In an effort to get my summer underway, I quickly unpacked the kids bags from the last day of school. What a loot! Art projects, science essays, weekend writes, water-color art, colored pencils and supplies, moldy muffins in the bottom? (gross!)….And last but not least, report cards!
I must admit that reading my oldest child, Taylor’s report card is a dream. He not only meets but he exceeds expectations most often. His teacher clearly adores him and he is liked by all of this classmates. It’s SUPER fun to read it with him and experience his pride as we carefully decipher what each “E” (exceeds expectations) means for each subject.
And then we have Ollie’s IEP. And you know what? It’s equally wonderful. We have spent COUNTLESS HOURS working and toiling over every detail to this kids education. It fits him like a glove and he has not only met, but also exceeded many of our expectations! Who knew that he was going to start WALKING this year?! Or uttering words at random times?! He has at least 100 more signs than he started with at the beginning of this year.
It was an AWESOME year.
And as I quickly shuffled through the remaining pages that were soon to end up in the recycling, I opened up one last sealed envelope. Hmmm…. Ollie’s first grade report card. That’s strange…
Now I must insert here that this is by law. This is NOT by the choice of any of his incredible teachers, staff, or principal. This is by law that all teachers have to report how each child did in their class…
I have to admit. I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited about how the year had finished up. And I held onto that excitement. I’m Ollie’s mom. I know his accomplishments were great to say the very least. But to open up the 1st grade report card, the class that he spends half of his time in, was dis-heartening… sad… infuriating… frustrating… deflating.
The report card read “N’s” almost all the way down. NOT CURRENTLY MEETING. There were occasional “M’s” to accurately show that he was meeting standards when it came to effort. He has great effort in every subject! Hooray! But my heart still sank.
I know that my kiddo is not going to meet standards with his peers. It’s why we have him on an IEP. He’s missing a part of his brain. Of COURSE he will not meet standards with his peers. And I certainly don’t want to shy away from the truth. I like to take life very head on…give it to me and give it to me straight! But I must admit…I felt that the IEP was really straight. We cover things all the way down to “Ollie will drink out of a straw without assistance.” We cover AAAAAALLLLLL bases to ensure that we get this right the first time.
So why on God’s green earth must a parent read about all of her childs short-comings when graded against his peers?
The only answer I have is that we shouldn’t. And I want to help change that. With a phone call in to one of the best principals in the world, we have some ideas on how to change this. I’m sure it’ll take a long time and it won’t be simple. But I think I’d like to make that change. What if a hundred more parents didn’t have to experience the grief that this creates? Every year!? It could be awesome.
Receiving a disheartening report card for a special needs child is not the end of the world. But it could be better. And I want better.
As for my own personal report card: Ollie is the cheeriest, brightest, sweetest little guy. Everyone who encounters him is better for it. I’d give him an “E” 🙂