The Latest on Tate and the EOGs

Ever since took and failed every section of the EOGs she's been getting assistance from another teacher, a couple of hours a day. He basically just helps out with math. Today, Tate comes home with a note from this teacher basically saying that she needs to pay attention and follow instructions with her math remediation. And that was it, very short and blunt. I had to sign it to acknowledge I saw it. That's when I started to get angry. This guy has a classroom down the hall, but what does he really know about my daughter? Does he think she is simply thick and doesn't get it? Does he understand she has ADHD? I have no idea. But after Tate told me he said she would have to repeat 3rd grade and be in HIS class if she failed the EOG retest, that was it, I had had enough. You don't mess with a mama bear's cubs, you will get mauled.

So I wrote this and emailed it to him and the interim principal:

Hi Mr. *********,

Thanks so much for helping Tate with her remediation for the EOGs. I received your note today and I understand that Tate has some problems with concentration and following instructions. I'm not sure if you are aware or not, but Tate has ADHD. Her issues with paying attention and following instructions have been something we have struggled with for a few years now. There are multiple things the psychologist who diagnosed her recommended to help with her learning. A major thing to take into consideration is that Tate is an auditory learner, so it helps to have things repeated so she stays on task. You may or may not want to do this or feel like it is distracting for the other students, I'm just putting it out there.

Before the EOGs, Tate's father and I had a meeting with Mrs. Cooper, Mrs. Burley and Mrs. Stephenson regarding our concerns about Tate and the EOGs. We discovered right before that special testing situations can be arranged for kids with ADHD. While Tate has an IEP for speech and it does include the information about the ADHD, Tate doesn't have a 504 plan in place, so nothing could be done. When we asked about what needed to be done to get a 504 plan in place for next year, both Mrs. Burley and Mrs. Stephenson stated that Tate would most likely not qualify for one since her ADHD doesn't seem to interfere with her schoolwork (Tate is a B/C) student. While I disagree with them, you are more than welcome to throw your two cents in to Mrs. Cooper, Mrs. Burley and Mrs. Stephenson if it will help our case for getting Tate a 504 plan next year.

Last but not least, I understand the importance of the EOGs. And believe me, Tate understands the importance of these tests. Heaven knows it's been drilled into her head enough. You aren't the only person who has told her that if she doesn't pass she will have to repeat 3rd grade. She is very aware of the consequences of failing and she is terrified. I think it is quite cruel to place that kind of pressure on a child, especially after the school sends home a note prior to the EOGs stating to make sure that the kids get good rest, good meals and have less stress at home during the testing week. And let's face it, we both know that while the EOGs are important, they do not dictate if a child is promoted or not. Other factors are taken into consideration, at least that's what I've been told by Mrs. Cooper, Mrs. Burley and Mrs. Stephenson.

Thank you for your time,
Courtney Zepeda-Hawkes

And so the fight goes on...

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Teacher/Principal Meeting

After the email I sent to the principal of Tate's school, she replied that she could meet with me and Dominic this afternoon. So, of course, Dom rearranged his schedule and we went.

The meeting was attended by the school principal, Tate's teacher and the school counselor, who oversees testing. I will admit that I was terribly nervous. I hate these kinds of meetings. When it's something I feel passionately about, I get worked up. Then there's always the possibility I will say something inappropriate because I have a big mouth and I cuss like a sailor when I am mad. Last year, it got so bad that I sent Dom to all the meetings towards the end of the year.

SO, what I was most afraid of was true, the IEP set in place for Tate is about her speech impediment and while it mentions the ADHD and has all the paperwork in there, it is not sufficient when it comes to allowances during testing. You need a 504 plan in place for that. You can learn more about a 504 plan here: Even if Dom and I pitched the biggest fits we could, that red tape alone would prevent us from getting the results we desire.

Then, Tate's teacher brought up that Tate is a B/C student and has improved so much during the school year. And the principal assured us that the EOGs are not the end all, be all when determining if a child moves on to the next grade or not. This is very frustrating to me since they have placed so much emphasis on this. Tate has felt lots of pressure, at school and sadly, at home. I can admit that. I've been scared to death. When I talked to her teacher not that long ago, things seemed pretty bleak in her opinion. Today, another tale was being told.

Basically, we got dismissed as the hysterical, stressed out parents. I really hate the feeling of being blown off. When we asked what we needed to do to get a 504 plan in place for Tate, they explained it would be something we would need to do at the beginning of the school year next year. Then they continued to say that Tate most likely doesn't qualify since her ADHD doesn't affect her work. WHAT!?!? Huh!?!? That confounded me. Her teacher has told me about Tate's struggles to focus while reading and finishing tasks on time. But her ADHD doesn't interfere. That doesn't make any sense. Her classwork grades aren't consistent either, it's not uncommon for her week's work to have A's, B's, C's, D's AND F's. It's the combination of high grades and low grades that average out to the B/C level she is at.

It was right around that time that I could hold my tongue no longer. I couldn't help but ask them why we spent almost $1000 on having Tate tested to learn she has a learning disability if accommodations were not going to be made to help her with that learning disability? I'm sure you can imagine the awkward silence that followed. These 3 women just sat and looked at each other. That's when they said that many ADHD kids do not have 504 plans in place. That seems like a great disservice to the ADHD kids.

The principal then tried to give us a different perspective and asked us if we would want Tate out of her familiar classroom setting to have her testing alone with a teacher she doesn't know so well? My answer was, "Don't you think it would be helpful if she could read the passages aloud?" They then informed me that even when you are testing alone, you cannot read out loud.

In the end, the principal basically told us to stop stressing, not discuss it with Tate and to have a fun, early celebratory weekend this weekend. That's so easy for them to say, when yesterday I had to deal with Tate crying because she is so scared. Before we left, Dom asked them so, if Tate takes the first test and fails, then takes the retest and fails...what happens? She explained that we all get together and discuss it. He asked who makes the final decision and the principal said that they make it as a team. Then they all started talking about how Tate has done so well...blah, blah, blah. Basically, she WILL be going to 4th grade. So, that's good. But all of this unnecessary stress has me so exhausted and I know Tate is tired too.

We are having issues getting her Daytrana refilled today too. The doctor wrote a prescription for 60 (10 mg) patches for the next month. Well, the insurance company won't cover it without pre-authorization from the doctor. I guess the fact that he wrote the prescription isn't enough. Not to mention, I had to go to the doctor's office to pick up the paper with the prescription on it. Then I had to take it to the pharmacy, only to get a call about the insurance company's shenanigans. We are going to get 30 patches, since that is what the insurance company will cover, but if she goes through more than that this month, we will not be allowed to get more.

UGH! I don't think I can take much more today.

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Here We Go Again

Well, third grade has almost wrapped up for Tate. There is just under a month left of school. That said, there is still one MAJOR hurdle left for us to overcome. Next week, the "end of grade" tests (which I will refer to as EOGs) begin. These tests are standardized tests that were brought about by the "No Child Left Behind" program. But in reality, it seems like quite a few kids are left behind.

Let me take a moment to post a letter I emailed to the principal of Tate's school. I wanted to set up a meeting with her and Tate's teacher, but they wanted to set it up next week, when the EOGs are happening!

Hi Mrs. Cooper,

I am afraid that meeting up next week simply will not do. This matter is
pressing and requires immediate attention.

Having a child with ADHD has certainly been a struggle. At the beginning
of the school year, my husband met with Mrs. Stephenson, the assistant
principal and the speech therapist to lay out exactly what was going on
with Tate. I was unable to attend because I was in the hospital. He brought
the information from the psychologist who tested her and the recommendations
that doctor has made to help facilitate Tate's learning experience. It has
been common knowledge from the beginning that Tate has ADHD.

What I do not understand is why it was never brought to my attention by anyone
at SVES that special testing arrangements could be made for Tate (and other kids
with ADHD) when she takes the EOGs? I found out on Friday from a client I was
working with who explained that her little brother has ADHD and always has to have
special arrangements made for standardized testing. And just about a month ago,
I had a meeting with Mrs. Stephenson about her concerns with Tate and the EOGs.
She explained to me the process of testing and the one opportunity for retesting
and then the process of the meeting where a teacher from each grade level is
present, as well as you, and we state our case about why Tate should be promoted.
She also gave me a list of things we can do to help with her studying skills.
I have downloaded all of the practice EOG exercises, as well as made copies of
quite a few reading exercises that Mrs. Stephenson gave me last week. I am doing
everything I can on my end.

I am quite certain that I was NOT made aware of these special arrangements at the
meeting with Mrs. Stephenson because after that meeting the main thing I researched
was opting out of the test, but while the State does allow that to happen, Union
County does not. Had I known there were other options, I would have pursued them.
I do everything I can to give my daughter a fighting chance. She is extremely
bright, but just does not have the skills to learn how to harness that intelligence.
Tate does have an IEP, but it primarily focuses on her lisp and what actions need to
be taken to improve her speech. It does mention her ADHD, but it is not the central
issue. I think once this is reviewed again at the end of the year, we need to do
something to get the focus more on the ADHD. Sure, I am concerned about her speech
too, but the ADHD seems to be the biggest stumbling block when it comes to her

I feel like her rights as a "special needs" child have been compromised and she has
been set up for failure. I also know that if she repeats 3rd grade she will be
bored by going over information she has already gone over and I think the
repercussions of that could be far more detrimental than we think.

I'm am sure you will be hearing from me quite a bit in these last few weeks.

Thanks for your time,

Courtney Zepeda-Hawkes

(The principal emailed back and we have a meeting with her and the teacher tomorrow.)

**An IEP is an "Individualized Education Program" **

You can read more about it here:

So far this year, Tate has made B's and C's on her report cards. Her main problems have been her concentration and ability to complete tasks on time. At one point her math skills were weak, but now it looks like her reading skills are weak. But if she fails one of the two sections of the EOGs, she will be held back. As I stated in the letter, there is one opportunity to retest. Beyond that, there is a meeting with the educators to discuss the situation and ultimately, the decision is made by the principal. Did I mention this was a NEW, interim principal?? Her predecessor left during spring break a couple of weeks ago. This just complicates issues more because this principal doesn't know Tate. What doesn't work in our favor is that Tate is one of the youngest kids in her class, it's easy for the powers that be to say she'll be fine if she's held back because she will still be with kids her age. That's a tough one to argue.

I'm so tired of arguing. I'm so tired of having to fight tooth and nail. I wish I could find a teacher who was experienced with ADHD kids. I wish I could home school, but Tate needs the social interaction and gauging from how personally she takes things when we do homework together, I know it would never work. Not to mention, I have no idea what it will take to help her absorb and digest information.

On a side note, I am growing more and more frustrated with Tate's teacher. The other day she told Tate (within earshot of other kids) that Tate will be in 3rd grade again if she doesn't pass the EOGs. I know Tate wanted to tell the class about her trip to England over Spring Break, but her teacher wouldn't let her. (Last year it was a requirement in her class.) Then yesterday, they were discussing space shuttles, since Endeavor is due to launch on Monday. Tate tried to explain that she has seen a shuttle launch, but the teacher dismissed her and told her not to talk when she was. Apparently, the opportunity to contribute to the conversation never came up.

It's these sorts of things that make me wonder if the teacher is actually following any of the suggestions made by the psychologist? I'm thinking probably not. It seems like she treats Tate like an underachieving student. But I know, this is just speculative opinion on my part, I don't know what goes on in the classroom.

I have friends who are educators and I hope I don't offend them. All I know is what I am going through.

The Daytrana patches we started her on seem iffy, at best. Her teacher hasn't noticed any differences. One 10 mg patch apparently doesn't do anything. Two patches keeps her up at night. We haven't even tried 3 patches! We have started telling her to take them off at lunch, instead of when she comes home. But so far, we are in limbo. We are going to try for another month, then we are going to meet up with her doctor again.

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