I've spent the morning working on my students' progress reports. For students in special ed they get a numerical assessment and a comment for each of their personal goals and objectives each quarter along with the traditional report card. Although its time consuming I like that it is personalized specifically for them, and that I can write a comment. I'm not just giving a student a '3' (making some progress), I'm able to write that 85% of the time she can identify the number 3, which is up from 25% of the time last quarter. Since the goal is to identify the numbers 1-5 she still isn't close to getting a '4'- significant progress toward achieving the goal- but she is making progress.
Still, it's hard to sit here, going through pages and pages of data, wishing it showed more progress. I've been so proud of what they've all accomplished- felt everything was going so well. But to see the cold numbers- 85% of the time is lower than I thought- I thought we'd mastered the number 3. I thought one child never needed prompts to complete work but the data shows that no, I've been giving her a lot of prompts. My perceived progress isn't actually real progress. We still have a lot of work to do.
With students with special needs you can't just teach the material, you have to teach, reteach, sing, dance, repeat the material. It has to become so engrained in them as learners that they'll never forget it, and that no matter how much difficulty they have retrieving information in general, they'll always be able to access what you need them to know. 85% isn't where we want to be.
It's hard to write their progress reports and not reflect the progress I think we've made. Progress is happening everyday, it's just still progress and not achievement yet. I want to walk the line between cheering for what's been accomplished so that the parents can be rightfully proud of their children while still giving them a realistic assessment of where their child is.
I've been following your blog for some time now. From when I was only in my Masters program working as an assistant in the special education classroom to now, being the actual teacher in charge in the special education classroom. I would love to actually email you to get tsome feedback, maybe some ideas, but what I'm really struggling with is a good and concrete way of measuring the data of their goals...how to measure the prompts, etc...and wondered if you happened to have a blank form that you would be willing to share, or ideas to share. As a new sped teacher, I feel like I'm swimming among sharks and barely hanging on. It's so very challenging.while I have good days, somehow those really difficult days seem to take over my brain most of the time and I can't seem to feel good about it on a regular basis... This is the hardest job I've ever had. Are you willing to talk to a newbie?
Emily, I'd love to share/chat/commiserate. Comment with your email address- I won't publish the comment but then I can email you. I completely agree- it is a crazy hard job!
Progress reports are my least favorite part of teaching special ed. While I spend hours and hours pouring over the data, i feel like I focus in on what hasn't happened instead of what has. I also think it's so hard to objectively measure written expression goals. And even with other goals that are seemingly easier to measure, saying Sally answers 5th grade comprehension questions with 85% accuracy doesn't give much information about all the reading strategies she's learned.
I also wish I didn't have to write 16 progress reports at the same time, 4 times a year. I wish I could spread them out.
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