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Why Children with Disabilities Should Take High Stakes Tests: One Parent's View

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2 boys who are friendsThanks for your articles about high stakes testing! I would like to share a story with you.

My son has Down Syndrome. Since he was six years old, the IEP team tried to talk me out of having him take any standardized testing. Despite this pressure, I insisted that he take these tests.

At first, I just wanted him to get used to taking tests. The first time he had to be tested, he freaked! The experience was overwhelming for him. In the beginning, he got reinforced each time time he answered a question (right or wrong). In time, he was able to answer a page of questions, then a section, etc. Finally he was able to take a complete test without any reinforcement.

I wanted him to be re-evaluated every few years. I knew he had to be able to tolerate testing or we would have no idea what he had learned. Later, I wanted to determine his progress from year to year.

He is now eleven years old. Last October, he took the Terra Nova test with only the accommodations that the school would allow (we had more battles about this).

I am happy to report that he scored in the average range in all skill areas except two - reading vocabulary and the reading composite score which includes the reading vocabulary test score. In those two areas, he scored above average!

I am still holding my breath to see if the school sends me a letter claiming that his scores are invalid.

The school staff and I continue to argue about accommodations and we don't always agree.

In general, standardized tests are language-based and this is my son's main area of difficulty.

Testing is essential for accountability. Parents need to decide what skills they want their child to learn and how these skills will be measured. Parents need to find out what accommodations can be used so the child's learning can be tested.

When I read your article, I was excited to find people who don't think that I am crazy for insisting that my son take these tests.

Although my son is included (another long fight), he is still in special education. The bottom line is that the school people don't want "those kids" to take standardized tests. We had a real fight to get them to test him.

A million thanks for your information and inspiration. My son has benefitted from your work.

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