Testing, testing… 1, 2, 3

I’m not sure if I told y’all this, but last May I entered into conversations with the local elementary school about partial enrollment for BigGuy.  I wanted him in math and science.  They wanted him to start with art, music and phys ed.  Ummmm… nothanks.  And they wanted him to take some math test that would have determined whether he could be in advanced math… even though he wasn’t going to be put in math at the school.  Ummmm… no, thanks again.

Wait, wait, wait… I don’t mean for this to sound like the district people are unhelpful morons.  Quite the opposite.  Honestly and truly.  I mean, on one hand, yeah–not so helpful to suggest art, music and phys ed when we need science and math; but if I’d pushed it, I think I could’ve gotten some science and math answers.  And the principal of the elementary school makes a valid point that those are the tests they have for the kids BigGuy’s age–and they offer us all a starting point.  He’s right.

We submitted psychological testing that covered IQ, attention and cognitive abilities–so we were told that BigGuy didn’t need to take the CogAT tests.

The math test for advanced math is effectively an end-of-year test for the grade level to see if you can skip a grade level of math.  Now, if I were teaching BigGuy at home in lock step with what is taught in the schools–this would be relevant.  But we don’t do that.  So I suspect he could fail on fractions and metric system alone.  They won’t test him on Sigma notation or basic calculus functions.  Thankfully, the assistant superintendent I spoke with understood my assertion that in schools, we teach the kids based on what they need to know for life in case they don’t go any further than geometry.  But that doesn’t make all of it prerequisite to calculus.  None the less, the schools function in this mode–where you have to finish A before you go on to B even if A isn’t really prerequisite knowledge for doing B.

I’m reminded about why we homeschool.

But, BigGuy needs to know all of the lower level stuff to be allowed to go to the higher level stuff.  At least in math.  I’ll be honest–I think we might allow him to test in math.  I’d be interested to see how much he’s skipped over, and how badly his math facts issue will affect him in a test scenario.  The district DID say that if he scored high on the 5th grade math test, they would allow him to take the 6th grade math test to see if he could then skip 6th grade math.  I’m not sure if they are always willing to do that or if our situation made them willing to do this.  He has not been in the schools and therefore they have no teacher input or math work to review; and his battery of tests show that he’s a very intelligent kid.

The district also noted that there is no testing for advanced placement in science; and said that especially at the elementary level–there is just far less science instruction than other “skill based” subjects like reading and math.

I’m again reminded about why we homeschool.

Truly, the ability to integrate all of those skills is lost on public education.  They HAVE the resources to do it by way of science classes and the business classes I taught.  They’re just not prioritized.  My business classes were not mandatory.  These classes that integrate and solidify all of these other skills aren’t a priority.  A friend was on a retreat with an elementary school teacher who told the group that she was directed to cut out science if she needed more instructional time for math or language arts.

My BigGuy with his Lego Mars Rover--which he loved as much for the Legos as for it being the Rover.  Age 4
My BigGuy with his Lego Mars Rover–which he loved as much for the Legos as for it being the Rover. Age 4

Where would this leave my little scientist?

The assistant superintendent asked me if I had anything other than anecdotal evidence to support that BigGuy might be ready for a freshman level science class.  I offered up his teacher evaluation from the Cell Biology lab that he took this summer and the Pre-Algebra classes he took last year.  He asked (not in an antagonistic or snarky way–but true concern) if I felt that my 10 year old would handle being in a class of 14 year olds without a problem.  I told him that 1) BigGuy’s mild Asperger’s made him rather unaware of age differences; and 2) as a homeschooler, he has been engaged with kids of all ages.  With that, he told me that I might approach the high school science department to discuss it.

I’m not sure I will.  I’m not sure what we’re going to do.  I have to discuss all of it with BigGuy.  I also have to consider what it would mean for him to take a course at the local schools.  As in: we would have to take him there every. day.  Which blows for pretty much all else.

Lots to consider.  But I am thankful to live in a school district where the conversations have progressed this far; and they have been very open about the disconnects between the system and how our son has been educated in a way that was neither condescending nor chastising.

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