|How did we ever get to this place?
By Debra Helms
I am a concerned parent
from North Carolina....I don't know where to go for help. I have sent letters
to the principal, my son's teacher, the county superintendent, the Director
of Accountability Services state level, and the county school board. What
can I do? I am only one parent very concerned
my 5th grader's future.
I wrote the following letter
to my son's teacher (on February 1, 2001)...I have received no response
from her (as of February 15, 2001).
Yesterday I received
the "Parent Alert Letter, Grades 4 & 5". I must tell you I was very
upset. This entire school year I have been writing letters, sending e-mails,
going to meetings, making phone calls, and asking questions about this
writing test and the impact to my son. I have gotten no returned phone
calls, no responses to my inquiries. At the beginning of the school year,
I asked about having Casey tutored in writing. This would be a supplement
to ongoing class work training for the writing test. You assured me he
would be fine.
This letter states, "he
will be provided remediation" during grade 5 "as necessary...to..reach
an appropriate level of proficiency...". What "remediation" has been provided
for my son? This letter also states he will be "subject to retention" for
a repeat of the fifth grade if he does not pass this "Writing Test". It
flabbergasts me to think a student can pass all courses, then be held back
because of one writing test, that is graded on a purely subjective basis,
by the employees of a contracted grading company!
The threat of "required
to attend summer school..." is negligible, as Casey went last year to help
him learn the "formula" necessary to pass this so called "writing test".
It did not help then, and I don't believe that it will help him in the
future. Narrative writing is an art form, a skill, like drawing or music;
that some people will never have the ability to do. If the talent for music
is not there, no amount of practice or training will make a person a musician.
Neither Casey nor I have been told what is wrong with his writing. He doesn't
understand the "formula" that is to be used, based on the "prompts" given;
and frankly, neither do I. Casey is a smart child, but he has been totally
turned off to writing. So far, nothing has motivated him to want to write.
When will I know the results
of the county level test he took yesterday 1/30/01? I want answers before
we waste any more valuable time. What is it that will help Casey?
I would like for you to
know...that we finally met with the principal, the teacher, and the writing
assessment person at the county level. I asked the question if Casey were
to fail "what would they do for him next year"? They informed me and my
husband that they wouldn't do any more than they were doing this year.
I was also informed at that meeting that they were keeping a writing portfolio
and Casey probably would not fail because of his writing. To me the point
was not that he would fail, as much as what will happen in the coming years.
How would he progress? That day we found a tutor for Casey (an English
teacher I had in high school - I graduated in 1973), he took great interest
in Casey. This wonderful man tutored Casey three (3) days a week. Casey
got his score back last week - 3.0 on the writing test. To me, the worse
part was Casey had lost all of his confidence. Since Casey's score came
back - you can't believe the difference in his confidence and his work
at school. We are doing something terribly wrong to our children when we
destroy their confidence. Casey is a bright boy...and all boy. It saddens
me to think what North Carolina is doing to our Children. How did we ever
get to this place?