Louise Marr sent this from her book:
“Every spring, the Philadelphia public school students take the standardized tests, or PSSAs. (Starting in 2013, the district has switched to a different test called the Keystone Exams.) These tests are a huge part of how schools are evaluated and rated. It is from these scores that Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) is determined. There is a big push to prepare the eleventh graders for the tests from the beginning of the year to test day, usually after the first of the year. This particular year at Vaux, the students took the test over a course of several days. They were divided into several different classrooms for three to four hours in the morning, with two teacher proctors per room. All eleventh graders take the test, even the SPED students. Schools across the country take statewide tests very seriously, because of the implications that they present. In the five high schools where I have taught, there has been a common atmosphere at test time: the school is quiet and rules must be strictly enforced. In the classroom that I proctored at Vaux, it was sometimes a challenge to maintain the serious atmosphere.
There were five students in the room I proctored. Four were SPED students. One was MMR, and read at first grade level. He was given the same test. After a few minutes, he put his head down, because he did not understand the reading. Teachers are not allowed to help, only to say, “Do the best you can.” He didn’t even bother to ask.
Takierrah and Courtney were working on their tests, until Courtney looked up and caught Takierrah looking at her.
“Stop looking at me!”
“You’re ugly, I will f*** you up.” “I can’t stand your black ass.” “You’re black too!”
“No, I’m light-skinned.”
“You’re still ugly.”
“I’m cuter than you.”
“Get outta my face.”
“I’m not in your face, because if I was, I would f*** you up.”
They did manage to settle down without a physical confrontation,
but this scene made a huge impression on me. These tests would be used to evaluate the progress of our school. They were obviously way above the comprehension level of the Special Education students, yet the students were not given any accommodations at all. When I asked an administrator about this, she just shrugged, “That’s just the way it is.”
From the book, “Passed On: Public School Children in Failing American Schools”
by Louise Marr. Chapter 3: No Longer a Special Education