Sunday, September 22, 2013


Well friends, my little Toodle Bug has really gone and done it now. She has ruffled the feathers of some people in pretty high places and I have the letter to prove it. Well, I did have the letter but I threw it away in a fit of hysterical laughter. Because I'm a rebel. And, unlike the people who sent us the letter, I have some common sense.

The letter was from the school but really not. They were just the messenger. No, it was actually from a State agency that oversees school-wide testing and then sends the results to the school in your district.

I didn't realize when I opened the letter what was happening. Because Ellie's scores were the first to fall out. Naturally I read her letter and basked in the glow of words like, "Exceeds proficiency" and "top 5% in the State".  Yes, I must confess to being unabashedly proud and feeling awesome by association like all mothers do when their child shines at anything. It's like you want to say, "That's right people, I gave birth to her and isn't she just magnificent?!" Admit it, we all do it.

But I digress.

As I was smugly rereading Ellie's scores, another letter fell out. What was this? More bragging from the State? Okay. I guess I can deal with that. Only upon closer inspection, this didn't quite read the same as the previous one. And it wasn't Ellie's name on the top; it was Tessie's.

And then I saw what was clearly intended to shame me into some quick action on behalf of my poor child. In big, bold typeface were the words,

"YOUR CHILD IS SEVERELY BELOW PROFICIENT!" and below that the number: 7.

Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

Yup, The Toots had scored a measly seven on her PAAP test and the State was none too pleased about it.

Forget that the kid had been hospitalized countless times last year, forget that her seizures had gone crazy so she was on enough medications to put down and elephant, and forget that she had physically been in school 4 days out of the whole year (she did have a little homebound instruction but was too sick and/or medicated to be able to really do much of anything despite the best efforts of her ed-tech), no, we were catching hell because Tess was just not doing what the State, in all it's infinite wisdom, thought she should be.

The school did try to appeal to the State to have some common sense and give Tess a waiver so she wouldn't have to take the test. And once again, in all it's infinite wisdom, the State refused to grant the waiver.

It is all so ridiculous that I can't even believe I am writing about it. You cannot, with any validity whatsoever, test a child like Tess. It just isn't possible. Between her illnesses, meds and quite frankly, diva-like attitude when it comes to anything school related, she cannot be depended upon to reliably show her knowledge on any given subject even if she knows it. The lack of empathy and understanding from the State on this is very telling. They just want statistics regardless of how inaccurate they are and the kids' needs come second to that, or not at all.

Plus, to be honest, it still stings to see stuff like that. I know what she should be doing at ten years old! I don't need a letter with bold print yelling at me to tell me she is not up to even what other kids her age with special needs can do. And it is so unfair to Tessie. She is smart. She is witty. She understands so, so much and this number reflects none of that. And while the school and I have had issues in the past, I have to say, this is also very unfair to the school because it makes it seem as though they should be able to do a better job of having her learn what the State thinks she should despite the extenuating circumstances of Tess being, well, Tess.

But ultimately, my sick sense of humor has won out and I just think it's funny. Ludicrous, but funny.

And I did make sure Tess knew that the State was on her tail as I waved that paper in front of her. Because I'm certain that that information will totally change her illnesses, seizures, and attitude for future tests.

You're welcome State of Maine legislators. You're welcome.