Screen Testing pre-school kids...
I only have a minute, so I apologize for making this so short. I will probably leave out important details, so bear with me.
My oldest Ds who just turned 4yo will be entering pre-k in the fall. This is our first contact with the public school system in our state. As soon as contact was made, it has been on on-slaught of soliciations for special services, both private and public. It is all "sound the alarms and run down the hall screaming" your kid needs special ed.
Now, this is a normal kid and I'm not just saying that. It feels like they are poking and tearing him apart, just to find some way for the school to qualify for federal funding. When I have more time I will come back and give you all the examples of what made us feel this way. For example, they pretty much came out and said that they were going to fail him on Gross Motor Skills, because it is harmless and would have the effect of bringing down the overall score to qualify him for funding on expressive speech. The speech screened on the low end of the normal range, BTW. What's wrong with that? We call can't be speech givers.
I was very upset after our testing yesterday and when I went back to work spoke with several people. It seems like almost every person with school aged children have their kids in some kind of special needs class. What is up with that? Everyone has a similar story of how they feel preyed upon, both by public school programs going after federal grants and the private services who charge an arm and a leg and act like used car salesmen.
So, is this how school is going to be? What is going on? How can it be possible that all of these normal kids have all these "issues"? What happened to giving children time to grow at their own pace? Are parents being falsely alarmed just so others can make a buck of our kids? What happened to learning to hold a pencil in K instead of at 3? I feel like people in the education industy just see my child has a dollar sign.
This doesn't feel right to me.
We don't have public pre-k in my area.
I live in Texas. I'm not sure if all of Texas has no public pre-k, but I know my district and one neighboring district do not have public pre-k. To qualify for pre-k in these districts the child has to have special needs or not speak much English.
I think what you are describing with your public pre-k is pretty sad. I think the school system has found a way to get more money and more funding and will go to any length to get that funding. I don't think I would be happy at all with that approach. They are using poor innocent kids to get more money for the district. Sad!
I do not see anything like that in my district. If the parent thinks a child has special needs they can have the child screened to see if they qualify for the public pre-k. Even for entering Kindergarten, there are no screening tests here. Once a child is in Kindergarten, if the teacher (or parent) see a problem with a child, then the school works with the parents to get proper testing. Very few of the kids in my school need any type of special services.
I can answer some of your questions on why...
because in many school districts, K is now 1st grade and if you go in with issues, your child will be quickly left behind. The general direction in education is to push them early, identify issues, etc. Part of this is caused by the No Child Left Behind Act. They cannot just pass along children who don't meet specific criteria any more. In my state, a student must pass a standardized test in 3rd grade to be promoted. That means that they start working earlier on teaching them what they need to know to pass and they start identifiying children who need that extra help. Your school district is under a lot of pressure to meet federal standards.
I'm on the fence on this issue because while I think it does push children too early, at least we are identifying children who could use a little extra help or a lot of extra help. For example, in the recent past, dyslexia wasn't identified prior to 3rd grade or so and by that point, it was almost impossible for children to be helped and ever be expected to compete with their peers. This lead to higher drop out rates, low self esteem, etc. and these children never reached their full potential because all of them have at least an average IQ and many of them above average. Recent research suggests if you catch it early and get help early then they don't fall behind and they can do normal work. My dd is an example of this. She was id'd in K as having a reading issue on a state mandated reading awareness test. We were told she'd very quickly be behind in 1st grade (like by the 2nd week she would not be able to keep up) and it was likely she'd fail. We sought out a private school and after 4 years of therapy, she is now doing very well (all A's & 1 B) in regular school with no special accomodations.
While it does sound like your school district is hyper about the whole thing, I think it does more harm to under identify. You are still the parent and you can still refuse the testing and/or therapy suggested. Be aware that school is not what it used to be when we were children. It is hard and there is a lot pressure and you want your child to have every advantage. I'd also check if I were you what your school district expects students to know how to do prior to starting K.
I find this to be very strange (m)
My first thought is that, as with Texas, where I live there is no universal pre-Kindergarten -- but I do know that, at least in my district, there is a strong preference to allocate the limited number of public pre-K slots on a needs basis, specifically, to favor the enrollmenbt of kids who will benefit from EI, so that when they do go to kindergarten and first grade the school will have already started addressing potential issues. Where I live, the main issue is teaching English, but I'm sure speech therapy and behavioral issues are also addressed.
If it's not a universal program and you got one of the limited number of slots, maybe that's why it seems everyone needs services, because that's the population that the public pre-K is really intended to serve?
If it's universal and this is just their way of making sure that they get as much federal funding as they can to keep the program afloat, then I would be really perturbed. Your child shouldn't have to have an inaccurate label attached to him for any reason. It's sad that this is what they have to do get money for education, but I wouldn't play along.
I feel that the school was being proactive and trying to get your ds help for his speech. Often I hear the oppostie of your story - Parents want help and the school district is ighting them on it. If you do not think he needs help, if you are happy with the results of the evaluation, then tell the school and enroll him in private preK. I truly believe that they are trying to get your ds help that they believe he needs.
Thanks to NCLB, it is now in the schools best interest to identifiy children early and be agressive with treatment. I dont see anything wring with that. The earlier a problem is addressed the easier (and better the outcome) it is to correct.