Saturday, March 20, 2010

Report Cards

Growing up, I looked forward to report cards.  Actually, I LOVED getting my report card.  I was a wee bit of a goody-goody or over achiever and school always came easily and naturally to me.  So, my report cards were always positive and reflected my ability at school.  My parents didn't give me a monetary reward or anything (seeing as I didn't need it), but they showered on the praise and that was enough for me.

Now, as a parent, report cards are... well... a completely different experience.

I mean, it seriously couldn't be more different.

Finleigh?  Well, she's 3 and in a special program so she just gets a little report.  Nothing too worrisome there as her attention span seems to be improving and she's communicating well... in her non-verbal kind of way.  Of course, she's only added 2 or 3 words to her vocabulary since September, but still she's progressing.

Nate?  Well, he can't jump as far as they'd like.  Or hop on one foot.  And he's still struggling with some of his consonant sounds, but it's nothing too out of the ordinary and he will catch up with those little details.  He's well behaved in class and is scoring at grade level in everything that counts.  If they weren't tied down by the curriculum, they'd know that Nate understands how to count up into the thousands and he can sound out simple 3 letter words.  But he's only 4 and it's not a race.  He sees his brother doing these things and wants to try them himself.  He's going to be like me (I hope) and school will come naturally to him and he'll excel.

So maybe, one day report cards won't be something to be dreaded.  Except...


Shoot. Me. Now.

First of all, he's failing health.  How does a kid fail health???  And he's failing communication.  What the heck is communication and how does a kid as articulate as Willem fail communication?  Oh ya.  He shuts down every time he's upset.  Which makes him uncommunicative and uncooperative.  Which is why he's now seeing a child therapist.  For 5 sessions at minimum, but I suspect we'll be regular customers for much, much longer than that.

Okay, okay.  I get that he's only in grade 2.  This isn't the end of the world and heaven forbid that I be one of those pushy parents that expects more from their children than they are prepared to give.  I mean, it's not like they're going to look back at his grade 2 report card when he's applying for jobs one day and refuse him employment just because he couldn't play nice with others when he was 7.  I get that.

And if I seemed upset in the previous two paragraphs... just wait.  Here comes my real frustration.

My son is reading at least two grade levels above his grade.  I don't need tests to know that.  I see it.  The child reads really, really well.  And he understands what he reads.  I know he does.  And because of this, he's getting enrichment at school.  He has a home reading assignment every week where he has to read a book once a week and then answer some questions about it.  And he's reading 100 -150 page novels.  Beverly Cleary, Geronimo Stilton, E.B. White (Stuart Little), The Magic Treehouse series.  He reads one of those every week.  And that's on top of his weekly library reads that include books like Harry Potter.  I know he's not the only 7 year old that devours books like this, but I also know that this is ABOVE GRADE LEVEL.

Now doesn't it make sense that if a child is reading about grade level, then their reading grades would reflect that?  In a perfect world, that is how it would work however in Will's world, it means that he scores a 3/5.  That's right, my 7 year old that knows how to spell words like "adventure" and reads at least 2 kid novels a week scored a solid 60% in reading on his grade 2 report card.

I cannot tell you how angry this makes me.  I am so angry.  The least that this child - who struggles through each day of school to not explode with boredom and pent up frustration - deserves is to be recognized and rewarded for his talent.  But nope.  The teacher is testing him at a higher grade level...where she feels he should be and grading him based on that.  Without clarifying this in the report. If someone looked at his report card, they would think that he's just barely reading at grade 2 level.  And I talked to her about this last term too.  Obviously I didn't make my point well enough.

Now to be fair, I'm perfectly aware that Willem doesn't take tests well and when it comes to answering those comprehension questions he often refuses to answer them or freezes up or overthinks or something.    He's been known - when being asked an oral question about a story by his teacher - to say, "the answer's right there, read it yourself."  And it's very possible that she did test him at the grade 2 level and it was so simple that he decided it wasn't worth his time and he refused to do the work and that's why he did so poorly.  I haven't talked to her yet.  But I do know that there is something very, very wrong with this system if my son is only scoring 60% in reading.

His new therapist has a theory that his processing skills aren't as advanced as some of his other abilities and that is why he's doing poorly in school.  It's very possible.  In fact, it's probable.  What that means for how to educate him properly, I don't know.  But it does make for a frustrated mommy.  I don't care if he gets straight A's, but I would like his report card to reflect his ability.  I don't want to tell his teacher how to do her job and I hate confrontation, but I'm gonna hafta talk to her.  Again.

Anyone have any thoughts or advice out there?  I can use all that I can get.


  1. ok... so I actually burst out laughing at the "the answer is right there, read it yourself" line. He is just so right. Sigh.

    And you know I understand report card angst so I won't bother to tell you all the ways I get it. And I used to love report cards too.

    We get report cards next week. The very thought makes me feel ill.

    I just want to mention that I think you should fight to change Will's IEP to include alternate testing strategies. Basically when kid does great but tests crapp-ily they should be tested differently. He should be penalized for having a different learning style. It is just like kids with Aspergers - or other special needs- they need to be tested differently. I know that it is possible because Aiden gets tested differently sometimes.

    Maybe you should just put a sticky label on his report card and write down the books he read this year so that when he looks back someday he will see that the grades do NOT reflect his abilities.

    Hugs dear friend. I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

  2. You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view