Monday, November 15, 2010

Special Needs Kids Are Screwed at Report Card Time

So this has bothered me for a long time and with report cards having just been sent home it is bugging me again. It;s like the monster that comes home every 9 weeks to torment my family.

My daughter is special needs. She is in special classes but even though she has learning disabilities and doesn't learn like the typical child she still tries very hard. She had perfect conduct this time but her grades were pretty low (as usual).
Here is what irks me. For special needs kids they already struggle but when it comes to grades, they have a very hard time making all A's and B's so High Honor Roll and Honor Roll are practically unattainable for them. The standards and scales used to grade them are completely messed up.

After reviewing her report card regardless of academic grades we ask "Did you try your best?" and if she says yes we tell her we are proud of her. But we put also put a higher value on conduct. We always say that you can't always control what you understand but you control the way you behave. But honestly for her this isn't always true.

And as for conduct if you get teachers that don't understand that often special needs children have other issues or side effects of their condition the report cards could tell the story of a child who not only isn't learning but also has behavioral issues.
My child forgets things. It's hard for her to be prepared for class when her mind just doesn't let her remember all the things asked of her. Also she can't help shouting answers. It's not that she doesn't want to practice self control but she is on medication for impulsivness and when she experiences extreme emotions has a hard time not having mild outbursts. She can't keep her hands to herself because she has sensory issues and relies on touch to convey feelings or understand things. She wants to follow directions but her auditory processing disorder makes it hard to focus and hear what anyone says while other things are going on.
Thanks to a lot of work on my part and a new round of medications she didn't have tons of behavior indicators this time but it's the first time ever! And even if we had gotten bad marks we would have told her that it's ok and to try harder next time.  I am very proud but I am still frustrated at the lack of acknowledgement of these kids needs.

In each report card we get fliers offering freebies and discounts for kids with good grades. We basically throw these out because no matter how hard B tries she just won't have the grades to get a free ice cream or movie pass or kids meal. It's so discouraging for her.

And I HATE acting like grades aren't that important with her when my son knows that he better not bring anything below a C home. And this time when he got almost all A's we had to wait until she wasn't around before we could make a big fuss over how proud we were so B didn't feel bad. And if A has marks in conduct, of course we tell him to do better next time but usually he is is scolded and depending on the problem punished.

Having such drastic double standards is confusing for the kids and exhausting for me and James. I hate to blame the schools but they don't make this very easy on the kids or parents and I know I'm not the only parent with these issues.

Why aren't schools able to handle these kids better? Why is the grading and even FCAT process so screwed up? I wish schools would get a clue but that probably won't happen so like many parents in this situation I am looking into schools for special need children. Often these schools cost a big hunk of change. It's not fair that my special needs child can't get the same benefits from public school that every child is entitled to. She isn't severe enough to qualify for the counties special schools which are free yet she is severe enough to not get the attention and education she deserves from the regular schools. Why there is no place for these mid-line kids is beyond me.

So this Friday she will sit in a crowd with her schoolmates and watch as children on Honor Roll receive awards and kudos and accolades for their accomplishments. The one good thing is that unlike me she is good natured enough to just be happy for them and not bitter for the position she is in. Sometimes I envy her. I don't know what I would do with a heart as kind, warm and loving as hers but if everyone had one the world would be a much better place.


  1. You are teaching your daughter something that is far greater than good grades. She is learning that her best is indeed good enough. A lot of student who excel in school will never get to realize that because they are constantly trying to live up to and please their parents.

  2. Awe, thank you so much for that. That's the goal at least. As long as we can instill a sense of pride and accomplishment and hopefully the understanding that she doesn't have to be the best to do her best.