Friday, May 27, 2011


Here's a picture of Riley, today, on his way to piano lessons. My KY relatives would be so proud that he wore his UK shirt to school today!

Kevin and I had our big meeting today. In attendance, school psychologist, counselor, principal, vice principal, PE teacher, and Kevin and I. We agreed that we would revisit Riley's 504 plan at the beginning of next school year, adding in some more accommodations. One thing I want included is teacher prompting. Teachers are just going to have to prompt Riley to turn in his homework, report out answers, etc. He is not doing that currently on his own. I have no idea why. There are a lot of things about this year that have been a mystery to me. I don't know why there is such a huge change in his school attitude. I can only assume that the transition from one class, one teacher to six classes, six (very different) teachers, has been quite a challenge for him.

Since he is not really struggling academically-we can't really consider math as a struggle, because if that teacher TAUGHT, he could be LEARNING, and would be doing better-plus it's an honors class, but since he is not struggling academically, we have decided to try the accommodations and no honors classes, in the fall. We will meet in September to add new accommodations, then we will see how he does. If needed, the psych will do testing to see if he qualifies for any services. IF he qualifies, it would be under "Autism," and maybe he could get an IEP and services for speech/language. He won't qualify for any sort of special day class-that is NOT what he needs. He can access the regular curriculum just fine, but needs some accommodations in terms of prompting and redirections, and clarification. He is doing just fine in his other academic classes presently. Science is a C right now, but again, it's honors science and that teacher's expectations are completely insane. We are not pleased with either honors teacher.

The big struggle is PE. I know, it sounds silly, but to Riley, it's like a death sentence. Specifically the mile run is the struggle. He can't beat his time, and when he can't, it's a FAIL. Now before the meeting, I checked the websites of the other junior high schools in our district. It just so happens that Riley's school has the toughest (ridiculous) grading criteria. Basically class participation is 35%, miscellaneous (homework, tests, etc) 35%, and Fitness Testing 30%. In actuality, it appears that Fitness Testing is different from the mile runs, so that and the fitness testing really counts as 50% of his grade. I am sorry, but that is barbaric! Grading students on how fast they can run is not fair, and goes against what they are trying to achieve, which is a sense of fitness. I don't think there is a kid at the school who does not dread the mile run, and could give a flying fig if they are fit or not. They are simply trying to survive PE. The school's system is setting the students up to fail.

Here's a look at some of the criteria of the other junior highs: One school's criteria is 50% participation (A HA!), 10% mile runs (A HA!), 5% fitness testing, 5% attitude, 5% sportsmanship, 5% for dressing, 15% tests, and 5% for a drug program they complete. I am nodding my head in agreement. Sign us up for THAT school! That is how it should be. Another school uses a point system (Ok idea), and another counts it as 30%, but states that as long as you are participating, then the student would most likely not get a grade below a C-I can agree with that. The last school counts the runs as 25% of the grade. So when Kevin and I pointed out the VAST differences in grading criteria within the district, the principal stated that each school can do as they want, per Ed. Code. Yes, I guess that's true, but what she wasn't understanding is that the criteria is so negative to students in comparison with the other schools. Riley would be getting a B at the first school I mentioned! Kevin practically ripped the principal a new one, but in the end, there's nothing she can (or would) do to change the criteria. That's when I asked about opting him out of PE. They were not for that, but if I can teach him myself (I have a credential), and we sign him up for outside sports of some kind, it could be doable. Otherwise, I can get his doctor to exempt him. In the end, we decided to make the bulk of Riley's 504 accommodations, in PE. We will discuss that in September.

So the PE teacher came in, and we had some pretty tough questions for him. He had emailed me early on in the school year saying that the mile runs fall under something called a Fitnessgram. I looked that up, and basically it looks like a program which is like standardized testing for PE. So I asked how that grade can be used against Riley as MY students standardized test scores are not figured into their grade. He gave me some song and dance that his "fitness tests," consist of the exercises they do for warm-ups-so they are being graded on doing daily exercises as well! Poor Riley. In the end, the teacher started sighting Riley's absences, to which I pointed out that this has been the worst year with absences for Riley. He's NEVER missed this much school. There was all this discussion of the make-up work and make-up mile runs, so I asked how many days he has missed. Here's where I almost laughed out loud. Are you ready? He has missed 8 days. 6 of them this trimester. It just so happens that those 6 days were mile run days-3 of them-and he needs to do make-up work for the other 3 (again he WILL NOT ask what he's missing, hence the prompting-at least for now, not forever.) 8 days. I have students in my class-at least two of them-who have missed over 30 days this year! So Riley will make up one mile run, in class, next week, and two of them after school at times when the teacher is available. He will also complete 3 make-up assignments, and that should get him a C. We are fine with the C. Really, will it matter when he's a CEO that he couldn't run the mile under 11 minutes. I am sorry, but give me a fucking break.

I am optimistic that things will be better for Riley next year, no honors classes, a hand-picked (the understanding/compassionate one) PE teacher, and priority for his elective (he really really wants Beginning Band). He'll have new accommodations in his 504, and we'll get to meet with his teachers much earlier in the year. Also, Riley knows what to expect now, and there will be less transition-and hopefully high school will work out fine. If there are struggles, he will be tested, and then we'll figure out a solution. Hopefully by time school starts, we will have been to the regional center, and will have a better idea of where he is on the spectrum, and what else he might need. Stanford is still a ways off-probably November.

I still plan to move forward with a meeting with, at least, the head of special ed. She was supposed to attend the meeting today as well, but was a no show. I will email her again next week, asking for a little time. I am passionate about teachers getting more info/training about high functioning Autism. Obviously, there are huge gaps.

All in all, it was a successful meeting, and the administrators/office staff are working really hard for my child. I am very pleased with them, Riley's History, English and Recorder teachers. We have issues with the honors teachers and the PE teacher-but THAT should be fixed next school year. Fingers crossed.


  1. Sounds like you maybe made some progress with ideas for next year. If he does have to take PE, tell him to run the first mile run VERY SLOWLY and every single run after that will be very easy to beat his time... Just a hint. I think the running is wrong as well. And had asthmatic kids going into full blown asthma attacks trying to kill themselves to beat their time... Not in 8th grade. Figured it out...

  2. The PE thing really throws me. What about a personal best for kids and that earns at least a B. Are they enjoying the games and learning about team work and fair play. Are they putting effort in? It sounds like this teacher was "left behind" in academics and wants to treat PE like a core subject in school--it's not. It's about being healthy and participating. Both of things I am sure Riley is and does.