Did you know that national standards must be completed in written form and there is no provision for extra time or oral answers from students (oops, sorry, ‘learners’ in Parata-speak) with disabilities? At high school and uni, if you have the need, you get these things. National’s stupid national standards have no such flexibility. Instead, they label you a failure.
13 year old school boy Adam Hodgson has written a poignant speech on how national standards has labelled him a failure:
One size does not fit all, especially if it comes to national standards.
Why? . . . Because they do not recognise people like me who learn differently.
I firmly believe that we should change the testing systems for national learning standards to accommodate the needs of people like me who have learning differences.
Dyspraxia is a condition that affects the planning of my movements and co-ordination. It means that sometimes brain messages take longer to transmit to my body. It does not affect my intelligence, but it can cause some difficulty in learning…..
So when I am sitting a written test the time that is given me is usually not enough, because I need longer to transmit the messages to make my body write the information down…..
I am below the national learning standard but does that mean I’m dumb? No, it doesn’t. It just means that the method of testing is not suited to me…..
What happens with me in tests is I don’t think I have enough time. I have the answers but I use up a lot of brain power trying to get it all down on paper in time. If it was verbal I would ace it!
I would probably be at the national standard or above.
For all the normal people out there (whatever normal is) be tolerant and understanding because for someone who learns differently it does not mean that they are dumb or stupid, it just means that they get to the answer in a different way.
There are people out there who do understand, but there are some who don’t.
I might not be the best speller or mathematician in the world but give me time, help me and be assured that I will give it my best.
So you can see it is possible for people with a learning difference to succeed. It takes hard work, understanding teachers, and supportive parents.
So just because the national standards say that you are failing certainly does not mean that you are a failure.
The only bit where I would disagree with Adam is where he says that this is the only thing about national standards we need to fix. In fact, this problem is symptomatic of the deeper fault with national standards – they are the educational equivalent of setting the high jump bar at PE at an arbitrary height and labeling any kids who don’t make it over, for whatever reason, failures.
It tells you nothing of real value, it doesn’t even tell you much about the distribution of ability to meet the arbitrary test because the grading is so grainy (just 5 ‘grades’), it isn’t moderated, and teachers’ marking varies widely.