It’s no secret that I have always homeschooled our girls. Alex is technically in the 3rd grade this year and that means… mandatory state testing. I have always known this. Last month I looked up the testing website to see what I needed to do and it said to wait for their letter. I’ve been waiting and today I got a phone call from them. They were concerned because her age indicates that she should be in the 4th grade. Yes, that it true.
We waived kindergarten the first year and started a year late. Though we were not officially homeschooling kindergarten that year, we were doing just that at home. The original intention was to give Alex (and Emma) an extra year to catch up developmentally. At that point in time we did not have a diagnosis and still held hope that they would progress and catch up to an age appropriate developmental level. Waiving kindergarten for a year also gave us an extra year to be held accountable by state testing, but here we are and now I have to deal with it. My frustration is that today is the first time they have contacted me and I now know that if we want Alex to be exempt from testing then they need a letter from the doctor postmarked by March 8th. That’s Friday. I have 3 1/2 days to get a letter from the doctor and get it in the mail to them.
I really don’t see any way that Alex could handle a full day of testing. The obvious reasons are her physical comfort and ability, as well as her cognitive skills. She doesn’t speak. Her computer allows her to communicate, but she is not on a 3rd grade level by any means. We have worked very hard to know the alphabet, colors, shapes, etc., but she cannot read. I do believe that a testing exemption is appropriate and feel certain that her doctors will agree.
Dr. LePichon knows Alex and her condition better than even her pediatrician does. I have e mailed him and feel sure that he will respond and be willing to write up a letter with his professional opinion. Medical and therapy records are not necessary for this request, though I think that approach would be completely explanatory.
I’m about to be ugly for a moment, so bear with me and then forgive me. The lady I was speaking to from the testing office was less than well spoken. I’ve allowed that to taint my opinion of the entire process. Her mistake was really quite simple, but I’m going to point it out anyway. She said, “I seen it on her paper work.” Really? You ‘seen’ it? No, you did not. You ‘saw’ it. You ‘read’ it. You ‘took note’ of it. You did NOT ‘seen’ it.
See? I told you I was going to be ugly. I am not a grammar or language expert and I will not claim to be. It is just a pet peeve of mine.
I’m not having a fit here, but I am finding that I’m self justifying this entire situation. That’s silly. I’ve been through this with myself in the past. Making the decision to home school was huge and not completely supported by all those in our life. Despite that, Drew & I put much thought and prayer into making such a decision and it was the right one. I have no doubt. The things I am about to say are affirmations, not excuses.
Alex is exactly where she is supposed to be. If I may take it a step further… I know it has been the right decision for our family because of how I feel when I think of Emma. Not for a single second to I regret having her home with me. Her life was full and happy and blessed. My life was all of those things because hers was. The same is true for Alex. I have this beautiful child sitting next to me right now and I am so grateful. Their lives are about so much more than how high they can score on a test. Alex’s life is not about preparing for the same life as most children. We ARE in the right situation.
I am thankful to live in Arkansas. Our state is quite lenient when it comes to home schooling. Every summer I turn in a letter of intent to our school district. We do our own thing and all they require is that we show up for yearly mandatory testing beginning in the 3rd grade. That’s not harsh. In fact, it is perfect for our individual situation. As for other states that hold much different standard for home schooling families, it is for good reason. It is my opinion that not all children should be home schooled. Not all parents should be home schooling their children. Any and all rules are intended for the protection of the children and accountability of the parents. That’s a good thing. I am grateful for the right to chose what is best for my child and will absolutely abide by the requirements of the system that allows that choice.