Monday, August 2, 2010

The year in review

My data, of course, is limited, as J tells almost as little as his teachers and aides do. I have two main sources.

My first source is what comes home in J's backpack:

1. Science quizzes with failing grades

2. Reassurances that these quizzes don't count--apparently they weren't even supposed to be handed back-- and that he's earning an A in science.

3. A final grade of B in science, based on one B (for the first timester) and two A's (for the second and third trimester). The same thing happened last year.

4. Vocabulary quizzes that started out several grade levels ahead of his measured vocabulary level, with words like "enamored," and then later (after I had to go at some length to explain why this wasn't a good idea) dropped down to words several grade levels below his measured vocabulary level, like "garage."

My second source is what I'm told by other parents who volunteer at the school, and by outside professionals whose job it is to observe J:

1. That J appears to be spending most of his time outside the classrooms his IEP has placed him in, either at a table in the hallway, or in a small private room, or on the playground (where he rarely mixes with peers).

2. That he spends the majority of his time in school being educated by non-educators (either his tss or a classroom aide.)

Mainstreaming, it would appear, sometimes means nothing more than not placing a child in a special education classroom.


Anonymous said...

This has been the experience of several parents of children with autism in our community. Most of what they learn, they are taught at home. Parents don't fault the classroom teachers, they fault naive and over-optimistic assessments by the special ed department (then written into IEP's), which failed to figure out what specific practices and systems would make it possible to adapt the mainstream curriculum for their children. My take-away from this is that there will have to be a lot more nuts-and-bolts, practice-oriented research before children with autism (many of them) will be well-served in mainstream classrooms.

Kathy said...

This is really interesting, Katie! One thing that strikes me is how little information parents have about their children's everyday experiences in school! We are meant to stay involved (preferably in ways that the teachers prescribe for us) with little information about a) what happens in (or outside!) classrooms; b) how teachers and schools arrive at their evaluations of our children.

Elizabeth Knapp said...

One of the best uses of TSS's (and although I was one for many years I am now fairly anti TSS) is as a spy for the parent - both in mainstreaming and self-contained classrooms. I do not understand how difficult it is to set up regular communication systems betweem families and school staff.
In recent years there is more presure for regular ed teachers to hold special ed certification as well - I wonder at what point this might translate into better inclusion services.

Liz Knapp said...

Also - did you confront the teacher about the science grade - maybe lend her a calculator?