In the beginning of October, I received a new fourth grade student named Adrian. Adrian came from a rural school district in Iowa, where he had attended since he was six years old. Within the first week of Adrian’s arrival at Anson Elementary, he was performing grade levels below his peers. His school records did not arrive until two weeks after his start date in October. When looking at his records, it stated on his 2015-16 Iowa Assessments that he was on grade level for math and reading. His report card gave “not proficient” levels for all content areas.
Adrian had no records of receiving special education services, but did receive Title services. He also received services for being an English Language Learner. In Adrian’s records, it also stated that he repeated first grade. The academic behavior that Adrian was performing in October was not matching the Iowa Assessment scores that were given by his past school district. When doing more testing on his academic abilities, Adrian, a fourth grade student, was performing at a beginning, second grade level in math and reading.
After receiving parent permission, a General Education Intervention was started on Adrian to find the best services to meet his needs. The GEI process has three tiers. Each tier is about three weeks long, consisting of different, intensive interventions. Data is gathered during each tier to determine if more intensive intervention is needed. After four months of gathering data, it was determined by the district’s special education advisor that Adrian was eligible for special education services in reading and math.
Five months after Adrian arrived in October to Anson Elementary, he started to receive pull-out services in reading and math in the beginning of February. He also continues to receive English Language services. FEELINGS: Frustration – My feeling was frustration because Adrian had been to one school his whole life and was at the second grade level for reading and math. Infuriated – I felt infuriated because the summative and formative assessments were not matching at all from his previous school.
His formative assessments concluded that he was below grade level and the summative concluded that he was at grade level. Failure – I felt that the education system had failed Adrian because he was not getting services to help him. THOUGHTS: When Adrian’s records arrived at Anson Elementary, I thought there might be something wrong behaviorally with Adrian because his academic needs were not matching the Iowa Assessment scores that were sent from his prior school. Adrian’s Iowa Assessment scores showed that he was at grade level, and we were testing him at least two grades below grade level.
I thought summative assessments should match the formative assessments. Adrian’s report card and work samples from his previous school showed low performance, which did not match with his summative assessment (Iowa Assessments). Since Adrian was performing grade levels below his peers, I thought the GEI process would be expedited. I thought skipping Tier One and Tier Two Interventions was a possibility because of Adrian’s performance. Since he was performing so low, I thought I could start him at Tier Three, which is a one-to-one ratio intervention.
LEARNINGS: Step 1: After working with Adrian, I assumed quickly that there might have been testing fraud at his previous school. A potential bias I had was that his previous school did not have the tools to help an English Language Learner, and chose a route that would make the district appear proficient. My administrator assumed that Adrian was a good guesser on the Iowa Assessments and that is why his scores were drastically different then his report card and work samples from his previous school.
I also assumed other educators would see and understand the desperation I had to help Adrian, and would allow me to skip GEI steps in order for Adrian to receive services quicker. Step 2: It is valid for me to think that there could have been testing fraud at Adrian’s previous school. According to The Atlantic, an American Magazine located in Boston, Massachusetts, stated that teachers have cheated on high-stake student assessments. The article focused on the conviction of 11 Atlanta, Georgia educators who had involvement to alter student test scores.
There was also a two-year-long investigation that found almost 180 educators and three dozen principals that manipulated student’s performance scores in at least 44 schools. “The State’s investigation into the data from Georgia’s standardized tests in reading, language arts, and math concluded that thousands of children were harmed because they were denied remedial education they might have needed but failed to qualify for because of their inflated CRCT scores. ” (Ross Terrance F. , Wong, Alia. When Teachers Cheat” The Atlantic. Apr 2, 2015. )
All Iowa Assessment tests have over twenty questions per section. For each question on Iowa Assessment, there are four answers to choose from, which means there is a 25% chance to guess correctly. For a student to guess correctly for majority of the questions is a slim chance. As my administrator stated, that Adrian guessed really well on the test could be accurate but very slim. For me to assume that I could skip through steps of the GEI process is not valid thinking.
According to Sam Peske, AEA 267 special education consultant, a student to be considered for possible special education services, data from each tier intervention needs to be done accurately or the data is not usable. Step 3: My background to help others comes through when I teach my students. I will go out of my way to find the resources to meet the needs of all my students. When I saw that Adrian was hurting academically, I wanted to help him as quickly as I could.
I also understand the pressures that come from government officials and administrators. There is pressure to meet a certain standard of achievement for students. Going through the critical reflection, I learned that helping others is key but the process needs to be done correctly. Educators cannot take loop-holes or shortcuts APPLICATIONS: Step 1: Working with Adrian this past year has definitely helped my grow personally. I am reminded to do what’s right now matter the work or consequences. My strive to help others has gone beyond the needs at school.
I feel the need to connect with community members in my district that are not familiar of their rights and how to access proper resources. I also feel that I have grown professionally, as well. I now have a stronger need to communicate with parents on how their child is learning and behaving in school. I use to only communicate when there was an issue at school, but now I feel that parents need to know more on what is happening in education. Step 2: When I read the article, “When Teachers Cheat,” from The Atlantic, I was reminded that corruption does happen and it does exist.
I understand there are pressures in education, but I know in the future I will continue to advocate for my students. By advocating, I will find the right resources to meet the needs of all my students. Each student that enters into my classroom deserves to receive the best education possible. I will start asking the difficult questions that perhaps are not mentioned because of possible negative attention. I now understand that students have very little voice in their education. Teachers need to stand-up for what is right and ask question when things do not make sense.