[I do not blame the psychologist for what happened here. In many ways, she is just a cog in the machine and just as much a victim of the system as my student. The fact is that the following story is all too common. The future of children across the country gets trapped into a never-ending system of useless paperwork and ridiculous requirements that make it nearly impossible to get them help. The sad reality is that the school psychologist in this story really was, more than likely, too busy to do her job. This is a terrible injustice.]
“I’m sorry. Perhaps if it were not so late in the year, we could do something for him,” the psychologist said.
“I came to you in October with this data.” I breathed in slowly, attempting to control the tempest of rage inside of me, then breathed out.
Dante had been my student since the beginning of the year. It was now May, and he couldn’t even write his name. Information slid from his brain like butter, and he was the only student in my classroom whose test scores actually declined mid-year. Something was wrong. Perhaps a learning disability? I couldn’t know.
But he was also bright. Interactive and energetic. Even funny. He just wasn’t learning. So I took my data regarding his academics to the school psychologist in October, implemented interventions recommended through Child Study, saw no improvement, and came back again and again. Seven months later, Dante had never been tested for an Individualized Education Plan, even though he met the requirements.
“Well, we didn’t have enough information to take any sort of action when you came to us in October,” the psychologist said.
“When we met in October, you told me to collect more data and come back mid-year.” My voice trembled with frustration. “When we met mid-year, you told me to collect more data again.”
Data, data, data. There’s always more data to collect. I had data from the state mandated MAP test, data from the Literacy First phonological awareness assessments, phonics assessments, running record reading assessments, Northwest Math assessments, developmental writing continuum assessments, as well as informal assessments written by hand. Any bit of data that you could possibly want? I had it, including behavioral data through the GOLD social-emotional development criteria. What more did they want?
“We just don’t have enough information at this time to make an informed decision.”
“You said that in January.”
“We’ll revisit Dante’s case next year and get him tested for an IEP then.”
“No,” I slammed my hand on the table. “I want him tested now.”
“Well, as I said, it’s simply too late in the year. Perhaps if it was earlier, we….”
“I did come earlier, and that was too soon. Now you’re saying it’s too late. When exactly do you plan on making it the right time?”
“I am certain that next year we could work something out.”
“I want him tested now.”
“I’m sorry, but we just can’t…”
“Like I said, it’s just not…”
“Why not!” I slammed my hand on the table again. To my shock, I realized I had been yelling “Why!”
“Because I’m the one who has to make the time for it, and I just won’t do it!”
I sat back in my chair and stared at the psychologist in shock. Speechless. So it came down to that. This one woman had the power to help my student. And she was too busy.
“Now, you’ve got to understand the kind of pressure I’m under,” her words barely registered in the back of my mind. “This is not the only school I see. I’ve got too many…” her voice became inaudible as disbelief overwhelmed my senses. I felt numb.
Dante was slipping from my fingers. I could see him falling through the cracks of a broken system. And there was nothing I could do.