Journal Entry 2

Interview of Two Parents

Interview with Parent 1-AH: The parent of three special needs students

The first parent I interviewed was AH. AH is the mother of two fifth grade boys and an eighth grade boy. All three of the boys are identified as having a specific learning disability. They have been in the district for three years and have taken many formal assessments.

The first question I asked her was if she thought formal assessments are important. She told me that yes, they are extremely important. They tell us where students are at and where gaps may be present. They give teachers and idea of what the students are good at and what they struggle with.

Next, I asked if formal assessments reflect student learning accurately. She said that they don't necessarily reflect students accurately. All students learn in different ways and have different ways of demonstrating this knowledge. She said, for example, she is not a very good test taker. She wouldn't necessarily perform well on a standardized test but that doesn't mean she doesn't know the information.

To improve formal assessments such as the WKCE, she recommended them not being so intense and spread out over so many days. Her boys get burned out taking them and have high anxiety about them. She thinks they take a real toll on students which also affect how well they focus and complete them.

She thinks there is a better method to assess student achievement, but she isn't sure what that is. These days, she believes many students have struggles with reading and attention. Some students are good note takers and study them well while other students are more hands on. She isn't sure how to create an assessment that is able to reach all learning styles.

Interview with Parent 2-MP: The parent of two students in the general education classroom

The next parent I interviewed was MP. MP is the parent of two students at my school, one in fourth grade and one in second grade. Her younger daughter received speech therapy for two years but was then released. Both students now participate full time in the general education classroom.

When asked if formal assessments are important she said yes. She thinks that they are a great benchmark to find out where students are at and allow teachers to determine what they need to do to get students where they need to be.

She does believe that formal assessments reflect some student's learning accurately. She believes for the students that are good test takers or good at paper and pencil tasks, it is a great way of showing their knowledge. She went on to say that not all students are good with paper and pencil so it would not accurately reflect the other students knowledge.

MP thought formal assessments could be improved by making them more conducive to the students. She thinks that they can be very overwhelming for some students. Some students get so worked up over them, they don't perform to the best of their abilities.

As far as a different method of assessing students, she isn't sure what that would be. She does think there would be a way to make tests easier for students to complete and do well on, but she is not sure what that method is.

Comparing and Contrasting the Two Interviews

After completing the two interviews, I noticed a lot of similarities between the responses. Both parents think that formal assessments are a good way of recognizing where students are at. They recognize the importance of them and why they are administered. They both also think that they don't accurately reflect the knowledge of all learners. Although they are easy for some students, they aren't accurately portraying all learners. They also agree that formal assessments often cause anxiety in students, which can affect the outcome for many. Finally, they agree that there should be a better way to assess students, although they are not sure what that method may be.

The greatest difference I found between the two parents was not in how they answered the questions. Both parents seemed to really understand that formal assessments are not the best way to assess all students for their understanding. What I noticed was the tone of the conversation. The first parent, AH, seemed to strongly believe that there should be a different way of assessing students. She has seen her boys results of these formal assessments at numerous IEP meetings. The scores are quite low. The second parent, MP, knew there was an issue, but didn't seem that concerned with changing it or finding an alternative method. The reason is quite evident, her children do not struggle with assessments and earn good scores. If this weren't true, I think she would be a lot more concerned about it all.

Overall, I was quite surprised by the similarities I found between the two parents. They both seem to agree that formal assessments are a good way to guide teachers instruction. However, they do not accurately reflect the knowledge of all learners.