Preparing for High School: Update

high schoolI had heard a lot of things about special ed in our high school, the different tracks, what they can take, where they can go with the different diplomas… I wanted to meet with people who could tell me definitively. And I got some answers.

In essence, we will have to choose a track by this spring, which will determine whether or not The Boy ever goes to a four-year college. That’s a tough decision for any parent of a fourteen year old, I think. And I think if they made general ed parents do this, there might be a bit of “education reform” down here.

There is an “occupational” track, designed for kids who are cognitively impaired, and have IQs in the 50s-70s. They are taught in special ed classrooms (segregated from the rest of the gen ed population), and the coursework focuses on work experience, heavily. If we choose this path, he cannot use his diploma to ever go to a four-year college. He may also not be able to take band, depending on when the core classes are scheduled.

Then there is the “future ready” track which is the general ed curriculum. They have a special ed teacher available to be in some of the 9th and 10th grade core classrooms. There is an elective study hall that special ed kids can take to get homework help. And that’s it.

We could start him in the “future ready” and move him to the “occupational,” but we couldn’t do the opposite. It almost feels like they set them up for failure in the gen ed track with little support, and then when they fail, funnel all of the special ed kids into the “occupational” track.

Everyday, special ed kids are denied taking electives in schools across this country, simply because of their disability. But because most parents don’t care about electives, and don’t fight for their kid’s right to equal access to the curriculum, nothing is done. But this is a smaller issue.

This setup, this all-or-nothing choice we have to make… this is something else entirely. I have a friend whose son is more academically age-appropriate than mine, and he is in the “future ready” track at this high school. His teachers don’t know how to modify his assignments, and he has to stay after everyday to get help from his teachers, on top of the “study hall” he gives up an elective for, so that he can have a special ed teacher help him do his homework. Is this really all they can do? Is this really all there is?

Yep, this southern state sure has opened my eyes to the reasons people homeschool.

UPDATE: I just shared an email exchange with The Boy’s former program teacher who said that the part about never, ever being able to go to a four-year college was absolutely untrue. Good news. But makes me wonder what other information the “transition coordinator” screwed up…

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9 thoughts on “Preparing for High School: Update

  1. I’m a high school Special Ed Transition Coordinator in Wisconsin. Make sure you verify that the “Diploma” (I assume it is comparable to our Certificate of Completion offered to students here who stay through age 21 and have a significantly modified curriculum) offered through your occupational track will give entry to a technical college, if that’s a potential interest. Here that is not the case. It isn’t a diploma so does not meet entrance requirements even at our local public technical school. For further training, our students with that Certificate of Completion can only access job training through Goodwill or comparable agencies, usually through Voc Rehab.

    • It is an actual diploma, and I was told that students can go to a program at one of the schools locally to get an associates, but it wasn’t really clear if he could also go elsewhere to do that… Good point!!

  2. I am an autistic band kid (flute) myself. I am shocked to hear that an autistic student has been denied participation in band. I love band.

    • He hasn’t been denied yet, but a friend of mine really had to fight to get her son in it. It’s against the law to deny any student equal access, and they are walking a very fine line, even if they say that his other classes would conflict, which I think is what they may attempt with us. My experience as a former band director who is knowledgeable about special Ed law should help our case.

  3. This tracking scenario of giving basically two choices is absolutely illegal. The I in IEP stands for individualized. Since goals are supposed to drive services, it’s important to develop appropriate goals and then individualize a school program so the goals can be met. Kids are not supposed to be forced into a mold. This really gets me steamed up!

  4. Pingback: Updates and Upcoming | Simple. I Just Do.

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