Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gratified By His Failure

N came home with a science test today; out of 17 possible right answers, he got 7. In other words, he failed. Big.

But that's OK. Really, it's more than OK. Frankly, I'm thinking I might laminate and/or frame this test, because I'm going to be showing it off a LOT in the near future.

Why? Because it is a pitch-perfect representation of two of the deficits I tried--not entirely successfully--to get the school district to recognize during his IEP.

One of the deficits is his acknowledged-though-somewhat-grudingly speech disorder. I have been saying over and over (and over and over) again that N's problem is in forming coherent, logical sentences. If I'm right, something like that would show itself in, say, an inability to handle fill-in-the-word questions. Because, if he can't really figure out how to make sentences "work," it would be difficult for him to fill in a missing word in a sentence. How could he figure out which word makes sense, if he has no idea what the sentence is missing, or where the sense of it is going?

So, the science test: The first five questions? Fill in the blank. Four out of five wrong--and it looks like he almost got all of them wrong, but erased his initial answer on the fifth one at the last minute. (A sample: The ______ can be clear or full of clouds. The right answer: sky. His answer: temperature.)

Now, the following six questions? Same exact material, but instead of fill in the blank they were pick-the-right-answer-to-the-following-complete-sentence questions. He got only two wrong here...and one of them I can totally see why; it's a pretty fine distinction for a first grader. (What warms the Earth? Choices: light from the sun; energy from the sun. N chose light from the sun.)

If that doesn't make my point about his major difficulty being in the form of the testing rather than in his understanding of the concepts he's been taught, I don't know what would.

The other thing this test does really nicely is to shoot down the contention made by several of the people who evaluated him that he's a visual learner, when that is just not how I see him at all. (My friend Ambre, who pooh-poohed the visual-learner label the second she heard it, will be especially gratified to see how this worked out.) How was that shown? The remaining six questions on the test were picture questions, of the "circle the tool you would use to measure the weather shown in the picture" type. N got four out of six of those wrong. Clearly, seeing a picture does NOT provide a thousand words for him...or if it does, a good 666 of those words are incorrect.

OK, so I may have been kidding about the lamination and framing, but I am totally not kidding about dragging this test with me all over the freaking place. In fact, in the hour since N brought it home to show me, I've already emailed his science teacher (yes, they have a different teacher for science in FIRST frigging GRADE...because there's not enough for these kids to deal with, so why not throw in adapting to two different teaching styles right off the block?) to ask for a few minutes of her time so I can talk to her about his IEP and accommodations, and emailed his speech therapist to ask for some time so I can show her in gorgeous black-and-white just what I think needs working on.

I'd be a lot more worried by his failing this test, in other words, if I weren't so thrilled by it.


Maddy said...

Always a double edged sword.
Best wishes

Green said...

Wow. FWIW, I think N would do better if he were tested orally with visual backup. But yeah, he needs help.

And I got a question exactly like the heat from the sun/energy from the sun wrong on my CA Driver's License written test. I thought one thing implied the other, thus I picked the answer that included both. I'd have picked the heat too. I hate questions like that.

Valle said...

I totally know what you mean...just before our older son was being tested for dyslexia, I found this crumpled piece of paper where he wrote "I hope the criminals get caught" (he was freaking out about some escaped prisoners at the time) -- the note was completely written backwards! Started on the left and went to the right -- and each letter was backwards. Like mirror writing -- i couldn't have done it if I tried!
I grabbed that little scrap and showed it to all the testers -- made a big impact.

Anonymous said...

wow, that is revealing - pretty cool! Also - he knows how to spell temperature? B is still trying to get the very basics like c-a-t!

TC said...

Ha! No, he can't spell temperature; I don't think he can even read it. There were word choices after each question, and I was told that the teacher goes along with them and reads them each choice, so that they can pick the right one.

po said...

It's always good to have "evidence" you can wave under people's noses. For some reason, people just don't respond as well when you tell them to just trust that you know what you're talking about :p.

Ambre said...

It also goes along with my feeling that he is an auditory learner with a communication disorder- a pretty big problem in that other are we talked about. And something none of their testing would pick up.

Also, not to be picky, but when you're talking to the professionals talk about his communication rather than his speech. Speech usually refers to the actual sounds, rather than the brain processes required to put together the words. It is a more serious disorder as well in the academic setting (as you well know). It's just a terminology thing.