My role at Forman School, a private school for bright college bound learning disabled students centers on bringing two different playing fields together. A percentage of our students are funded by their local school districts. I have to deal with the districts, attorneys, advocates and parents. One issue that surfaced with regard to public schools deals with classification. I was involved in a PPT with a district who stated that the students testing, as good as it was, could not be used to classify the student, and thus allow him to be eligible for services. The student’s testing had been done at the All Kinds of Minds clinic. The language used in the All Kinds of Minds testing really is phenomenal, yet we were told that standardized testing needed to be done in order that classification could be determined. Districts are looking for numbers, especially the difference between the Verbal and Performance on the WISC IV. At Forman we speak a language that follows the AKOM language, but I have to speak the Public School language when running PPT meetings. How do we change the mind set?
4 thoughts on “AKOM Private v Public”
As I see your dilemma, there is a lack of understanding, and therefore an education challenge on both sides. AKOM and PPT culture are two very different animals with truly different objectives. The PPT is under tremendous measuring, reporting, and accountability pressures complicated by the fact they are outsourcing the education delivery to you. Thus, their immediate goals and objectives are very different from yours. The PPT team must have those numbers. Only after you are able to satisfy that cooperatively will you be able to start the process of teaching them the common ground and differences of the two approaches, and how they can work well together. It would not be accurate to assume they know anything about AKOM. You will have to patiently teach about AKOM. I see the PPT people devoted to starting point and ending point data. I see AKOM as delivering a process to help the child’s skills develop. These roles dovetail and are wonderfully compatible. Your job will be hardest because you must really learn to speak both the language of the PPT and the language of AKOM with all the translations needed. Also, you will have to always push forward the truest mission – that of honoring and developing the potential of each child individually.
Thanks for the insight. It truly is a dilemma when speaking the two languages. Even more complicated is the whole issue of labels. Schools systems look for labels in order to meet the law governing disabilities. We at Forman say learning differences more than disabilities. However, I spoke to the senior class and told them that they must use learning disability or OHI when seeking services at the college level. The AKOM’s language really speaks of a complete pedagogical change.
The real challenge in changing the mind set is to engage the PPT team beyond the traditional quanitative testing with its concurrent labels, especially considering the issues Jamie Baker wrote about. I, too, faced very similar blockades when I began the process of finding for our son a place that would offer him the opportunity to reach his true potential while preserving his sense of self. I will never forget what an educator said to me early on at a IEP meeting when I began to introduce the concepts of AKOM, after we had completed the mandatory standard traditional testing; she said “you are not going to like what I have to say Mrs ….. but the public school only has to provide an adequate education, not the best one”. Here in lies the hugest challenge of all!!
I believe the mind set will change, it is just going to take time and be coupled with huge doses of patience. In my heart I beleive this will be on the order of decades, not a few years. Nothing in our history suggests that real long term change happens otherwise, and the spectrum of understanding learning differences will be no different. Slowly, but surely it will happen. Please continue to be an ambassador of the message that needs to get out there. In the meantime, I am grateful there is a school like Forman where our son is happy and finding success!!!!!!!!!
You are absolutely right that it will take a long time to change the mind set public school personnel have right now. Off the record there have been a couple of Special Education Directors who have said to me that they think the AKOM language is the way to go. However, they are governed by regulations related to the law. Here lies a massive task. How do we change the existing legal mentality? As I said the existing laws determine how colleges and public schools service the “LD” “ADHD/ADD” individual. Hopefully, one day we will be able to focus on neurodevelopmental research, and what that means in understanding learning disorders, rather than on standardized test scores, and educational policy.