As an emotional/behavior disorder (EBD) teacher I am often challenged to complete numerous behavior observations while teaching. Keeping those records organized and data collected in a manner that is easy to share with administration and parents, especially at an IEP meeting is often a challenge. I have been lucky in finding the BehaviorLENS app for my iPad. It is a wonderful that works without a wifi connection that allows to track numerous students within the app while using a variety of observation methods. It has recently become an integral component of my day as I am preforming three functional behavior assessments at once. I am able to track my ABC data, frequency and duration on the same app, switching between types with the tap of a finger. I am then able to generate a report and email that to my parents so they can see graphically how their student is doing. I am in love with this app! If you have students with challenging behavior, check out BehaviorLENS here. Happy observations!
I am reposting this because I forgot to include a link to the study, its title and the names and affiliations of the authors in the first posting. Pretty awful oversight. Actually inexcusable on my part. I apologize to my readers and to the authors of the study.
We have known for some years that the scoring of state tests is easily gamed.
“You asked a question about Martin Luther King,’ Christopher said to Kozol. “I’m going to say something. All that stuff about ‘the dream’ means nothing to the kinds I know … he died in vain. He was famous and he lived and gave his speeches and he died and now he’s gone. Be we’re still here. Don’t tell students in the school about ‘the dream’.”
I didn’t know.
I spent last night perusing the 150-plus pages of grading materials provided by the state in anticipation of reading and evaluating your English Language Arts Exams this morning. I knew the test was pointless—that it has never fulfilled its stated purpose as a predictor of who would succeed and who would fail the English Regents in 11th grade. Any thinking person would’ve ditched it years ago. Instead, rather than simply give a test in 8th grade that doesn’t get kids ready for the test in 11th grade, the state opted to also give a test in 7th grade to get you ready for your 8th-grade test.
But we already knew all of that.
What I learned is that the test is also criminal.
Because what I hadn’t known—this is my first time grading this exam—was that it doesn’t matter how well you write, or what you think. Here we spent the year reading books and emulating great writers, constructing leads that would make everyone want to read our work, developing a voice that would engage our readers, using our imaginations to make our work unique and important, and, most of all, being honest. And none of that matters. All that matters, it turns out, is that you cite two facts from the reading material in every answer. That gives you full credit. You can compose a “Gettysburg Address” for the 21st century on the apportioned lines in your test booklet, but if you’ve provided only one fact from the text you read in preparation, then you will earn only half credit. In your constructed response—no matter how well written, correct, intelligent, noble, beautiful, and meaningful it is—if you’ve not collected any specific facts from the provided readings (even if you happen to know more information about the chosen topic than the readings provide), then you will get a zero.
And here’s the really scary part, kids: The questions you were asked were written to elicit a personal response, which, if provided, earn you no credit. You were tricked; we were tricked. I wish I could believe that this paradox (you know what that literary term means because we have spent the year noting these kinds of tightropings of language) was simply the stupidity of the test-makers, that it was not some more insidious and deliberate machination. I wish I could believe that. But I don’t.
I told you, didn’t I, about hearing Noam Chomsky speak recently? When the great man was asked about the chaos in public education, he responded quickly, decisively, and to the point: “Public education in this country is under attack.” The words, though chilling, comforted me in a weird way. I’d been feeling, the past few years of my 30-plus-year tenure in public education, that there was something or somebody out there, a power of a sort, that doesn’t really want you kids to be educated. I felt a force that wants you ignorant and pliable, and that needs you able to fill in the boxes and follow instructions. Now I’m sure.
It’s not that I oppose rigorous testing. I don’t. I understand the purpose of evaluation. A good test can measure achievement and even inspire. But this English Language Arts Exam I so unknowingly inflicted on you does neither. It represents exactly what I am opposed to, the perpetual and petty testing that has become a fungus on the foot of public education. You understand that metaphor, I know, because we have spent the year learning to appreciate the differences between figurative and literal language. The test-makers have not.
So what should you do, my beautiful, my bright, my intelligent, my talented? Continue. Continue to question. I applaud you, sample writer: When asked the either/or question, you began your response, “Honestly, I think it is both.” You were right, and you were brave, and the test you were taking was neither. And I applaud you, wildest 8th grader of my own, who—when asked how a quote applied to the two characters from the two passages provided—wrote, “I don’t think it applies to either one of them.” Wear your zeroes proudly, kids. This is a test you need to fail.
I wondered whether giving more than 10 minutes of every class period to reading books of our own choosing was a good idea or not. But you loved it so. You asked for more time. Ask again; I will give you whatever you need. I will also give you the best advice I can, advice from the Nobel Prize-winning writer, Juan Ramón Jiménez. Ray Bradbury thought this was so important, he used it as the epigraph at the beginning of Fahrenheit 451: “When they give you lined paper, write the other way.”
It is the best I have to offer, beyond my apologies for having taken part in an exercise that hurt you, and of which I am mightily ashamed.
The current issue of Beyond Behavior, a quarterly publication from the Council for Children with Behavior Disorders includes a fascinating article discussing the prevalence of emotionally disturbed (ED) in school-aged children (k-12). The article, written by S. Forness and J. Kim from UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital and H. Walker from the University of Oregon Center on Human Development explores how prevalence figures are determined, the conflict between the two most frequently used methods and the implicationt appear to influenced by socioeconomic status or ethnicity, the proportionality of students receiving services in school is highly influenced by them.
The authors note that the variance inprevalence and students being served is a direct indicator of the enormity of the “service gap” described. With an estimated 12% of school-aged children having and ED at any one point in their school careers, and 25% of students suffering at least once during their school careers, the research showed only an estimated 2.5%of students actually receive services for their ED under special education. ” For example, our sixth-grade teacher in a middle – or low-income school might have as many as 3 or 4 students with moderate-to-severe EBD in his or her classroom per year and might at best receive special education assistance for perhaps only 2 of them every 3 years.”
The combination of a “service gap” and disproportionality within EBD is a significant concerns for teachers, parents ant other education stakeholders. What can we do to alleviate this injustice to our troubled students and children? How can we ensure that every child receives the support they may need from and mental health episode of depression to a life long battle of a mood disorder? We must meet at the table as equals, the teacher, parent, administrator, policy maker, psychologist, and psychiatrist to better identify and serve our future. To read the abstract and access to the full article click here.
Ed Week reports that the US Sentate Education subcommittee will be hosting a hearing to on seclusion and restrain in p-12 schools. They hope to revitalize efforts to pass legislation reducing restraint and seclusion due to inappropriate usage and to provide grants to educate educators on the proper uses of seclusion/restraint. The bill is good in its intentions but its over arching ban on mechanical restraints will severely reduce the safety of others, and the behavior modification practices of many students. While we can all agree it is not ok to duck tape a child, it must be permissible for resource officers or police officers to be able to handcuff students and for students to wear weighted vests that provide a sense of security and act to calm down the child. Both of these methods would be banned by the current bill that is stalling in the Senate. To read more, click here