Feb 13, 2008

Are You Kidding ME?!?!? - 2-3-2008 Part One

Ok so I am just going to vent for a moment!
I am totally frustrated by a writing assignment right now! I don’t exactly know even how to begin with this. KM and I were working on this assignment on Friday, we decided to put it aside until Sat because it just wasn’t clicking. So Saturday came and we were still having some trouble getting her to express what it was that she was trying to say and we decided we would step away again. This afternoon was the last straw for me. We spent two hours working on it and had barely gotten through the first paragraph.
Now I really thought this was something that was going to go very quickly even though this is KM’s worst subject area. She just does not like writing! The assignment was to write a persuasive essay. We chose the topic rather quickly, but every time it came to her answering simple questions she became sheepish and shy. (If you have met my child you know that is not her norm, by any means!!) I asked why and you could tell by the tears welling up in her eyes she honestly had no idea what to answer.
I am at my wits end. The reason I am soooo frustrated is that for the last three years my daughter has been having problems responding to writing prompts at school. She is very intelligent (I know that a lot of parents say that but she has always been at the top of her classes, reading at the highest levels and comprehending what is going on.) but for some reason when it comes to her expressing what she is thinking it is just not making a connection. I brought this up several times to her teachers and they just said “oh she is lazy“, “she writes so large that it takes her a long time and she gets tired“, (That one drove me crazy!) “she can do it she is just not applying herself“.
Last year they had MCAS for long composition and her teacher kept making this huge deal about the size of her writing and how they were concerned that she would not have enough time to finish the test because her large writing takes such a long time to actually write. So we spent weeks trying to get her to write smaller and the teacher kept hounding her about it. Finally after receiving a progress report stating that they were getting “seriously concerned” about the size of her writing and that they wanted to consult an OT/PT specialist about it I went to the assistant principle and asked what happened if she didn’t finish it in time and the assistant principle said “The long composition section isn’t timed, if it takes her three weeks to finish it then that is how long she is given!” WHAT!?!?!? She also informed me, as the head of the SPED department that the size of the writing has no correlation to the amount of time that she is taking to complete the writing. WHY IS THE TEACHER HARRASSING ME AND MY DAUGHTER ABOUT THEN? She of course could not answer this question. As it got closer to the time for the test they started having after school groups for the children that needed more help getting ready for the MCAS. KM was not asked to participate in these sessions so I assumed that the problem had been resolved. She took the MCAS and said she thought she did great. She finished it in a good amount of time and that was that.
UNTIL the first progress reports came home this year. This was my point of breakdown with the school system. The MCAS results are sent home with the progress reports you see and my daughter was in the bottom of Needs Improvement Category for ELA. I asked a teacher to explain the scoring and let me know where the biggest problem area was so that we could work on it. She said that KM was having her biggest issues in the Long Composition where she scored a 1 out 4 possible points in every category. She got a perfect score on all the other areas. ****Now meanwhile she also scored in the high Advanced Level for Math.*****
Not long after scoring was sent home the school sent home a notice saying they were going to start a Homework club that was by invitation only and would focus on specific problem areas for the MCAS. I thought oh this is a great idea, take the kids that really need to focus on one area and put them together to try to work out and understand the problem. So KM got her invitation to attend and I signed it right away so that she could start the group the next week. Monday afternoon I picked her up and she said how great a time she had. I said oh what did you guys go over. Her response was oh we played a few multiplication games and went over some fractions. HUH? why are you doing math games in the ELA group?
You guessed it she was placed in the Math group. Her teacher got her mixed up with another child whose name starts with a K and assigned her to the wrong group. So we easily fixed that situation, she was going to be attending the Tuesday group which was for ELA.
The next day I pick her up from the group and she says again how great a time she had and how she got to sit with “this one” and “that one.” Well “this one” is a fourth grader and “that one” is a sixth grader. Why do they have all of these kids at different levels in the same group, because they all need help on the ELA MCAS! It doesn’t seem to matter to the coordinators that these kids tests are all completely different. They are going to do the same games and learning strategies with all of them and it WILL work! Don’t think so.
KM’s teacher and the coordinator for the group both expressed how they thought she was making great progress and they had seen a huge improvement! When her report card came we were expecting to see low As - high Bs after hearing how great everything had been going. What we saw instead were Cs. Now for a child who had never even gotten a B+ this was a bit of a shock. The teacher said oh well she is having problems with her writing assignments. My head nearly BLEW OFF!
So anyway…this whole situation was the NUMBER ONE reason why I took my daughter out of school. The system is screwed up! I have a child who got straight As on all her 4th grade report cards for all ELA subjects, yet she can not complete the 5th grade writing assignments and got Warning/Needs improvement on her MCAS. She can not write a complete paragraph! She can write a “$3 dollar” sentence without batting an eye, but she can’t make it fit into a report with any kind of flow or cohesiveness. I now have to go back and figure out where to start teaching her from. Thank goodness for the ability to stop and change things around to fit my child.
This is the first really big bump in the road and I apologize for having rambled so crazily through most of this entry. Which really was a long one. I thank any of you who are actually still reading at this point, because I probably would have stopped reading after the third or fourth paragraph.
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