High School Bumps, Bruises and IEP Short Comings

Well, Noah is entering 12th grade now.  He is almost 18 years old.  Time sure passes much too quickly.  Since moving to Pali High in 9th grade Noah’s self-esteem continues to improve.  He has found a core group of friends within the music program and even outside of the music program. The only thing he still struggles with is obtaining phone numbers and emails in order to hang-out outside of school.

The 9th and 10th grades seemed to help Noah gain confidence in his academic abilities.  He realized that he is intelligent and with the help of the accommodations, he can be successful.  He realized he will go to college.  Once Noah realized his potential, he began to use the extended time for exams along with the extend time on homework without any arguments.  Similarly, Noah only used  the extended time for homework when everything seemed due on the same day or when there was a huge exam Noah needed to study for first.

So what about 11th grade?  Last school year challenged him with content and workload.  Let’s not forget, Noah needed to prep for the ACT in the spring.  The ACT in itself was stressful.  Beware! The extended time isn’t automatically carried over from the IEP.  NOPE!  You need to apply for the extended time for both the SAT and The ACT.  At first, the SAT denied Noah extended time.  Their explanation stated we needed more proof of his disability.  So, we had to send them letters from a psychiatrist in addition to the amended IEP.  Finally, they accepted the proof and granted the extended time.  We then sent all the same information to the ACT with the approval letter from SAT.  The ACT granted us approval without hesitation.

So, why did we choose the ACT?  Well, at first Noah’s dad and I weren’t sure what to choose.  So we had Noah take the PSAT.  He took it twice.  Once without extended time and once with extended time. After taking the PSAT, we knew Noah needed to have either small group study sessions or one on one sessions in order to be successful.   I looked around our area and found a study center.  We decided to have Noah take a practice ACT exam and compare the results. The owner of the study center reviewed all the practice exams and said the format f the ACT would most likely be better for Noah.  So, that is how we chose the ACT exam for Noah.

Kids like Noah can’t just study from a book or website on their own.  We knew our child.  We knew he needed the small group or one on one attention.  This study sessions happened twice a week for one hour per subject.  This was expensive but worth it for the great outcome it produced.  Even though, Noah took the ACT twice with several practice exams in between, he rocked it!  In addition, Noah came out with better test taking skills.  He learned how to dissect the question and understand what the question is asking.  Yes, it was pricey.  No, the IEP doesn’t cover these sessions, although, it should.  But, wouldn’t it be great for schools with these amazing Aspie teens really took the time and money to prepare them for college and not just get them through high school.  These kids are able to go above and beyond a high school diploma.  It is time for schools to start working towards providing more support in order to make college accessible.  These study support classes should be provided.  It should be a class with more structure and clear learning goals rather than a class that is just a holding cell until the student’s next class. Moreover, where some of these students sit there and chat with their friends.

So let’s continue with 11th grade.  In addition to the ACT lingering over his head, Noah had two honors classes, English and History.  He wanted to continue with Algebra 2 while adding chemistry to the list of classes.   OYE!  MATH and CHEM.  Big mistake for a kid who struggles in Math.  But, he wanted to take chemistry.  If a students take chemistry, then the student needs to have taken or take Algebra 2.  Here we go, more money needed for the Math tutor.  No, the IEP doesn’t cover that either.  So, who pays for Noah’s tutor?  Ah, yes you are correct, we do!  Noah sat and worked with the tutor for 90 minutes or more once a week.  He past the first semester with a “C”.  However, the Noah wasn’t so lucky in the second semester.  He worked so hard.  He went to the math lab, he met with the teacher during office hours.  He just couldn’t get past a “D”.  So now, Nico needs to retake semester 2 of Algebra 2.  The school says he past and will get the credits.  However, he wants to attend college and the colleges don’t consider this passing.  This is why he needs to retake the second semester.
Where I work, if a special needs student receives a “D”, then the teacher isn’t working hard enough to help the student access the curriculum.  This is not the case at LAUSD.  They don’t have any such rule.  They will fail the kids with or without an IEP.  This part of their system needs to be modified as far as I am concerned.  If the student is failing something needs to be done.  In regards to Math, if students fail an exam, they should be able to review the exam and discuss the mistakes that were made.  These students should be allowed to retake the exams.  In addition if needed, these students should be allowed to have few questions on the exams.  At Pali, Noah never received any of his Math tests back.  So, he never really analyzed his errors.  He was allowed to retake standards tests but only at the end of the year.  The standard test consisted of two questions.  So, if you missed one question, well you failed.  What made no sense, is when Noah passed a standard.  Then, on his final he had a similar standard question and missed it.  Now, he failed it after passing it just days before.  Algebra 2 was such an emotional roller coaster for Noah.  The Special Ed department said their hands were tied because it was up to the teacher in regards to retaking the exams.  The teacher said her hands were tied as far as the standards exam and procedures.  The teacher stated it was up to the Math Department to make any changes to the procedures.  Special Ed. students need more support and possibly some modifications in the work load.  Educators need to start looking at what is best for the student in order to ensure learning.  Oh here is the best part of this final, if the student earns an “A’, the student’s grade only increases 3%.  If the student fails, then the student’s grade decreases by 10%. Fair?  Not in the least bit.  Can we say Math Department needs an overhaul!?

That is our year in a nutshell.  Now on to summer and camp.  More to come soon.

Thanks for reading.

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aspieteenz

I am Marie. I am a proud mom of Aspieteen. I am an educator in the public school system. I have seen and expierenced many school districts not meeting the needs on students with IEPs. This is frustrating to me as an educator and as a parent. Districts and schools seem to focus on the money and feelings of teachers rather than what is best for the student to be successful. Sometimes, I will share the interesting information I have found via tweeting and blogging. Then, other times, I will share my own personal experience at a parent with an exceptional teenager.

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