The state of education is a sad, sad affair these days for my special ed students. They have a variety of differences - learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, behavioral issues, dyslexia, autism, processing and memory problems, etc - and yet the state and federal government lets us take virtually none of that into account when we assess them with state testing. Here's your cookie cutter, one size test that is supposed to fit pretty much all of the kids who fall under the special ed umbrella. How are we NOT leaving kids behind when we blithely give them tests that don't adequately measure their annual progress.
If they all read on grade level, they wouldn't be classified as special ed. If they could comprehend concepts after they're presented a couple times, then of course they'd be expected to take the state tests. If they weren't worried about a parent going to jail, where the next meal will come from and if they'll get kicked out of the trailer park for an inability to pay the rent when it's due, then of course they'd be more apt to absorb the lessons presented to them. Of course they would get their homework done if they had parents who could comprehend 5th and 6th gr materials. They'd all show up to school well fed and rested, rather than dozing off in class and asking me repeatedly when it's time for lunch.
I try to do what's best for my students, but I can't do enough to get them to pass the state test. So they fail, and this chips away at the little bit of self esteem they possess. By the time they're in 5th and 6th grades, the ages I serve, they know they're different. They've known for several years that school is hard and they don't "get it". Why must we beat them down further with this test that shows us nothing but their shortcomings.
I teach because I enjoy the challenge and joy of working with children. I give the test only because it's the law and I have no other choice. And I loathe seeing the defeated looks on their precious faces because we're demanding something of them that they're incapable of giving us. Our education system is failing them in myriad ways and there's not a thing being done to rectify this injustice. I don't think they should get special dispensations. But at least level the playing field, for Pete's sake.