Teachers, Admins, (anybody) help!

Saint Cad You are awesome! Thanks.

Let’s talk about these tests for a moment. I worked in ed assessment for a decade, and while we didn’t cover TX, I can probably help you out a little bit.

Virtually all states release previous years’ tests on an official state ed website. This means that you, as a parent, can look and see exactly what sort of questions are on the exam. They won’t be this year’s questions, but they’ll be very similar in nature and structure because the tests are purposely designed that way to track year to year progress among different cohorts.

You need to also investigate if TX does alternative assessment. Several states, including most of New England, Nevada and NY have already made the move to wards designing “achievable” tests for students with significant cognitive impairments, and yes, autism is included in every state I worked on. These tests generally count the same as the standard tests, but instead of being grouped solely by grade, they’re often (but not NV) designed to be grouped by difficulty too, the idea being that as students progress in school, they’re hopefully able to acquire more skills if not the same ones or the same pace as the kids taking the standard tests. This means that what they call “algebra” might not resemble algebra very much but at its root it shares some required math foundation for the skill, like perhaps beginning with being able to demonstrate an understanding that five is both a number of given objects and the numeral 5. Considering the frequently bandied about accusation that teachers “teach to the test” (which I hope to god isn’t true or we’re all in for Idiocracy in the future) you might get a sense of what he’ll be learning from this if he’s slated to take this assessment.

There has also, with significant pressure from the feds, been a recent movement to rehaul several of these tests to make sure that all of the questions are academic rather than giving credit for life skills - for example in the writing section you can’t get credit for making a bed but you can for creating writing a response with Mayer-Johnson symbols - so you probably don’t need to worry that he’s not really learning math in math class.

In any case, if they offer an alternative assessment odds are pretty decent you will also be able to see past real questions too. Your son’s teachers should be able to tell you if there is an alt assessment and if he’ll be taking it, even if they don’t know the web address for parents off hand.

Second the compliments for Saint Cad: I’ve participated in my share of IEP meetings, and I learned a lot from that post.

I am de-lurking after several years because I think I can help.

I am a science inclusion teacher in Texas. I have several co-taught classes which means the content is modified and there are two teachers in the room (both certified in science and sped). An inclusion course has students that are both on level (regular) and below level (referred to as basic). The students that are on level will be responsible for the TEKS for that course; the students in the basic course have “goals” related to that course. For example, in science a student who is on level is expected to construct a graph while a student in the basic section is expected to read or interpret a graph. Inclusion/modified classes are very difficult to teach because each one of your students has different goals depending on their ability.

These goals should be individualized based on your son’s ability and are part of your child’s IEP which you should go over at your yearly ARD meeting. If you feel like you would like to meet, as a parent, you have a right to request an ARD meeting. If the request is made in writing, the school has 30 days to hold a meeting.

The best way to get a clear picture of what is going on is to contact the teacher – if he/she doesn’t respond. Contact the head of the special education department and cc the principal.

The STAAR test was just phased in for freshman last year. There are no released tests and it is considered quite a bit more difficult than the TAKS. All students must take some version of the test – regular, modified, alt. However, at your ARD meeting which test your son takes should be discussed.

I hope this helps

You are too kind. Thanks for the info.

I talked to the teacher and have set up a meeting for Wednesday.

I almost feel sorry for her. With the wealth of knowledge I’ve gained from this thread, she wont know what hit her. And believe me, I will be taking notes from this thread.

How did it go?

Basically the teacher’s hands are tied. She agrees a better mastery of multiplication and division would be ideal.
However, it is a modified class and he will be taking a modified version of the STAARS exam. He gets to use a calculator in his classes and on his exams.

She tells me he’s hanging in there. And he is trying. (Wich is a good thing because he gets graded on that) His biggest failing right now is that he has not been doing his homework.

I did not know this as he lives with his mom. An even bigger frustration for me is that his mom doesn’t seem to fucking care that he is not doing his homework.

So this basically means, I have to wake up three hours before work. Go by my son’s house and help him with his homework and then go do my 12 hour shift.

All this while his mother hangs out up at the bar for her nightly dose of alcohol. Grr!!

Sorry, I know that’s more information than you probably wanted. I just needed to vent.

This is a very informative thread. My heart goes out to you Shakes, because it is frustrating to be trying to help your child while the school (really or seems to be) pissing away time and not doing anything. The custody situation just makes it worse.

At least you are involved and your son knows you care how he does.
St Cad and MaryCeleste would you consider an “Ask the Special Ed teacher” thread? (Aplogies if there is one already, I could not find it)

Shakes, a few things.

Most important: can he get a diploma in 4 years by taking this modified class and test?

I’m not really sure what you mean by the teacher’s hands being tied. What exactly can she NOT do that you want her to do? And I hope you noticed the dichotomy I pointed out in a previous post. If the teacher lets him use a calculator, why should he learn to mutiply and divide? If the answer is that the calculator is a support while he builds his multiplication and division skills, then a) is the teacher really working to wean him off the calculator? and b) does your son understand that even though he can use a calculator he needs to learn to multiply and divide by hand because I can tell you that for many high school students I work with that concept is hella dumb.

Have you looked over the IEP? That can be a very powerful document as it has all the force of federal law and because of the Supremacy Clause, it can overrule school procedure and state law (re: “my hands are tied”). I remember when a new guideline came out in regards to state testing in California that was horribly unfair to a few of our students on IEPs, we held some “emergency” IEP meetings to put in supports for state testing because “if it’s in the IEP, it has to be done.” Also, teachers are legally obligated to follow the IEP as an individual. There is a little known case in SpEd law, Doe v. Vickers, that holds a teacher personally liable if they refuse to follow an IEP. So for example, if you push for your son to have an independent work time in class and the teacher refuses claiming homework should be done at home, if it is in the IEP they cannot refuse or else you can sue that teacher personally. Not that you would do it but what person wants to knowingly open themselves to a lawsuit they are guarantied to lose?

It bothers me that the big problem is lack of homework. That should be a minimal issue because if he is not doing homework and he knows the material, does it really matter? If he is not doing homework and he doesn’t know the material, then how the fuck does the teacher expect him to learn it on his own at night when he’s not learning it in school with a teacher and all of the support that entails. For a teacher to claim a student is having trouble learning because they are not doing homework is bullshit.
[rant]What is the purpose of homework? Back in the good ol’ days when learning math was practicing using rules 50 time to develop rote memory then homework was an integral part of that learning process.* Modern day math pedagogy is moving to an idea of learning through doing viz. having students learn through problem solving and application. There is also a lot more collaboration in classroom learning so for example in my class, homework is to see if a student can work independently, i.e. without having to rely on peers and me to help if they get stuck.** Other teachers use homework for different purposes such as assigning the 3 or 4 application problems you see towards the end of problem sets (the infamous word problems) and many dispense with it entirely.[/rant]

  • Rote learning does have its place. After teaching students how to factor, I give them 50 quadratics to factor so by the end they can quickly factor quadratics. But notice that the rote learning is not to teach them how to factor but rather to develop fluency.
    ** [self plug]The idea of working through difficulty is called math resilience and is one of the things I am researching for my Ed.D. in math ed.[/sp]

After your talk with the teacher, what has to happen for your son to learn the material (and don’t say homework)?

Bump to see if Shakes will return.

Learning math this way really helps I think. Mathematical expressions and equations (at least at the algebra level) can be read out loud in a Plain English way. And conversely, mathematical statements written in Plain English can be translated to Mathese. I think students are at an advantage if they learn it like this, from early on. Helps with word problems too. That old College Albegra textbook from 1947 (that I’ve mentioned in other threads) has a whole section on this, as part of its coverage of word problems.

Except that research (especially Dr. Kiernan from the University of Quebec) has shown that the difficulty is when students try to make the jump from the concrete as in your example to the abstract concepts needed in high school math. Just look at the OP’s example and look at yours. (2N)/14 according to your example means taking an unknown number of marbles, double the number of them and put them in groups of 14. Tell me how many groups you have and how many are left over?

:confused: How old is your child? I’m being confused by union of “freshman” with “can’t use a calculator because kids start using calculators at 9”.

I can see “not using a calculator until you can do things by hand” (a policy I find to be very common), but I’m confused about the age part.

I’m a primary school teacher.

I was remarking on the fact that we, as in teachers in primary schools using the English National Curriculum (which is all the state-funded schools in England, for now) don’t introduce calculators until a child has a grasp of the basic maths operations.

My point was that a calculator wouldn’t solve the OP’s child’s problems, because despite being older than 9, s/he doesn’t have a solid grasp of the basic maths operations and a calculator won’t teach them that.

As you talk to us colonists, remember that the UK changed their math instruction after the Cockcroft Report in 1982. Thirty years later and the US is still not up to the level of pedagogy that the Report recommends. Jo Boaler left Stanford and went back to England for four year in part (or so I’ve heard) because they couldn’t deal with her “radical” ideas. I remember one training I was at where they were talking about groupwork and constructivism together. The teachers had never heard of such innovative thinking yet Paul Ernest from the University of Exeter had been writing about it for years.

Taking my math ed Ed.D. in Britain taught me one thing, you are 20-30 years ahead of us in math pedagogy.


What do you think of the Rose Review of reading? (PDF) I know it’s not your field, but don’t you bump into this stuff in SEN teaching?

I just completed initial training, but I left school almost 20 years ago and I was shocked at how different teaching was. The kids leaving primary schools at 11 (the majority of which meet or exceed the expected levels of attainment, ie level 4 in English and maths) are capable of doing things that I didn’t encounter until, in some cases, 2 years into secondary school (13-14yrs old). I spent a day at a secondary school and observed kids being taught at 11-12 stuff that I didn’t encounter until 14-15, similarly for English, albeit in the highest attaining classes. It’s insane the difference that research based pedagogy can make on attainment and achievement.

What is the root cause of the lack of pedagogy development in the US, is it fragmentation (e.g. no strategic oversight at the federal level), stagnation (e.g. lack of innovation in initial teacher training) or simply lack of funding?

I’ll have to read it. Most SpEd training here is on law, writing IEPs, how not to get sued and pedagogy.

The root cause of the lack of or fragmented pedagogy is the fact that our education system was created around the turn of the century (1900) by John Dewey. The goal was to enable boys to run farms or industrial-based business while girls were trained to be farmer wives, secretaries or schoolmarms. Everyone recognizes the need for education reform, but it is a program here or an initiative there without trying to refore the entire system. The analogy I use is a 100 year old house. You can paint, fix the roof and get new carpet but without fixing the walls and foundation you still have a 100 year old house.