EdEvaluation.com — Individual Educational Evaluations for San Francisco Bay Area Students

Supporting the Student at School

Falling Through the Cracks in the System

It would be great to always be able to understand just what each student needs to achieve educational success and to individualize the curriculum to meet those needs. But in practice, it’s just not feasible. There are always budgetary issues, there never is enough time, and it’s hard to accommodate everyone all of the time. So instructional design is all about compromise: what is the best solution within a school’s means and doable within a classroom time frame? How can the most number of students be supported the maximum number of times? And unfortunately, this means that kids who need the most help occasionally end up not getting any. If it’s your child, it can be very frustrating.

The Blame Game

Sometimes it’s obvious that there is something wrong: your child’s behavior and attitude changes seemingly over night. Sometimes it’s more gradual: a straight A student in elementary school brings home a few B’s and C’s in middle school, and by high school every one is surprised by “sudden” failures and behavior problems. What happened? How can this child be helped? How can this all be turned around? Whose fault is it?

It’s too easy to blame a child for the academic failures. But a blame game—whether it be a students, a teacher, a school, or parents—doesn’t solve the problem. Using the tools I’ve developed, I try to identify what is wrong and how much damage did it cause already. Poor language skills and poor attention controls can both cause a child to misunderstand difficult material at school, but the remedy to these problems are very different. This evaluation tries to tease out the cause of learning difficulties together with damage they caused and provides a road map for the student educational success.

Knowing What and How to Ask

Illustration: Teacher helping a student

It’s a parents’ job to be an educational advocate for their children. But to do this job well, you need to know what to ask for and whom to ask. Educational systems are inherently bureaucratic, they have to be—there are very limited resources and many urgent needs. The best strategy is to ask for very specific interventions (e.g.: extra time on tests, extra paper, preferred sitting location in the classroom, additional communication with the teachers, etc.) and for well-defined and clearly articulated reasons. It’s hard to say no to a reasonable request.

This evaluation will provide you with a list of reasonable requests that would help your child at school. It will also explain why you are asking for a particular set of very specific interventions for your child as opposed to some other accommodations that the school is willing to compromise on in your case. In school negotiations, you will need to explain why strategies that would help a child struggling with language might not be appropriate for a child with poor memory or bad handwriting. This task is difficult and emotionally charged.

You need to know and understand what’s best for your child, and demand it from the educational setting.