**Disclaimer** I didn’t sleep much last night so I expect major leeway in what actually gets put into this post.
**side note** Other than minimal brain function, that has absolutely nothing to do with what I have to say.
I had an email from Chi’s teacher Wednesday morning, early. (I don’t usually check my email before I take the kids to school because that can take more time than I have to give and we might end up being late. You know how it is.) I checked my email for reasons unknown and came across one from Mrs. Eff requesting an emergency conference and an immediate call back, which I did. We scheduled the conference for later in the day and I did a short scramble to find childcare for Pieces.
I get to the school and the conference isn’t just with Miz Eff, but also, with the PrinciPAL, Ms. A and a woman I know but have no clue what her job title is. We’ll call her EOG Admin (EOGA for short), as that seemed to be her duties in this meeting. (Ms. A is the 504 coordinator). There were some concerns that there was no way to meet all of Chi’s requirements for testing as laid out in his 504. I had talked a little about some of this with Miz Eff in March but I thought things were settled.
Here’s the score:
Chi’s 504 has some pretty specific requirements for him while taking the EOG. Things to help him cope better with a process that is likely to be very difficult for him to adjust to because it changes everything he knows to expect in school for three days only, but three crucial days. These things are (and I’m gonna use bullet points, YAY!) (in no particular order):
- He is able to write in his test book. Meaning that he doesn’t have to fill in little circles. For a kid who hates writing and coloring, that would be tedious at best. Also, he couldn’t stay in the lines to save his own life. And that’s a fact.
- He is to be in a group of kids of no more than 10 and no fewer than three (including himself). He does not do well at all when he is the center of any kind of attention. He does not perform. He will shut down. That is a fact. Also, if there are too many kids things get too busy and too distracting. Not good. Additionally, Chi is noisy. He is almost constantly making noise. When he is in a good mood and doing his work, they are little and quiet: hums and chirps and little squeaks, but when he is shutting down and having a bad day, they escalate in decibel level and intensity/frequency, etc. This is not a quiet kid. If he were to be too much of a distraction for the class, a mistest could be called and the whole class would have to be retested. Yeah. So not good. (oh, by the way? These noises are not something he does consciously. Yes, sometimes they are, but for the most part he has no control over them. For the record? Bringing them to his attention to makes matters worse.)
- He is to get as many breaks as he needs, whenever he needs. Chi is remarkable at focus. When he is enjoying himself. When he is uninterested he can take a task that should take 5 minutes and stretch into hours and hours of flopping and moaning or just diving into his inner world. Plus, he has movement needs.
- He is to wear his headphones. He has noise canceling headphones. They eliminate white noise, and most extraneous ambient and distracting noises and allow him to hear the teacher or those talking directly to him. It is like a miracle drug for his ability to cope.
- He is to be allowed as much extra time to complete the tests as he needs. Because his focus can wander and he can have shutdowns and he may need breaks as often as every 15 or 20 minutes, he will need extra time to complete his exams.
Well, I found out in March that there was no group that met all of his requirements, which meant that he would be alone with two teachers (the proctor and the administrator)(talk about center of attention, sheesh). There was one, however, that met most if Chi could have the test read to him (just the Math portions, not the Reading portions). Since the kids have been practicing taking the EOG in class and those practice exams have been read to them problem by problem, Miz Eff thought this might be a good fit for him. After some discussion, I agreed.
Yesterday they tell me that the group that meets all the other requirements has only one other kid in it. This is a problem if that kid is sick because that would leave Chi all alone, which is why the 504 stipulates no fewer than three kids. I was told that, really, Chi could write in the test book and wear his headphones in any group, so those aren’t deal breakers, but there was no one group that fit all of the other stipulations. So we set about deciding what was most important.
There was a group that fit everything, but the breaks were scheduled every 20 minutes. Miz Eff worried that with Chi being such a proficient reader such a rigid schedule would interfere with any groove he may get into with reading and answering the subsequent questions. So I pointed out the most important parts: he will need breaks and he cannot be alone. I, then, pointed out that while I found Miz Eff’s concerns valid, that Chi does really well with a rigid schedule and that the best solution would be to tell him what that schedule was going to be and let him know what time the timer started and what time it was set to go off. I think he would do fine with that. If every thing else was met in that scenario, then things should be set to run a smooth as possible for him.
PrinciPAL was worried that if Chi was sick that he would have to make up that testing day in a one on two scenario and I assured her that, if that were to be the case, then we could deal with that when it happened. It would be hard, but I think with the right prep, he would be semi-okay. Miz Eff then asked if she could be the one to administer any make up testing and was assured that, indeed, she could. That’ll make a big difference if that is a necessary thing.
EOGA was concerned that Chi was going to be uncomfortable with his testing administrator and has been pairing him for the last couple of weeks with a woman, Ms. Title 1 to be exact, who sees Chi at no other point. Thus eliminating any stress of feeling like he’s being judged by any of his academic authority figures, but still putting him with someone familiar.
So now, I come to it. I sat in this conference room, with these Education Professionals and boggled at how thoughtful and caring they were about this one student. These women have fought for Chi along side me. There has been no fighting, no head butting, nothing but cooperation and compassion. They truly care. They see the exceptional kid before them and not his issues. They want to help him.
Things have been far from perfect this year for Pynni and Chi has had his struggles, too, but in the end these people are trying, and in the case of Miz Eff going so far beyond that it takes my breath away. I sat in this room with these people, strangers really, who were fighting for Chi, and found myself, not questioning whether or not I should homeschool, but lamenting that they wouldn’t be in my children’s lives anymore. Homeschooling still solves so many problems that we will face in the future.
But I can’t say that I’m unhappy with the adults they’ve had in their lives thus far. I can say that I’m grateful. I can say that I appreciate what they’ve done; what they do.
When I left, they, each one, told me how amazed they were with my quick response and willingness to come in to meet with them so last minute. That still, flabbergasts me. Who wouldn’t, I think, this is for my son, how could I not?