Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Success of 2014!

Almost the last day of 2014, trying to spend a little time reflecting. 

As they would say on the RHOBH, I'm "in a good space right now" and want to focus on the positive.

Thus, my #1 most successful moment of the school year:

It has to do with a student very near and dear to my heart (as if all my stories couldn't say that)...

This student was in my class for three years and at his IEP meeting last May, it was up to his IEP team to determine if he was to take the Alternate Assessment (AASWD) or the Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) as a third grade student. Based on the scores from his IQ testing, he could've taken the AASWD, however, as we often know, IQ tests are not always so accurate for those with autism spectrum disorders.

The team used the flow chart from the state and determined that he should take the OAA. I was pleased with this because I believed he could. He was not two grade levels below, he was not working on an alternate curriculum... His parents agreed.

Towards the end of the meeting, we returned to the testing page and had another conversation about the tests. It was up to me to again convince the team that he could do the OAA with the allowable accommodations. I was sure he could do it. We signed off and that was that. 

Fast forward to his third grade year. I am no longer his case manager nor do I work with him at school. I do work with him privately and worked on simulating the testing conditions to complete practice tests so this was not a new experience for him. We practiced one passage and the questions 2 or 3 times each week from August through October...

...The test was coming up in two days and his teacher had an unforeseen absence the entire week of the test. Who is going to administer his OAA? I was feeling panicked. 

The day before, his teacher and I spoke on the phone and determined that I would administer his assessment. Uh oh. How will this go? What if it's too hard? Why did we do this? 

The day of the test, as I was driving into school, I had another moment of panic. What if this goes all wrong? What if this is just torture for him for three hours? What if I was wrong?

I set up our testing room with snacks I knew he would like, a visual timer, some reinforcers (M&Ms that we often use at home), pencils, erasers, water, and a white board so that I could make him a visual schedule (1. Read story. 2. Answer questions. 3. Take a break.)  I had already taught him to read the questions for each story before reading the passage. I knew he was ready. He could do this! "We got this," I thought to myself.

As the busses started rolling in that morning, I got nervous once again. Why is he taking this test? What will it tell us about him? What if I was wrong?

Too late now.

I got his testing booklet and picked him up after the morning announcements. We read a social story about doing your best and continuing to work until the test was done. We read the visual schedule to show that he would do one passage and the questions then take a break. Then he was ready.

As he opened the booklet and saw the story, he said "read the questions to me first," just like we had practiced. I read the questions and answer choices aloud to him and then he proceeded to read the passage.

Throughout the next hour and a half, he was rewarded with M&Ms, break time, theraputty, and a short walk to the water fountain. He read every passage out loud without assistance. He answered every question in the booklet with prompts only to "color the circle darker." 

As he colored in the last circle in the booklet, I could feel my tears... 

We closed the book, I shouted, "You did it! You really did it." I gave him a small round of applause as he said "no please" and pushed my hands down. 

I took him back to his resource room and walked his test booklet back to his home room. I was crying. He did it. He really did it.

And it was better than my Super Bowl. He did it.

And I didn't know what score he would earn. The written expression questions were tough. Answering questions with whole sentences was tough. 

His score didn't matter. His score does NOT matter.

I could have never seen his score and it would've still been one of the proudest moments of my 12 year career.

He did it.

He proved he could do it.

No "meltdowns," no "behaviors."

He did it.

I could not have been more proud.

He did it.

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