As a special day class middle school teacher, it seems to be a violation of a Free Appropriate Public Education to require that Special Education students within the Read 180 curriculum take the Comprehensive Assessment Program (CAP) tests. There are three basic reasons that these tests neither help nor improve either the Special Ed student or his teachers. First of all, the concepts which are covered by the English Comprehensive Assessment Program are not covered in the Read 180 curriculum. Secondly, because of this misplaced testing the self-esteem of the Special Ed students is dramatically lowered causing psychological damage and behavioral problems. And finally, the level of respect the student has for the teacher and the administration is significantly diminished because the teacher is required to administer this inappropriate test.
When topics presented by the English benchmark tests have not been covered by the Read 180 curriculum the student cannot be expected to respond to them correctly. It is absurd to force students to take a test covering skills they have not studied. To say the test is inappropriate is an understatement. What possible academic reason is there for wasting instructional time on this embarrassing display of the lack of education?
How can learning disabled student’s, who have on the average a third or fourth grade reading and writing ability, be expected to take a 6th, 7th, or 8th grade level test that requires them to read multiple essays and sythesize their main ideas into a comprehensive understanding of all the essays? Most of these students have difficulty comprehending the main idea of one paragraph and to explain this in simple sentences with the help of a teacher. Even if they did have the ability to accomplish these analytic feats, none of these analysis and summary skills of multiple sources is even covered in the Read 180 program.
What’s more, when disabled children have to take these meaningless tests they feel demeaned causing a loss in self- esteem which leads to psychological problems which are expressed by behavioral outbursts such as defiance and disruption. Of course I have no scientific proof that these conjectures are true, but I do have informal observations to support that there are negative results such as these from this district assessment.
Finally, we must consider the fate of the teacher, the school administration, and the school district in the Special Education setting. Are they to be thought of as protectors and shelterers of disabled learners from the inappropriateness of the Regular Education environment? Will they be revered and respected? Certainly the answer would be no. In lowering the respect of the student for the educators that have authority over them, the educators bear the responsibility for the results. And what are the results? Certainly they will not include respect, admiration, and trust. And without these three major lynch pins of education you do not have learning. So supporters of this misplaced testing in this particular situation are undermining learning.
In conclusion, I would like to petition the district to terminate either the Read 180 program or the Comprehensive Assessment Program. Termination of the Read 180 Program would allow the core curriculum to be taught, thus making the Comprehensive Assessment Program relevant. Or terminate the Comprehensive Assessment Program so that the Read 180 program can be assessed on its own merits without the deleterious effects of mismatched assessment. One other possibility is by writing a Comprehensive Assessment Program especially earmarked for the Read 180 curriculum. What ever the course of action, we must provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education for our Special Education students as is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Barclay Totten Copyright 2017