I’m sure you’re familiar with these man-made situations inherent in every bureaucracy. Situations where you’re forced to follow the formalities even though they defy logical sense. My initiation into the educational bureaucracy came when Peter was three. I had him tested to see if he qualified for a county-run special needs preschool. I submitted his paperwork in April and he wasn’t tested until after the start of the next school year. Getting a child tested and enrolled by the start of the school year wasn’t a priority. Sadly, bureaucracies are full of policies that define the irrationality of rationality.
Nearly five years later, I still encounter this kind of head scratching frustration. Take for instance the date of the annual IEP meeting. (Side note: IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan that’s a set of personalized goals and tasks for special needs students.) These meetings are done once annually and they must occur before the date of the last one. Dates that make me just as nervous as having my teeth cleaned in between the six-month period my insurance allows. Peter’s meeting happens to fall in March. This is two months before the end of the school year, which means that changes are enacted nearing the end of each grade. Wouldn’t it make sense to have meetings at the very end or beginning of the next year to coincide with the duration of each grade level?
During this year’s IEP meeting, Peter’s teachers were discussing his area of weakness in reading. I mentioned his most recent report card, which seemed to contradict his needs. To an untrained eye, it would seem that Peter’s excelling in on level, second grade reading with a grade of 96. Per the IEP, he reads at a first grade level. How could two criteria completed by the same teachers be so vastly different? Peter’s teachers told me to basically disregard the report card because it isn’t a true reflection of his progress. They explained to me that they aren’t able to record anything lower than on level. We shake our heads in unison, unable to make sense of this irrationality of rationality grading process.
So I’m left to wonder why teachers are forced to go through the motions and misrepresent a child’s progress. Just because there’s no option in the computerized grading system? Why should the minions of the educational system (in terms of pay, status, etc.) adhere to a process that falsifies a child’s abilities? Just to satisfy some higher ups who are disconnected from the classroom? Does this scoring system based on semantics affect federal funding or a school’s rating? What is it? What purpose does this serve? Certainly not our children.