (perhaps for reasons unknown). I have a daughter who has a diagnosed LD, so I know how difficult it can be to teach such kids, but my daughter is definitely teachable. I thought by definition that kids with an LD have average to above average intelligence but are not performing well, sometimes for reasons unknown. What I have found with my daughter is that sometimes she needs to be taught differently and it can take much more time, but since the IQ is there, she can be taught. Is there a chance that the school is just failing if a child reaches fourth grade without knowing their letters or seventh grade without being able to read? What really concerns me is the first teacher quoting the kids as saying "Don't they know we can't read." Who told the kids that! My daughter had a difficult time learning how to read, and I would have been furious if someone gave her defeatist statements when she was struggling to read. Overall, I could understand if a child who struggles is maybe a couple of years behind--but five or more years--I don't
understand that unless there is something like a mental disability. If there is a significant disability, such as Down syndrome, would the kids not fall into a different category? I'm really confused how the school system is labeling and handling our children.

Posted:Dec 21, 2007 9:29:20 AM
Subject:Re: Venting

I am an elem-trained sped teacher, and I am now at the hs because that is where I can still teach reading, writing, and spelling to our students. I tried teaching at the elem level after NCLB went into effect, and it was a truely miserable experience!

Here I see students improving language arts skills. And I do not have to give grade level achievement tests. We work with grade level standards, but I am allowed to help the students learn at their reading level.

I think the students have so many problems learning to read because teachers struggle to teach them. Our students learn easiest with concrete and multi-sensory methods.

Anyone who is concerned with all the criterion-reference grade level tests should check out www.educatorroundtable.org.

Anita learntoreadnow

Posted:Jan 05, 2008 2:07:35 AM
Subject:Re: Venting

Please note I'm not a teacher but as a person who was involved with computer programming and manufacturing. I've sat through enough process improvement meetings which focused on improving the process when in reality the problem wasn't the process! It wasn't the process dummy!!! Anyway, maybe, you could find a way to get your students to only answer the questions they knew the answers to and leave the ones they don't know blank. If they can't answer any of the questions, they submit a blank form with zero bubbles filled in. Guessing is not allowed. That might get somebody's attention. That is what I would encourage. Maybe the test results would be more meaningful and you wouldn't waste an entire day.

Maja

Posted:Jan 07, 2008 2:01:01 PM

Here in MA, they TEACH children to guess. It's called an "educated guess" in that they are supposed to eliminate answers that they KNOW aren't right before they guess between the possible "right" answers. They explain to the students that if they don't put down anything, they get a 0. If they guess at random, they can still improve their score (statistically) by 25% for those items, and if they can eliminate a couple of answwers on the multiple choice before guessing, they can improve it by 50% for those answers. But essentially, they absolutely encourage them to guess if they don't know the answer.

Karen
[Modified by: krandall on January 17, 2008 07:28 PM]