Until this year my daughter was a straight A’d student, and her experience with Oklahoma schools was great. I always attributed her success in school to her smarts and her self-discipline. She’s one of those kids that comes home, does her homework, and asks you to check it all without any prompting what so ever from an influencing adult. It’s pretty amazing. I’m almost jealous of that natural ability that she has.
So needless to say her father and I this year, 4th grade, when we checked her grades on-line for the first time we were shocked to see that she was suddenly flunking all of her tests. Sure she was getting perfect scores on her daily work, but her test scores were shocking. We contacted her teacher and her solution? “4th grade is a hard year. She needs to learn to study.”
I did not know how to respond to this as this teacher obviously did not know my child at all. So we set up a parent/teacher conference, and about 5 minutes in we got the “she needs to learn to study” comment again. That’s when I pulled out the tests we’d been collecting and showed that perhaps that it wasn’t that she needed to learn to study. Perhaps she was having reading difficulties as the questions she kept missing? They were styled exactly the same way. Then we got a “Maybe she has a processing disorder. I’ll watch her.”
A little while passed and nothing changed. So knowing the way the school system works I knew that if I really wanted anything done I had to contact the school counselor.
Warning: If you were unaware the school counselor acts in a similar way as the HR department in a corporation. On the outside they present themselves as there to help your child. But really helping children is their secondary function, and their main function is to protect the school. It is important that if you ever have experiences with the school counselor you know this fact.
When I contacted the school counselor, I told her about the fact that my super, self-disciplined daughter who loves school went from being a straight A’d student to flunking all of her tests. After receiving my e-mail the school counselor then called my super shy daughter who won’t talk to strangers in to talk to her before talking to me first. She asked her if there was anything in the classroom that bothered her, and of course my daughter says, “No.” She doesn’t know this lady. Why is she suddenly going to open up to her? She’s not.
The counselor then talks to my daughter’s teacher, and the teacher tells her that there might be a processing disorder. It is finally at this point that the counselor contacts me a couple of days after my e-mail. I tell her about my concerns once again. She tells me about what she’s learned from my daughter and her teacher, and she says that they are going to make up a TASK group for my daughter.
A TASK group is a group that basically consists of the school counselor, the child’s teacher, and two random teachers. They observe your child and look for ways to help your child improve in school.
After several months of observations, if my child has not improved the school moves to the testing stage to see if indeed my child has a processing disorder and needs an IEP. So basically my daughter’s school has figured out they can delay spending the money necessary to help my child through an IEP by putting forth a very, very long observation period. Meanwhile, they allow the child to flounder and get further and further behind. What a great solution that have developed to get past the fact that the Oklahoma government doesn’t give them enough money to function properly.
So the TASK group has been in place for a while now, and quite frankly I see no change what so ever in the way my daughter is being handled in the classroom. I have received zero communication from the school counselor. I have received minimal communication from the teacher, usually started by me. And at home she is studying 2-3 hours a night minimum just to keep up.
My daughter now cries on a regular basis calling herself “stupid,” and last night she told me that she doesn’t want to study any more, and she no longer cares if she passes her tests.
This “evaluation” process that her school as come up with to delay testing has broken her. And my once self-motivated, self-disciplined child? She’s gone, at least as far as school is concerned.
When talking to my husband last night about this situation he succinctly summed up the problem.
- My daughter was a self-confident, straight A’d student who loved school.
- My daughter is now flunking her tests, does not care about school, and calls herself “stupid.”
- We at home have done everything we know to do to help her.
- Half of the school year is over.
- We have not seen any change in the classroom since the school got involved.
- We are on the verge of permanent damage when it comes to school and her attitude about it.
- Her Oklahoma school needs to become active now in helping my child, not months from now.
So last night I sent another e-mail requesting an update from the counselor and her teacher. I offered the “I’m so stupid” comments up as a desperate plea hoping to tear at their heart-strings so that something would actually happen. Furthermore, I offered up my own plan for my daughter in the classroom as I feel like they are taking entirely too long to come up with something for my daughter themselves. Hopefully they’ll hear me, will care, and will take some action.
In the mean while I’m researching and talking to experts outside of Oklahoma trying to figure out what to do for my child. Call me cynical. But I just don’t trust that Oklahoma has my child’s best interest at heart.
Update November 15, 2011: I talked to my daughter’s teacher the day that this posted. I ran into her at school as I was there to pick her up early for a doctor’s appointment. She was upset to hear about my daughter crying in the evenings, and verbally went over her science test with her verbally. She passed. She also offered to help to tutor her daily, so that she wouldn’t have to spend so much time at home studying. I was grateful to have this exchange with her, and was pleased to see that she was concerned.
I have yet to hear from the school counselor.
Kelly Kinkaid enjoys writing about such topics as stretching a dollar, personal finance, diet and fitness, and living a life well lived. She spends all of her spare time in her many roles including but not limited to soccer, basketball, swimmer, band, and piano mom, runner and wife. You may contact her via e-mail kellyology(at)gmail(dot)com.