Why do we get all hung up about trivial stuff? Does it really matter how fast a child writes, especially in this digital age of typing? The purpose of writing is communication. Is writing speed or legibility a barrier to effective communication? Should lack of motor control be a barrier to Science education? Can’t a child in a wheelchair get a Science education? Will our education system stop the development of our own future Stephen Hawking?
When we assess like this, what exactly are we assessing? When a child fails a Math test, are we assessing his Math skills or his skill in reading and understanding directions? When a child fails an English test, did we just test his learning or was it a writing speed test? When we test a child’s comprehension, do we test his understanding of the subject, or do we test his reading speed? Timed tests- what information do they really give teachers and parents about a child’s learning?
Are tests really constructed to measure learning or the child’s weakest link? This is where accommodations and modifications come in. Accommodations are not a free ride to a child with limitations. We are not handing the child an easy pass. Accommodations are meant to level the playing field. After giving a child accommodations and modifications, the difficulty level then becomes the same for all in the class. That is the purpose of accommodations. As the name implies, accommodations help the child get past his or her weakest link. Only then can the child gain access to the actual intended learning.
School administrators and teachers are moderately generous, even if only in spirit, when accommodating a child with a visible disability. Children with invisible disabilities get a really raw deal under the present educational system. Things need to change, or many potential thinkers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, philosophers will fall through the cracks… What a loss that would be!