Monday, February 10, 2014

Report Cards Can Go Suck It.

Yep, its Report Card Day here in JoeyWorld. Joey's came home Friday, but I didn't get to look at it until this morning. Andy's will be here this afternoon. I'll keep you posted.

The way report cards are done here, everyone is supposedly graded on the same measurements. In other words, Joey's report card reflects his work against that of his non-disabled peers, and the standards of all 6th graders in his school. In that context, getting a C in English is a downright miracle, given his communication and language disabilities. A B in History? With a child for whom historical time* is an ungrasped abstract concept and these events seem to have no relevance or meaning? Let's PAR-TAY!!! A B- in math, however, is highly confusing. He's been doing the math I've been seeing come home for 3-4 years already, and does these sheets perfectly in about 10 minutes. Plural, sheets, as long as there is minimal language involved. I am going to assume this means they are giving him a lot of word problems. With all we've been working on with his language and reading skills and communication disabilities, I'm tempting to again PAR-TAY! Joey is rocking the world!

But it also means he won't be honor roll again, and honor roll is something that is very poignantly  significant to him. It is touted as a mark of success, and not participating is therefore, in a back-and-white world, the very essence of failure.

Joey noticed I was looking at the report, and so I asked about some of the comments the teacher made, such as "low quiz grades." That is when things starting spiraling. He only got 30s on quizzes, that he was a "stupid retard" and "retards aren't allowed to pass quizzes". Though my heart shattered in a million shards of grief, I also knew he was speaking Joey. This word means Pain. It means Heartbreak. He was telling me of frustration, anger, disappointment, and pain all in one fell swoop of verbiage.

This is a word he knows people use to refer to him, and has fully grasped what it means.  And like any other word, he has emotions attached to it, and is ready to use as a placeholder for expressing those emotions.

I already have my letter in to his teachers, trying to pinpoint the issues that need to be addressed. Are his accommodations appropriate and effective? Are these grades reflecting his efforts? I also took some steps here, the same we have done for his brother- "A" quizzes means prizes, in an effort to get him to take them seriously and try to do his best on them. But what if, with all the language involved, all the issues of testing, all the problems of balancing accommodations, expecting an A really is too much? Will not getting a prize be just a reinforcement of failure?

When Joey gets home, a certificate will be awaiting him. It will be, in essence, "You are awesome. Let's PAR-TAY!!!!" Because he totally deserves one. 

*Yes, there is a difference between abstract time concepts and practical time concepts. Joey can gladly tell you exactly what time it is. His new interest in moon phases has been helpful in getting him to grasp the idea of cycles and years. But that something happened 200 years ago? Unfathomable for him right now. He has a very, very basic understanding. For him, 200 years ago is "once upon a time", and has very little difference from 2000 years ago.


farmwifetwo said...

If you switched from accommodated to modified, will they be graded against the IEP??

That's how my youngest is graded. Actually, being in self-contained he isn't graded at all. It's "marked" against his IEP goals.

When he was in regular program even though it was "modified" to a point, being in regular program meant it was "graded" per the rest.

Kate G said...

So, I am completely unqualified to comment here. However, I shall, because it is the internet, and I read your blog occasionally.

First of all, I very much empathize. Middle school is pretty tough even if you are mostly 'typical'.

Second, I know almost nothing about your family. However, it's sad to hear that Joey is hearing himself called retarded. Is that acceptable? Um, no.

Third, I wonder if Joey can enjoy some things, like art? Please tell him how much I enjoyed his video about how to mix colours.

Fourth, from what I have heard from other parents [and I'm not a parent, if that matters], the report card time is always stressful. Not being an educator myself, I can envision report cards that report progress, rather than evaluating against a specific metric, rubric, whatever.

OK, I'm unqualified to comment, beyond saying that I hope things become easier for Joey. And, pretending to be from Wisconsin, I betcha he finds his place in the world.