Labeling in American Education

Sometimes in American education children don’t learn as expected. The teachers of those children are encouraged to refer these lagging children for “assessment”. This causes the child’s parents to receive a letter advising them that it is in the child’s best interest to be tested because of their low classroom test scores. Sometimes the scores aren’t failing, but the child’s behavior is. That’s another reason to have the letter sent home requesting parental permission to test the child.

It is this educator’s opinion, and others differ, I’m sure, that too much of this testing is done on children. I’ve see children I worked with as a remedial Reading teacher be tested and placed in programs where they don’t belong. I have protested, but my arguments fell on deaf ears because the assessments done by the psychologist indicated otherwise.

Did anyone stop to think that the psychologist in his or her fancy clothes might have intimidated the child? That may be why the child didn’t answer any questions, not because the child didn’t know the answers?

Once in a very long while, a child who has been mislabeled is retested and taken out of the special classroom or special pull-out situation the label places him/her in. It is hard to get unlabeled, once you get labeled.

I have advice for all parents who receive a letter stating your child needs to be assessed or tested, whichever word they use, to determine if s/he has any developmental reasons for not doing well in the classroom. When these parents receive that letter, they should ask for, if it’s not given, the handbook explaining Parental Rights regarding the tests. Then decide if and when you want your child “assessed” by a team of specialists.

I’ve also seen the reverse of this. One child I taught was a select mute. She would not speak to anyone at school. The year I had her, I spent a lot of time and attention on her and she began to talk and she eventually tested out of her special ed program. Her mother was not happy because some of these labels they put on children come with a government check.



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