This can only give high-decile schools an even bigger reason to cherry-pick and widen the education gap. FFS.
One in Five on Radio NZ covered many of the issues. Good contributions from Catherine, Giovanni Tiso and many parents
Further to my point, I'm curious to know how many disabled students are at high decile schools like Auckland Grammar, if there are any at all.
When it comes to claiming funded support during exams, etc, there are heaps apparently.
I read an article several years ago which said there were about 100 students in a special unit in Auckland Grammar. They weren't allowed anywhere near assessments (as they couldn't risk the league tables). I guess they were in-zone students they couldn't persuade to go elsewhere. Not sure about the current situation though.
And National Standards in primary are now compulsory for all students including those on ORS, and schools are not allowed to report anything about those with special needs in their league tables. So schools with higher numbers of children with special needs, who are unlikely to achieve on these one-size-doesn't-fit-all standards, have league tables which look worse than schools which can persuade special needs kids to go elsewhere. Just one of the several incentives in the system for schools to exclude kids who might require more resources.
I regret that I did not make the deadline for submissions to this.
Our son was diagnosed with ASD as a result of observations by our DP at a (Decile 8) primary school in West Auckland not long after he had started school. I can now compare our experience within the NZ education system to that in Australia and the States (albeit at the different ages and stages of our son, and given the specificity of each school). We payed for the private consultation to get this diagnosis (about $400 IIRC). It was always clear that he would not qualify for ORRS.
In NZ, I felt the support existed (if you were a sufficiently articulate and proactive parent, which is an obvious disadvantage to those kids who don’t have such parents). Our school was very accepting of diversity, almost to the point of blowing it off. They had a dedicated Special Education coordinator, and were very willing to work with parents to create goals and strategies to meet the kids’ needs. It was however somewhat informal (for those kids who did not meet the criteria for ORRS and/or who did not have an IEP), and I felt like I drove a lot of the plan. If we had stayed, I was going to suggest a few things: mini school-driven IEPs for all special needs kids, as well as a special needs parent strategy and support group.
In Australia, we filled in a form to say our son has ASD, and that was the last we ever heard of it. They supposedly had what was called a Learning Support team within the school, but our son never had anything to do with them. We never knew whether this was because he was doing fine, or whether there were many more urgent cases, or whether he just hadn’t registered on their radar.
In the US, our son has an IEP. He has access to a speech therapist, a psychologist, and a resource teacher for organisation and study skills. It is a very formal process, backed by legal obligations of the school district. When the team meets, the school principal attends, and her emphasis is on the skills needed for his future schooling and beyond. If I ever run into any of our son’s team at school, they are keen to tell me about his achievements, and check if we have any concerns. It feels very supportive (even if the motivation for the support is a legal obligation).
In the US, all demographic data is included in the test score reporting (race, special education, poverty (by way of free-lunch statistics)).
I hope this is of interest!
Thanks Nat. I am currently trying to find out if any country is doing things well for our children. Sounds like your US experience was good, although I have heard that it varies by school districts. Also that in areas with lots of charter schools the underfunded public school system is left with the special needs and other kids who require more resources.
Did you have to have a DSM diagnosis? Do other children with special needs at the school get the same level of intervention?
By the way when my son was at primary school in Wellington before the days of ORS he had a 6 monthly assessment meeting at which the principal, psychologist, SLTs and classroom teachers (and me the parent) attended. The SLTs were on site and saw him everyday in the classroom and the Ed Psych regularly visited. Together they decided the level of resourcing and intervention he needed for the next 6 months. So NZ could do it, and could again.
Yes, it absolutely does vary by school district. I hoped my comment about school specificity made it clear that I was aware of that. We are privileged by all demographic measures. (Although we were too in Australia, so that’s no guarantee).
I just finished reading The Prize by Dale Russakoff: a fascinating account of the Newark school district, in which charter schools are gradually replacing public schools, with the very effect that you describe. This is despite the awareness and attempted mitigation of bias of school choice being towards engaged parents. I thought of your “Wicked Problem” posts when I was reading the book. In Newark, part of the failure was the policy makers’ and philanthropists’ failure to realise how wicked the problem really was.
ETA: we have carried the diagnosis we got in NZ with us. I don't think that even mentions the DSM, but I could check that.