Since I am the author of this post, I just wanted to give some background for the reader that may not follow my blog and is wondering about my authority on this subject matter. I am a former 5th grade teacher. I worked in a public school system for 32 years. I am quite certain that if I was an Educational Psychologist or a Principal or Superintendent, my perspective on this would be slightly different. But this is the easiest way that I can describe how our school went about supporting students who needed additional levels or support in the classroom. Your school district may do things differently. And, to be honest, the school district that I have recently left may be doing things differently today than when I was there. But, this will give you a loose idea of what to expect.
I always think that when a parent or caregiver is told that their child may need further testing, the alarm bells go off in their head and they suddenly think something is wrong with their child. I know that when my child had to go through this testing as a youngster, I was a little bit worried as well. I knew he was very bright, but he had a speech issues, and after trying all sorts of things, he eventually had an IEP. He worked very hard and only needed speech suppport for a few years, but I can tell you, being on the parent side of things is definitely different than being on the teacher side of things.
Let me tell you a little bit more about some reasons your child may need to have some academic testing done in the school setting and why it is a good thing. So sit back, relax, and hopefully I can shed some light on this for you.
First of all, this isn’t something that suddenly comes up. If it is, I would say that someone wasn’t communicating with you in the first place. If the school system that your child is in does a good job of communicating concerns with you, then this idea of “testing” won’t be a surprise at all.
Typically, children are tested for academic issues after all other avenues have been explored. When a child begins to struggle in the classroom, most teachers will reach out to the family and let them know that there may be issues. Teachers do this to inform parents of the problem, and most of the time, the teachers will inform you that they are going to try some things in the classroom to add support for your child.
The teacher will typically try those strategies out for about 4-6 weeks, they will document how things are going, and then they will follow up with some sort of communication with the family. Many times, as a new strategy is implemented, the problem will just remedy itself.
If that strategy didn’t work, the teacher may try a few more times to do some sort of in-class intervention. The teacher will document again, then fill you in on the results. However, if those strategies don’t work, then they will most likely get a team involved. This is typically made up of an administrator or school teaching coach, and then several teachers in the building. You may or may not be invited to this meeting, but the teacher will report what the team thinks should be tried in the classroom. They may offer suggestions of things that you can try at home as well. They will try the intervention for 4-6 weeks, they will meet again, document what has happened and will inform you about it.
Depending on the school system, and the strategies and systems that are in place, your child may go through several of these interventions during the year as the team documents things and continues to provide supports within the classroom. Your child may even get some pull-out time where someone in the school system will work with your child one-on-one.
Many times the team will tell you that your child has a 504 Plan or something like this. It depends on the state or country your child is in. This is a formal plan of action that should be followed in the school system to support your child as they learn. As the team continues to meet to see if things are working or not working for your child, the teacher will inform you of the progress.
If this level of support isn’t working, that is when you may be told that your child qualifies for some academic testing. This is when an Educational Psychologist will meet with your child and take them through a series of “tests.” These tests provide data for the psychologist to analyze at a deeper level than a classroom teacher can. They will create a report that you will go over with them at a meeting called an MDT (Multidisciplinary Team Meeting).
This meeting will simply cover what was discovered from the data that was collected about your child. This is when your child may or may not qualify for special education services. If your child qualifies, it is up to you to determine if you want your child placed in this program. If you agree, then an IEP (individualized education plan) will be shared with you about the amount of time your child will receive support during their day at school. The report will tell you what they get services for, and who will be providing those services. It will tell you specific ways the teachers will provide accommodations for your child. And, it will also tell you if your child gets extended breaks, additional time to complete assignments, and other things that will provide support for your child during their day at school. It will state the goals your child is to meet.
Once you sign the paperwork agreeing to these terms, your child will be allowed the accommodations listed. If you do not agree, then your child will go back to regular classroom setting.
Your child will be re-evaluated every three years once they are in the Special Education Program, to see if there is still a need for these services. You will also receive updates about their progress at each grading period. This is typically done during parent teacher conferences and also done with written reports when report cards come home. You will also have a yearly IEP meeting to adjust the plan of action for your child. Your input will be asked at the IEP meetings, so come prepared to share things your child is doing well with, and things you would like to see your child supported with.
What are some of the things that could qualify your child for testing? (This list came directly from: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/iep.html
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- cognitive challenges
- developmental delays
- emotional disorders
- hearing problems
- learning problems
- physical disabilities
- speech or language impairment
- vision problems
You may be a homeschooling parent and wonder if your child can get these services as well. Yes, you can. But you have to be willing to work with your child’s home district. I always encourage homeschool families to be sure to get that support.
If your child is struggling in school, do not wait for the school district to take action. If you see a problem, you can always reach out to your child’s teacher. However, do not just show up at their door and expect a meeting. You need to treat them like your doctor and set up a meeting time that will work for them. Be considerate of their time. If they ask you to come before or after school, do this. They are most likely meeting with you outside of the contracted hours, so come prepared with your questions and concerns. Be willing to listen, and be willing to do some things at home to support your child as well. After all, you want your child to be successful at school.
If your child is seeking help outside of their school day, search for a qualified tutor that can support them in the subject they need help with.
I hope you now understand the process of “testing” and that it doesn’t have to be scary.
For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl be sure to visit https://linktr.ee/sheryluehling.