Back in October 2012 M was administered a standardized test called the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test. This test, a multiple choice test, is administered to 1st graders with little to no experience with standardized testing or with multiple-choice answer formats. The test administrators are staff from the school, not their usual teacher, and the test is administered in the library, not their classroom.
A letter was sent home to parents in September letting us know of the impending testing. We didn't think much of it, never said anything to M, and went about our merry way. A follow-up letter was sent in December with the final test score. 50th percentile. Ok, my daughter is perfectly average. It's fine to be perfectly average.
Naive 1st grade parent I was. I did not realize at the time that gifted/enrichment selection hinged solely on this score. This test aims to determine which 2nd-5th grade students are eligible for gifted
classes, or pull-out enrichment services in schools without designated
gifted classrooms. Without a score of over 80th percentile, my child would not receive a more enriching educational experience. Whoa now - say what?! My daughter is at an educational disadvantage because of a piece of paper? Because of a test that was administered to her with no preparation, in an unfamiliar testing environment, with a novel testing format?
I felt overwhelmed, misled, and uninformed. How did I let this happen? How could I have been so passive from the beginning? Am I to blame for detrimenting my daughter's learning potential? Bring on the mother bear.
I'm not usually a confrontational person.The idea of me tackling "the system" felt harrowing and insurmountable. But who else is there to stand up for my daughter's education? I think my daughter deserves more! I think my daughter is the best! After all, my daughter is perfect(ly average)!
I decided it was best to face this problem head-on, rather than sitting on the side to watch it play out. I began communicating with the principal, which led to emails with the Enrichment Coordinator and the Director of Curriculum for the school district. My request was simple: please retest M. Luckily, everyone was helpful, courteous, and happy to comply with this request. Not only did staff provide me with a packet of information about the test they also included two examples for us to review with M prior to the retest, to familiarize her with the format as well as to reenforce the importance of her concentrating, rather than picking an answer in a whimsy way, a defensive behavior any 1st grade may use when faced with such an uncomfortably foreign test.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. M was re-administered the test directly by the Enrichment Coordinator for the school. And the results are in: 92nd percentile! M now receives enrichment services. She is pulled from her classroom to be challenged with additional math and reading skills. And she loves it.
Not only that, but I feel fully vindicated. I feel justified, encouraged, and acknowledged. I feel supported by the school and district staff who heeded to my request in a professional, sincere, and timely way. I stood up for what I truly believed was best for my child. I've had my first glimpse of what it is to truly be a parent.