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Success Story:
How My Son with Down Syndrome Passed High-Stakes Tests

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My son Dylan is eleven years old. He has Down Syndrome. Since he was six years old, the IEP team tried to talk me out of having him take any standardized testing. Despite the pressure, I insisted that he take these tests.

Measuring What He Learns

I wanted my son to be re-evaluated every few years. I knew he had to be able to tolerate testing or we would have no idea what he had learned.

Later, I wanted to determine his progress from year to year.

Getting Comfortable with Tests

The first time he was tested, the experience was
overwhelming for him - he freaked!

Our goal was to help him get used to taking tests. At first, he was reinforced each time time he answered a question (right or wrong). As time passed, he was able to answer a page of questions, then a section, then a subtest, etc.

Finally he was able to take a complete test without any reinforcement.

Dylan's Scores

In general, standardized tests are language-based and this is Dylan's main area of difficulty. Dylan took the Terra Nova test with only the accommodations the school would allow (we had more battles about this).

I am happy to report that Dylan scored in the average range in all skill areas except two - reading vocabulary and the reading composite score (which includes the reading vocabulary score). In these two areas, he scored above average!

I am still holding my breath to see if the school sends me a letter claiming that his scores are invalid.

Testing is Essential for Accountability

Testing is essential for accountability. Parents need to decide what skills they want their child to learn and how these skills will be measured. Parents need to find out what accommodations can be used so the child's learning can be tested.

The bottom line is that many school people don't want "those kids" to take standardized tests. We had a real fight to get them to test Dylan. The school staff and I continue to argue about accommodations and we don't always agree.

Although Dylan is included (another long fight), he is still in special education.

When I read articles about high stakes testing on your Wrightslaw site, I was excited to find people who don't think that I am crazy for insisting that my child take these tests.

A million thanks for your information and inspiration. Dylan has benefitted from your work.

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