Showing posts with label visual processing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label visual processing. Show all posts

The Iowa Test, Visual Processing Disorder, and My Ego

"Answer Sheet" by nongpimmy

If you took the Iowa test as a kid, I'm here to tell you that it hasn't changed.  Students are still filling in circles with a number two pencil.  I thought maybe they would have developed a better system; it seems like there is so much room for error this way.  For example, you can accidentally fill in the answer on the wrong line or you can smudge the pencil and be marked wrong, but this is still the way the test happens.

Not many people take the Iowa anymore.  Most states take other tests based on the common core.  Even Iowa doesn't take the Iowa test from what I've been told.  I actually called the company and tried to find out who does take the Iowa test outside of homeschoolers and private school students, but I could not get a straight answer.  They gave me the names of a few states but when I looked those states up, I found that it was untrue.  I don't think the operator I spoke with knew what she was talking about.

Anyway, I would have loved to have A take the NJ Ask so that I could compare her last year's scores with this year's and so that I could see how she was doing compared to the kids in the public school system. I would have gladly paid money and done whatever I had to do to let her take that test.  The thing is, I'm not allowed to. Nobody is unless you are a public school student.

I have a bone to pick with that.  If we are constantly looking to improve education, wouldn't it be beneficial to get a sampling from students in all different educational settings? For instance, if the kids in the Montessori schools were blowing all the other kids away in Language Arts, maybe the public schools would be able to incorporate what they were doing to make education better for all.  If all the homeschooled children were doing poorly in math, then those parents would be able to get together and come up with a way to improve in that area, learning from the curriculums that prove to be the most successful.  If we all pooled our information and took the best parts of everything, we could really learn a lot and advance the country's education.

If the powers that be in public education are against homeschooling and believe they are superior, why not prove it by letting us take the same test and comparing the results??  Is that a challenge?  YES!!

I know homeschool parents typically want to be left alone.  In NJ they seem to be content in the fact that nobody checks up on us or tells us how to do things.  I like that, too, now that I have a year in.  Truth be told, in the beginning I would have welcomed the guidance and the checks and balances, just to make sure I was on track.  I was nervous about not "getting it right."  Now I know I got it right so I'm okay with all of our freedom, but sometimes I wish I could show some people in the field what we have accomplished this year, how hard A has worked, and how she overcame actual disabilities.  Maybe I want to show off....  But then again, I'd also welcome feedback and tips from people more educated and experienced than myself.

Mostly, I'd just really like to be able to have A take the NJ Ask so I could compare the numbers.  Since that wasn't going to happen, I did the only thing we could do, the Iowa.  Thank goodness I did, too, because I found out that if I want to put her back into school, I'll need this to help to ensure they put her back in the proper grade!  When I consulted lawyers who specialize in homeschool law in NJ I was told that the schools had to place her in the grade she belonged in and then if there were issues they would test.  Apparently, this is not the case.  We have to show work and tests, particularly standardized tests.  Fortunately, this has been the one area in my life that I have remained organized and kept EVERYTHING.  I have files and files on every subject, plus Time 4 Learning has everything we did online in a PDF document for us.

But I digress....

I'm more nervous about the Iowa test than A.  I honestly feel like it is me being tested.  I feel like this is going to be MY grade for how well I taught for the year.  I know intellectually that this is wrong, that it's not about me,  and that these tests really equate to nothing, but try telling that to my ego!  My ego, the one that was bruised and battered from all the nay-sayers, my ego that is dying to feel validated and prove once and for all that I made the right choice...

I bought and administered the practice test at home.  Those only had a few questions in each area and they were pretty easy. I think they were just to get a feel for how to take the test.  But one thing I saw was that on two or three sections in Language Arts the students have to pick which line of text has a mistake like a misspelled word or a missing period.  A, who is a language arts wizard, did terrible on this.  Why?  Because as we found on her eval last summer, she has a visual processing disorder in addition to her auditory processing disorder.  This makes it confusing to do those IQ tests where you have to figure out how to fit shapes together.  It also affects her reading.  When she is reading she will actually fill in words or replace them with other words that fit.  Basically, it's like her brain has auto-correct and she is unaware of when she is using it.  This does not affect her comprehension at all, just affects what she sees as she reads.

So let's say you reading this sentence.  Did you notice I just left out the word "are" in the previous sentence?  Or did your brain automatically fill it in?  A's automatically fills it in.

So, on those sections she does not think she did very well.  Since she scored at a level 16 on Language Arts when they evaluated her last year I am not too worried.  I decided to think more about how she is going to do on math and see how much she improves there.  So, when I asked her how she thought she did on the math sections she said, "I don't know."

I then asked, "Did you use your scrap paper?"

She said, "No we weren't allowed to."

Gulp.  I asked if there were long division problems and two or three digit multiplication problems.  She said there were.  Double gulp.  I said, "Well, how did you figure it out?"

She said, "The test said to 'compute.'" 

I explained that this does not mean you can't use scrap paper.  She said she visualized it in her head to solve it and that she was not allowed to use scrap.  I know she could have used it!  The practice test lets you use it!  Once again, the auditory processing may have messed up what she heard when she was being given instructions....

I am trying not to stress about this. 

I suppose this can be a lesson to that ego of mine: These tests, and what other people think, don't matter.  I know A learned.  A knows she learned.  We bonded this year.  She feels better this year.  I dare say, she is thriving.  The test means nothing.

I will try repeating this daily.

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