|Comment Period||Ends 11/5/2008|
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
As a mom of many hats to four children with different abilities, I have struggled while working with the schools to provide an education that will yield, at minimum, a standard diploma for my children. I am writing in my experience as a parent.
My oldest is 16 in tenth grade. During her 8th grade year, I was never informed or offered in her IEP the ability to do a VGLA. It was in my own search that I came across this option. She was a candidate, only passing one SOL from 3rd grade. If we missed that opportunity, we may be looking at an IEP Diploma today. VSEP in high school is another avenue that is not supported for those who have difficulties with SOL’s despite accommodations. Strengthening the support and access for equitable assessment would help those kids who can’t perform with standard SOL’s.
My two youngest sons in 3rd grade have various differences that make taking accommodating SOL’s challenging. Within their abilities, they meet challenges with autism, partial blindness, dyslexia, ADHD, and severe dysgraphia. If VSEP were supported and readily available in high school, doing VGLA would be acceptable. Walls go up when asking for VSEP in high school, and ignorance is muck for VGLA in 8th. Also, within this age and population, taking SOL’s for practice and knowledge should still be offered. PSAT/SAT/ACT college exams have accommodations that should mirror high school accommodations on SOL’s. By taking the SOL’s (while filing VGLA/VSEP) would give practice and skill to fair on college entrance exams, and college exams itself.
In the world of technology advancement, SOL’s are moving to computers. For some kids, computers can offer advantages. The accommodation list for computers really needs revamping. Color/filter screens, enlarged font, voice over options, reading options, and hiding icons should all be standard accommodations. As an adult with dyslexia, I share the same frustrations my children experience when reading/typing from a bright screen with small fonts. Being successful under standard computerize testing reduces greatly when words/letters are distorted.
Inclusive education with supports in the general classroom is also a must to ensure that all students are covering material needed for a standard diploma. Knowledge of providing material in a variety of learning styles should also be supported. The SOL’s are formatted, mostly, for the auditory learner. Having SOL’s support a multi-sensory approach would help all children.
With current accommodations, my sons will not grow to gain a standard diploma (or greater) in the Virginia Public School System. If options do not change by the time they are in middle school, homeschooling seems to be the brighter option for their future employment and education.
In summary, I would ask that you
· look and revamp computer accommodations,
· make VGLA/VSEP offered and reviewed in each IEP during the 8th grade year,
· have avenues and supports in place for VSEP in high school,
· for those who take the VGLA/VSEP avenue, still have the opportunity to take the SOL’s accommodated for practice and knowledge for higher education opportunities,
· keep the kids all supported in a general educational setting,
· And lastly, look at the curriculum framework and add multisensory learning within the scope of SOL’s.
Thank you for your time in reading and considering my points of view.