News4Jax is reporting that the districts Florida Alternative Assessment (FAA) scores are way up. If you don’t know this is the test that is administered to severely and profoundly disabled children instead of the Florida Standards or what used to be the FCAT.
There is some controversy surrounding it because last year the state insisted it be given to a profoundly mentally handicapped child on their death bed and no I can’t make that up. Plus a lot of special education teachers of profoundly handicapped children think it is a travesty and unsuited for testing them.
Now you might be thinking because our scores are up we must be doing something right, well no because at least part of the reason is as wrong as it gets.
It used to there were basically three levels of disabled children, ones that could be in the general ed setting, ones that were profoundly disabled and ones in between which were generally put in what were called Varying Exceptionality (VE) classes, which were watered down academic courses, that led to what was called a certificate of completion not a high school diploma. A couple generations ago a lot of these kids would have been our shop kids and would have graduated at least with a trade or some skills training.
The truth is at some point we started to do a lot of these VE kids wrong. I felt many with smaller classes, modified materials, extra time and a little bit of flexibility, many could pass the general education curriculum and I have a pretty good idea about this because I taught VE science for three years.
As usual the state went to far and phased out the VE classes and dumped what were the VE kids into regular education classes were more than a few swam but more than a few sunk too.
This brings us to the FAA. At Ed White High School and I have to believe if it has happened there it is happening elsewhere, instead of putting some of these former VE kids into the regular ed setting where sadly they would flounder and the chances of them passing the Florida Standards was low, they have been putting them into the intellectually disabled classrooms where they are grossly misplaced but there they don’t hurt the stats of the school and actually help the FAA stats because that is the test they have been talking.
The FAA where to high and inappropriate for a lot of the profound kids is to low and just as inappropriate for these kids.
This by the way is not completely the districts fault. Tallahassee as it often does tied the district’s hands by phasing out classes that were more appropriate for some of our kids but here is the thing, right is right and wrong is wrong and we did and continue to do some of these kids wrong. The very least we can do is not celebrate when the stats improve on a test that at least some of then should not be taking.