My son and daughter go to a great school. We bought our house based upon that fact. The teachers are thoughtful and the administration is progressive and responsive to the needs of the community. But a recent testing error nearly cost my son a place in the gifted program.
As last year drew to a close we were informed that many of the students in my son’s 2nd grade class had received unusually low scores on the MAP test. We were assured that the students would be retested, the error corrected in their records and there would be no other adverse effects. No answer was given as to why so many students had anomalous scores and I never really felt that there needed to be. It happens.
Yet meanwhile in the background, the bureaucracy was rolling along and the placement for the gifted programs in the district had begun. There decisions were based upon test scores and teacher recommendations. Yet when we called to ask how the situation would affect his placement we were told we would have to wait for a retest. Placements were made and no spots remained in the program. Done.
When summer came we called the district to ask what would happen when school resumed. We were told that the person responsible for testing was a ten month employee and would not return until the start of school. I was growing concerned.
The school year began we hadn’t heard from the district, but we were contacted by his new 3rd grade teacher and his teacher from the previous year. The two had talked and they were pushing for him to be retested and his placement reviewed. The heroes of this story are the teachers who applied this internal pressure on the district. The testing took place and three weeks into the year, my son was placed into an accelerated math course. While he qualified for other courses, no space was available.
As the year progressed, he has been moved into two other accelerated courses as space became available and he is, for the first time, loving school. On his last self-evaluation he is most happy with math because it is so fun and that he likes school a lot this year. Things worked out, for him.
Of the other students in his class, none made it into the gifted program. I wonder how this has affected them? I wonder what might have happened if we never heard about the testing error or if I hadn’t been a teacher aware of how to navigate school bureaucracy. I wonder what would have happened if his teacher hadn’t known him (better than any test could) enough to know that the score was wrong. I wonder why no one else questioned how his reading and math level appeared to drop by 3 full grades. But for this placement would anyone have noticed?
So as it stands my son is in ¾ of the classes that comprise the gifted program. He is in his same classroom but travels to another teacher frequently throughout the day. He is really happy, happier than in past years. The whole situation came about because for a moment in time he was reduced to a number, one that just happened to be completely wrong.