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Alternative Assessment



My child is in middle school.  He has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD.  He has not been diagnosed with disgraphia, but cannot write.  He forgets how to form letters and writes big.  He also has processing issues.  I’m told this causes him to be unable to write and type his own work.

He had a one on one assistant half the day from second grade through fifth grade.  The assistant was working as a lunchroom monitor the other half of the day.

In 5th grade, he still had the half day assistant.  Then, he also started spending more time in a resource classroom.

He had his re-evaluation at the end of fifth grade.  According to the assessment, my child was FMD in math and writing.  His other scores were in the normal range.  The new director of special education stated that all of the kids with the most serious disabilities were the students bringing down the scores on the state assessments.  These students, she also stated, were going to be put on the alternate assessment.  During the ARC meeting, the superintendent (who had never attended a meeting), the resource teacher, and the director of sped kept talking about how well he would do on the alternate assessment as apposed to the regular assessment.  The superintendent also said the regular assessment would stress him out.  I was also told that he had went outside after recess by himself twice.  This was despite the fact that he was not supposed to go anywhere alone.  Instead of blaming the staff for not watching him better, it was used as a reason to put him in the Alternative Classroom.

Because of my child’s writing and math  difficulties, my husband agreed to this.  I ended up agreeing, because he was the one I thought would side with me against all of them.  Anyway, my child was placed in an alternate assessment classroom.  Last year, he was allowed to go to two classes as well as lunch, club, special class, and Bible Release Time with the general education students.  This year, the sped director and alternate classroom teacher said there is too much material to cover for him to go to any regular education classes, except for his special class.

I never receive any work or progress monitoring from the class. I take this back.  I used to get unfinished work.  Then, I asked how he had unfinished work when he’s supposed to have a scribe and someone helping him work.  I also got blank copies of booklets he’ll be working on.  I’m always told to look at the standards covered by the alternate assessment because that’s what he’ll be learning.  

I told them orally and in writing I want to know what he is learning. I have went to the class a few times to see his work.  It looked like baby work, so I asked the superintendent if she could find out what he was learning.  After this, the sped teacher and director brought me a ton of folders that they said held his work.  I was able to look at some but not nearly all of it because I had to work.

 Every nine weeks, I get a letter with some boxes checked stating he is making progress toward each of his IEP goals.  I only got progress monitoring during the ARC meeting at the end of the year last year.

He cried the night before school started this year.  He did not want to be in the same class with the same teacher.

I talked to a guidance counselor at another middle school in our county.  He would not be any better off there.  What should I do?

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I'm not familiar with FMD so I had to look it up.   Functional Mental Disability looks to be a term that only KY uses which is why I wasn't familiar with it.  If he's average except for math & writing, he doesn't have a intellectual disability but it seems like that's how his placement treats him.

My feeling is that if he's got processing issues, you add special instruction to help him learn to process better.  I'm curious how well he did when he had a 1:1 helping him in K-5.  Was the 1:1 strictly a scribe or did they do things for him where he appeared to be more capable?  In reading between the lines, I see you questioning the accuracy (or maybe the interpretation) of the eval that was done before MS that moved him into his current self-contained classroom.  I also see concern about the competency of the teacher/appropriateness of the class given how your son reacted to going to school with them when the year started.  You have a lot in your post.

I'm not too sure about the rules in KY.  I'm in PA & the alt assessment can only be given to the lowest 1% of students in a district.  My district has 12,000 students so only 120 can take the alt assessment.  Not sure if your school has limits like this - might be worth poking around to see how your school compares to other in your area with the numbers taking the alt assessment.  This should be on a website with the tests scores.  Here, the alt assessment a simpler test of the same state standards that all students get tested on in grades 3-8 and once in HS (as mandated under ESSA).  IMO, these tests are meaningless with some disabled students.  If your child had READING issues, I can see them not doing well on these tests as it's a lot of reading comprehension that's needed.  You said his only low areas were math and writing.  If he's grade level with reading, it doesn't make sense to put him in a self-contained remedial class - it follows he should be with same-age classmates so he's in the Least Restrictive Environment.  I've seen students have behaviors when the instruction isn't at a good level for them.  Gifted kids will be bored and act out while those that can't keep up will get frustrated and act out.  My feeling is he's bored because he's average except for a math & writing disability which is what his eval showed.  Rather than remediate, the school wrote him off by putting him into this class.  He's not getting appropriate instruction.

So, what can you do?  You want to match the child the eval describes to the services they need.  He needs access to grade level for all but math & writing since these are the only areas of need.  He needs remedial instruction in math & writing to see about him catching up.  He might need a dysgraphia assessment given his writing issues.  He might need assistive technology in math & writing (talk to text) until he's closer to where classmates are or it might be for the long term.

When you looked at what he was being taught, it seemed to be well below what he's capable of doing.  He's pulled from the grade level classes he was attending so they can give him work below his classmates...and it seems like things would be similar if he went to a different school.

I remember being in a meeting with my director of pupil services.  What she said was that the school needed to meet the needs of the students and if the classes they had didn't do this, they needed to create a class that did.  If I had to guess, the other kids in your son's classes might be similar to your child.  I think you need a lawyer to get your child an IEP that is appropriate for him.  My suggestion is to reach out to the Disability Rights group in your state or your local Arc.  Tell them what's going on and get them to help you to work with (fight ?) the school for an education that's appropriate for your son.  Bring in other families and make it a class action suit - there is strength in numbers.

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