Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Third Grade Math: Far From Over

Ryan finally brought home a test result I could smile at this week.

In fact, I laughed out loud, embraced her with tears of mirth streaming down my face, and did a little happy dance of disbelief around the kitchen.

I'm not sure that helped her self esteem any.

She'd hit the jackpot, though, an incredible NONE CORRECT on the entire one-hour test. "Well, Mom, " she quietly said "Frau Danzinger did give me partial credit on the first question." (She was cowering behind the kitchen cabinets, not quite sure if my war whoops and insane laughter were a good sign or a bad one.) Yeah, because Ryan had managed to write a correct word into a completely incorrect sentence, and Frau Danzinger really has been doing her darndest to give Ryan whatever points she can. She gave up after that first one though.

What do you say to something like that?

I was curious, and so I called the teacher. "So, how about that weather, huh?" Frau Danzinger was not at all fooled. "Fine then, how about that test result?" She didn't have an answer. "It's okay. I'm not angry. In fact, I laughed." That loosened her up a bit. She guesses we still need to work with Ryan on some things. You think?! I am grateful that she didn't yell at Ryan - although she did write on the test that she thought Ryan could do better than this? Really? CAN she do better than this?

We discussed it once again. "Do you still honestly believe that this child has no learning "weakness"?" I asked her. (It's a nicer word than disability and, since they still don't believe there is anything wrong, also less insistent.)

What Frau Danzinger is trying to reassure me is that Ryan is a lovely child, that she just needs time to mature. She keeps reminding me of the IQ results. (They were good.) She is a pleasure in the classroom and never causes trouble or disruptions. Which is why she will never be looked at in this system. If she were a typical ADD child - male, loud, unruly and disruptive - they would have listened to me four years ago already.

And she gets what they consider average grades. 3s to 4s. Consistently. (C's in the American equivalent).

I just can't believe they don't look closer - especially with a parent hounding them for four years. Her math tests recently for example. The first half - dealing with fairly complicated multiplication and long division - rote math - is ENTIRELY CORRECT. The second half - dealing with application of the concept - ENTIRELY FALSE. For months now.

Ryan has ADD. I'm sure of it.

I'm also sure she will never get the help she needs here in Germany.

I finally had my mom ask Marie, our family's guidance fairy and a trained psychologist, what she thought about Ryan's symptoms. She sent me to a website, learningdisabilities.about.com/od/glossar1/g/abstractreason.htm that in turn led me to another website, www.ncgiadd.org., and piles of information.

She has also been reading my blogs, and....go ahead and read all those essays on Third Grade Math yourself again if you are interested. Ryan has almost every classical symptom of ADD, except the hyperactivity. It's a quieter, dreamy form more common to girls. And most often overlooked. I've been documenting it for a year without knowing it.

What bothers me is that the school here didn't even try, doesn't even really care.

I'm learning a lot. I'm giving up the guilt. (Don't Shoot The Dog: THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.) And I'm reading about the Individuals with Disabilities Acts, the U.S federal law requiring public schools to serve children with specific learning disabilites by developing an Individual Education Program (IEP), including individualized learning goals and A TEAM OF EDUCATORS, PSYCHOLOGISTS AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, for EACH student with a disability.

German websites don't even mention Ryan's form of ADD. The school has no health care professional, no psychologist, and noone trained to handle special needs education.

I think we all know what the Germans do when someone doesn't fit into their system.

1 comment:

  1. I knew when I wrote it that I'd be apologizing for that last line. Sorry....history just makes it too too easy. It's venting, it's anger and it's not totally fair. So...sorry. Still leaving it in though!

    What I am angry at though is not any individual teacher, not just the system....it is the fact that parental participation in their children's education seems to be unwanted and discouraged. This is completely at odds with the USA. And it seems to be a common story. If anyone hears otherwise, please let me know. Or has anything else to say. I'd like to be fair - even as I vent - and I find I am learning more and more as I speak out.

    Thanks for listening to the venting. I have some good, fun stories coming up too. Promise!