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Teresa: My son is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade. He has limited expressive/receptive speech disorder and autism. The school is trying to pressure us to put him on an alternative track because they believe that the testing would be “torture” to him. We were told that we could put him on the alternative certificate track, but then change to diploma track in 8th or 9th grade. My fear is that the teachers would not be held accountable since my son’s test scores will not affect the school’s scores. I’m also not sure that “we” could make the decision to change him. My son’s has escapist behaviors such as giggling to get out of work or a not preferred activity. He has high word call, but his comprehension is limited. From what I understand, the alternative testing should be limited to the 1% of special needs kids with severe cognitive delay. In my son’s IEP it says that his comprehension is hard to assess for whole books/stories, but the speech said that he would circle picture responses on Kindergarten level passages, and he would respond to explicit bases Accelerated Reader (AR) quiz questions when an adult prompted him to re-read the page on which the information was explicitly stated. My feeling is that the school is more worried about maintaining their high ranking and it will be a lot of trouble to provide the accommodations that he will require during state testing throughout the year. We took our therapist and behaviorist with us to the IEP meeting and they were appalled at that way we were made to feel it would be torture for my son to take state testing. I’m seriously considering having my therapist bring her friend, who is the head of Protection & Advocacy, to the IEP meeting because some things we were told were incorrect when I researched them on the State DOE site. Isn’t 3rd grade too young to make this decision?

  1. Teresa, I’m glad you are asking questions and not accepting this bad advice. Yes, alternative assessments should be limited to a very few children who have severe cognitive impairments. Your son does not fall into this category. In addition to accommodations and/or modifications, he needs more intensive instruction that targets his areas of difficulty, either one-on-one or in a small group of children with similar needs. Please read this guidance letter from the U.S. Dept of Ed – it will give you ammunition to use at the next mtg. Suggest you make copies for members of his team. https://www.wrightslaw.com/law/osers/fape.acad.content.close.gap.1117.2015.pdf

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