Monday, August 22, 2005


I have a No Child Left Behind dilemma for you. I'd like some feedback on this one.

There's a - hypothetical - student, we'll call him Rocky, in the fourth grade. He was supposed to be in fourth grade last year, but after entering public school for the first time in his life, it was discovered that he couldn't actually read and he was sent back to third grade. He is now in fourth grade once again. Prior to last year he was homeschooled.

I have seen a great range of kids come out of homeschool, some amazingly far ahead of their peers and some tragically behind, but none so far behind as Rocky. This poor child is eleven years old and cannot read. Today we worked one on one - while there are 19 other kids for me to teach - on a kindergarten level 5 book and he was unable to read it. I could read it to him and he could memorize the simple, repetitive language with help from the picture cues, but he couldn't actually read individual words. (Monkey number one went over the river, Monkey number two went over the river, Monkey number three went over, etc.) After he read it to me once and himself five more times, I pointed to the word river and he said, "monkey." I pointed to the word roared and he said, "when."
He's tested into Special Ed and receives one half hour of services during my 2.5 hour class. How am I supposed to help this - sweet - hardworking child who has already been clearly left behind to achieve what NCLB dictates while ensuring that my other 19 students also reach their grade level specific goals? This kid already has me wrapped around his finger; he's so helpless and victimized that I really want to help him, but I have no idea what to do. There is no money for a special tutor, his parent is clueless and helpless herself, there is no time allowed in my day for one on one with him without sacrificing my other students, my before school tutoring time is already spoken for by tutoring for The Test (without pay, but that's another post).
All I have come up with is to possibly work with a first grade or kindergarten teacher to let him come be a "helper" during her reading group so that he can be exposed to the lessons he needs to hear. It would certainly benefit him more that my discussions of character analysis and plot development.
It's just really sad. He's a nice friendly kid who is going to wind up a drop out at 16 because of decisions that someone else made for him and a school district that doesn't have the money to help him. And it makes me feel snarky. Downright snarky.
Okay, I said feedback...your turn. Go!

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