Sunday, August 31, 2014

Testing for LD Students

We all have them. There are many different types, and the IEPs and 504s come with specific do's and don'ts regarding their needs. This one needs to sit by the teacher. So do these four others--all in the same class. That one needs to have a secluded space for testing. Another one needs to be in a separate room so the test can be read to him. But one thing in common--nearly all of them need special arrangements and extra time for testing.

The other issues can be dealt with: determine what "sitting by the teacher" means in a class like ours, where the teacher is all over the place. In my room, I try to keep them in the first row if possible, and I try to be sure and stand by them when something is happening that they need to pay close attention to (all the time). But testing arrangements have been my downfall.

I know that my LD students aren't at a disadvantage in my class. A class like mine is actually a benefit for most. But how do you give a song quiz to a person whose dyslexia makes it hard for him to read and harder for him to write? How do you allow a secluded spot for testing in a classroom with 30 other students? How can a student take an exam in a room apart from the classroom when the teacher-tutor available doesn't speak Spanish? These are not just my problems; these problems are universal.

This year, I've decided to take a different turn. I am asking my LD students to meet with me outside of class. At that time, I ask the student what test he feels most comfortable taking. I then make an arrangement with him: he will take the original test with everyone else, but if he does poorly, he knows that he can take a second test after school with me in the classroom. Whatever he needs will be provided. If he needs a multiple choice test, I will make him one. If he needs a secluded space, no one will be allowed in the room besides the two of us. If he needs a reader, who better than me?

You might wonder why I don't put these tests into play from the beginning? Two reasons: tests are unannounced, and as a result, I sometimes haven't had time to make extras myself. This is my fault, but I try to test after every six words, and sometimes I'm getting ready for new vocabulary and realize that I can't introduce before I test. Second reason relates to the first: I give unannounced quizzes, and I do that (like all of you do that) so that I'll know if there's vocabulary I have to reteach. My LD students often have test anxiety. No matter what kind of test I give, if it's unannounced, it's hard for them to do well. So taking the first test with the understanding that there's another test out there for them and this test is "to give them something to do while everyone else is taking the test" is actually their heads up. They now know a test is coming, they know what vocabulary will be on the test, and they can study for a day or two before coming in and taking their own test.

I'm just starting this, and I'm not sure how successful it will be. But I'm the mother of an LD student, and I know that this would have been beneficial for him.  Everyone I've talked to likes the idea and appreciates the person-to-person touch. I'm wondering what you've found to be helpful with your learning disabled students? Please tell me in the comments. Thanks!

1 comment:

  1. Dyslexia comes in varying degrees so the accommodations are student specific. Sometimes for dyslexic students minor adjustments such as font style, spacing of text, placement of fill-in-the-blank spaces are very beneficial. You could do a oral comprehension quiz for all students in addition to the written test. For students that need a quiet area you could send them to the school library. I too am the mother of an LD child and I know the thought of him taking a test two times because he couldn't do it like everybody else the first time around would contribute to anxiety/low self esteem.


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