Refuse Timed Assessments! #RTA

26 May

Divergents Magazine calls on every family who has a child identified as divergent -- LD, ADHD, ASD -- from this day forward, to refuse to participate in any form of timed testing. Never! Not one. Not a driver's licence exam.  No more. The principle of universal design, recognizes many ways in which neurotypical pedagogy unfairly privilege neurotypical student. In fact, perpetuation of this privilege is literally built into every assumption about learning -- but not one is as blatant as timed examinations. 

I just got finished crying with my fifteen year old daughter, trying to finish her school work, on line, with learning difficulties.  After being completely targeted and abandoned by the public schools system, paying for private tutors, and begging for testing. (I requested testing in writing for three years in a row... (That is on you, Steven Tuller!) Now, still unable to read fluently, at fifteen, I find myself borrowing every penny I can to pay for private school, so she won't continue to be shamed and targeted for her challenges by the very system that failed her.  This particular, experimental school -- un-accredited -- charges extra because of her diagnosis, but they honestly don't know much about different learning profiles. Call it willful ignorance.. or... perhaps it has just... hasn't been on their... docket... (other than the need to monetize the anomaly of course).  But this is how it is for millions of families.

Everything about the field of education has been completely transformed in the past two months. Everything, that is, except all the core assumptions that permeate the decision making, including this last minute shift. And who pays the price? Those who learn differently.  The long tradition of "Special Education" in high school -- paying some "aid" as little as possible to help kids get through standardized work for which they are underprepared -- is catching up to a lot of students and their families during this pandemic.  How many students feel completely alone and hopeless, ashamed of their inability to live up to unrealistic expectations?  How many parents are reliving this shame -- remember, divergence is hereditary --  completely incapable of helping.  I imagine millions of students and their parents are shaming and blaming themselves right now, drowning in the negative projections of the "experts." 

These "experts," most of whom hold a one year Master's of "SPED"  -- separate but inclusive,  charge twice as much to deliver the worst -- really, undefendably bad -- outcomes.  Statistically and anecdotally the system is failing, often harming our children, and charging us twice as much for the privilege. No matter how well reasoned their judgements may seem to each other, these "experts" have failed. Can you name any other industry with the failure rate of Special Education?

Are "timed assessment" the only problem? No! The whole system is a torture chamber of permanent trauma for millions of children, due to the lazy assumptions of the neurotypical majority. Nevertheless, refusing to take timed tests will jostle the system a little bit, be a little inconvenient. The neurotypical educators will be forced to bluster up from their fascinating crossword puzzles, or Sudoku, or whatever alphabetizing busy work their brains automatically churn out like phlegm. "Now, now, now!" They will stamp their feet, "What is all this nonsense about, anyway?" 

Anyone, whose child is suffering under the neurotypical education system during this unprecedented experiment with "distance learning" will tell you.  It's about this: systematically destroying the self concept of 14 -30% of the population for generations.


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