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What could explain why a high school in a rich city has a far higher rate of students with learning-disabled designations than the national average?

The Wall Street Journal reports that one out of every three students there has gotten a designation as having a learning disability, which, of course, some of their parents got so their kids can get lots of the sort of extra attention only a caring community like Newton could provide and not because it means they get extra time to take the SAT or ACT tests, which could prove an edge in getting into one of those top-tier colleges their well-off parents are really hoping they get accepted to. Because that would just be unseemly.

Note: As noted in the comments below, there are reasons why Newton North would have higher rates of kids with IEPs or 504 designations than, say, Newton South, and that the Wall Street Journal findings don't meant there aren't kids at the school who legitimately need extra attention, but one in three?

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Have you already forgotten about affluenza?

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does North still have a high number hearing impaired student programs?

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2 comments:

1 - North gets more of the kids with special needs than Newton South for a variety of reasons, including having the vocational program.

2 - the people who abuse the system are not the majority and those of us in the disabilities community are very angry at how their actions hurt our kids who really do have LDs or other special needs.

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For those who are obsessed with photoshopping themselves into various athletic team photos for which they have no true affiliation?

Oh, sorry, that would be the parents..

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Has there ever been another example of a prospective customer being in legal trouble for defrauding the business? Doesn't that usually go the other way?

Just like the LA elites, these parents are trash, but the reason *isn't* "they lied to a college."

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Yes, it absolutely can go the other way. Not usually when you're dealing with off the shelf products, but a few potential of the top of my head:

-Loan applicant lying to lender
-Tenant lying to a contractor about owning the property
-Lying to insurer about reimbursement

If the business relation requires the customer to convey accurate information about themselves or their needs, then absolutely there's room for fraud.

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That is a higher percentage of phony learning disabilities than the Boston Public Schools

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Is this based on personal experience or do you have some stats/actual details to point to?

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Details that Newton has a higher percentage of kids with phony learning disabilities than Boston?
No I have no details,just a hunch.

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At best, un intentionally misleading.

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that you are making a statement about parents using IEPs to bypass the lottery system and i disagree. BPS does their own extensive testing and does not use a medical diagnosis as the exclusive grounds for providing services or handing out IEPs either way. My ASD son went through their testing and his diagnosis from BMC was simply looked at as guidance and not an automatic eligibility.

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I've observed BPS's testing for initial IEPs for incoming three-year-olds, and have seen instances in which the person testing did not meet the qualification level of the test author and was not administering it remotely correctly. I've had them administer testing in which a student came out as extremely gifted, when having come out in the mildly delayed range when tested by every other qualified clinician who has seen the child. I've been told by employees there that they're encouraged to find students ineligible for 3yo placements, because it costs money. For kids who are past compulsory age, it brings in money, so different ballgame. I've also been in meetings where all of the outside folks are recommending a type of setting that BPS doesn't have (this often comes up with kids of normal intelligence who need a small, quiet classroom and/or classroom using a specific approach while the BPS boilerplate policy is that most kids with normal intelligence and no major disruptive behavior go into regular ed or integrated), and the BPS team is stating it's off the table because they don't have it, without any clinical justification for why they won't be providing it. This is very much illegal, but not so drastically that DOE will do anything, and BPS knows most families won't sue them for something that would require a private lawyer.

BPS doesn't provide services based on outside testing or on diagnoses, which they're not required by law to do. Many local districts DO provide services based on outside testing or on diagnosis, which is what they choose to do and which is permitted. This then leads to clinicians telling families that of course a child with a particular diagnosis will get a 3yo classroom placement, and then when they don't, the family has nothing in place as a backup, or worse, the clinician just decides the family didn't actually go through the process, and reports them for educational neglect (which it's not, provided the parent is doing functional things with them at home, but there's also a misconception among providers that it's the law that 3yos with a disability have to be in school).

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with all your facts and such.

It's almost like you work in the area.

also, "small, quiet classroom" lol yeah BPS will do their utmost to push that family into private school.

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There has yet to be a system invented that couldn't be gamed.

Over many years of teaching I have encountered many students who legitimately needed time-and-a-half on tests and other forms of accommodation. It's a very reasonable thing.

On the other hand, when I taught at Boston University many years ago I would routinely hear students ask each other "Are you taking the test XT?" (extra time) as if this was something you did just because it gave you an advantage. There was a doctor out on Long Island who was rumored to certify any student as learning disabled who paid the price to buy the certification. This is really insulting to those who actually need the accommodation. It's also pretty infuriating when helicopter parents do this intentionally to try to gain an advantage in getting their son or daughter into an elite college.

I would like to believe that every school has experts who can distinguish the legitimate and illegitimate requests for accommodation, but I'm not so sure this is the case.

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I would like to believe that every school has experts who can distinguish the legitimate and illegitimate requests for accommodation, but I'm not so sure this is the case.

The problem is, they can't. If you have a note from your doctor with a diagnosis. There's little the school can do except to accommodate you. If they refuse, the kids parents will quickly hire a lawyer and sue the school district. (even if its 100% fake.. you just can't not provide accommodation if the paperwork is there to prove it, even if falsified)

School Administrators are in a no win situation... kids, rather the parents, taking advantage of something, and the district can do nothing in retaliation.

This is the problem with the system, it allows for fraud like this. But the minute you start finger pointing and scrutinizing this stuff, you'll have every lawyer between here in Atlanta coming to get you.

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And quit. Remember when they were told they had to let gay parents adopt from their orphanages? They took their ball and went home instead.

Of course, they should have just let them adopt, but hey, you can't make somebody be a school teacher or administrator either.

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If you have a note from your doctor with a diagnosis, there's little the school can do except to accommodate you

A professor friend of mine has made all of his tests untimed. And with that one move, he took away "extra time" as an advantage that students with affluent and savvy parents could purchase.

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Here's the end of the WSJ article:
"A couple of years ago, administrators and teachers at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School in Irvine, Calif., noticed that students they had taught for years were coming in with doctors’ notes saying they had learning issues and needed extra time on college-entrance exams. The school pushed back. “Parents want to do what’s in the best interest of their child and want to provide them with opportunities and support,” said Jeffrey Davis, head of the school, known as TVT. “They talk to their friends and their neighbors and realize their kids are getting extra support and that they might be able to get it, too.” The diagnoses sometimes didn’t mesh with what the school and teachers knew about the students. Believing that what was going on wasn’t ethical, TVT last fall brought in an outside specialist to review each case. “They are going back and looking at this thing and realizing that some of this stuff is baloney,” said Lee Weissman, a Jewish-studies teacher at the school. Mr. Weissman said private schools face an inherent challenge in pushing back against parents demanding special allowances. “What we are selling is college admissions; that’s what parents are buying,” he said. “When they are getting accommodations, and that’s going to be helping to provide the product you’re selling, it’s hard.”"

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For 3-22 education, IDEA only requires the LEA to consider results of outside testing. In BPS, this often amounts to "yep, we considered it, kthanksbye." The LEA can do their own testing and deny services based on that. A family still might win a lawsuit if they can demonstrate that the LEA didn't administer relevant tests or didn't administer them correctly.

I'm less well-versed in college-level accommodations, which fall under ADA/504. I know many of them do use their own testing and/or require that students submit a full neuropsych rather than just a note saying they should get an accommodation. This would seem that it would be in line with how the ADA permits colleges to determine what they accept as documentation of a disability and determine how they can accommodate without lowering academic standards.

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how many of these kids have the same doctor

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An interesting control/test on the "one in three" number would be to check staffing. Are one in three (at a minimum) of their teachers/aides qualified in and assigned to special needs?

Do all special needs students have IEPs?

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Do all special needs students have IEPs?

In a world with adequately funded schools and sane teacher to student ratios, every single student would have an educational plan that was individually tailored to that student's strengths, weaknesses, and learning style.

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Yes, but general educational policy/philosophy, class size, etc... are not what we're talking about. I may have been too brief in what I wrote to convey my point.

At least some special needs students have IEPs. I don't know if all do. IF there are students who are special needs status for these exams but there aren't indications in other parts of their education (such as an IEP or something else), that is at the very least a curious state of affairs.

If one-third of the student body is special needs, does staffing reflect that?

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I get the whole extra time portion of the SAT, but being able to complete the SAT within a certain time frame and scoring well is impressive and should be counted for something.

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The SAT was designed to prove black kids were inherently dumber than white kids and as such should be regarded as suspect.

http://www.nea.org/home/73288.htm

So doing well in a short amount of time is an accomplishment but perhaps not as relevant as it is presented as. If you were trying out for a basketball team, running a 5 minute mile might be impressive but not super relevant - it's like that.

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And one of the reasons IQ tests have time limits. It does show you something.

I should say, I never felt the SAT was a type of test that didn't give you enough time. I never remember time being a factor when I took it except for possibly going back and checking your answers.

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You did well enough on the SAT to become a policeman.

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My SAT and GRE scores got me bachelors and and an MEd from Boston College and Holy Cross so I’m proud enough.

But yea I guess any dummy can be a cop there is only a 6th grade reading comp test for that. Pays me about 150k a year through (base) so I’m not complaining.

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Dude, I'm one of the first to call out the problems with the institution of policing. But I see no need to take a jab at someone who has consistently demonstrated that he also sees the problems and works hard to be a decent and respectful person in uniform and out.

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Pete does seem to be a decent person. I'm sure Pete did great on the SAT, and super fast too. It seems incongruous for a policeman to be bragging about his SAT scores, but that jab at Pete was unnecessary. My bad.

That said, I think it's worth questioning the idea that a person who does not have a disability (e.g. of the sort that would require extra time to take a test) should be more proud of their accomplishments than a person whose disability was accommodated.

I can probably read faster than a dyslexic kid, but it doesn't make me special.

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But back to the issue.

During WW2, those working on the Manhattan Project were in fact under pressure to do all sorts of complex problems and there were time restrictions. So pride aside, I think working under pressure and a time limit is a pretty impressive and important skill to have in many areas.

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We're talking about going to college here. I should imagine that the Manhattan Project would have its own, more specialized admissions criteria. In this day and age, almost everybody in a profession rather than a trade goes to college.

You know who would have qualified for extra time on the SAT? Alexander Graham Bell, Michael Faraday, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin... all accomplished scientists who were learning disabled, mostly dyslexic. Back in the day it was easier for someone to just drop out of school like Bell, Darwin, Faraday, and Edison did, and still pursue a career in science.

In more recent years, people who want to be scientists really have to go to college. Luckily, diagnosis of learning disabilities like dyslexia can help get people accommodations they need to pass what would otherwise be a barrier to them. Diagnosis helped people like Nobel laureates Jacques Debochet, Carol Greider, and Baruj Benacerraf pursue their education despite dyslexia.

I'm sure that in a timed test you could beat any of them on the SAT. You could have probably dunked on Steven Hawking too.

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I guess I'm talking about probably the majority of the 600+ students at Newton North who qualify for extra time and do not have the mental capacities of Faraday, Edison or Darwin.

And although I can dunk on Hawking, I'm still probably not beating those guys on a 1990s SAT if we all went to the same school.

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Aside from being started in the 1920s by a racist guy (which wasn’t a particularly unique characteristic at that time), it doesn’t explicitly state that the SATs were created for that purpose or reference how they continue to be biased. It is something I hear often though.

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And what alternative to the SAT would be better at predicting academic success in college?

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Relative to the wealth of the buyer.

People respond to incentives.

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Even the narrative you linked to doesn't claim that a 'goal' of the SAT was to separate minorities from whites. It wasn't "designed to prove black kids were inherently dumber than white kids" any more than it was designed to prove that Asian kids are good at maths.

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being able to complete the SAT within a certain time frame and scoring well is impressive and should be counted for something

Speaking as one of those lucky folks who score well on standardized tests, I'm not convinced they measure anything particularly important or useful to society.

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I think it tests ability to read, follow instructions, and use deductive reasoning skills.

And I'm one of those folks who are like you in that I test well, or at least, I don't get flustered taking a timed test. I'm both proud of and resent being told I 'test well'. I'm not stupid, I process the questions well and select the correct answer more often than not. That takes skill.

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are types of people who are plentiful in wealthy first world nations and probably all did very well on the SAT. Now you can take the SAT away and these people would probably all find their way to become doctors, lawyers and engineers and I think that is what we are trying to do in this country.

In the end it isn't going to change anything, except we won't have scores that show divisions between ethnic groups (and some Asians according to the article parkwayne cited). We will still have everything else divided though but I bet only some people will notice (or care) about that.

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How fast one can effectively accomplish a task does in fact matter to society. I've been in situations in a couple of different industries where people were let go because they simply couldn't keep up with the pace of work of the people around them. It's not that the pace was back-breaking in any of these situations, and not that their work was necessarily stellar to begin with-- typically, it was not-- but there's a minimum pace allowable for things to run well, and if someone can't run at that pace, then they shouldn't be part of it.

The test of "useful to society" isn't "Can a person get the job done.... eventually?"

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My grade school and high school classes had no students with learning disabilities. THis must all be new in the last decade.

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Maybe your school was one of those that simply tried sweeping things under a rug and refused to actually pay for the help some kids need - at least until people started going into court.

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Serious question. (Or Roxbury Latin)

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But class of '95 here. We had "Chapter 1" in our elementary school which was for people with learning issues.

In High School there were 5 classrooms in the basement just for this purpose. Some for kids with mental disabilities and some for kids who just needed a little extra help.

And my graduating HS class had 110 students. (compared to Newton North which has over 400) and this was in the mountains of New Hampshire where school funding sucks ass.

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How do you know nobody had a learning disability? It's not public information.

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Read up on IDEA if you want to know how and when things changed.

I completed most of my schooling before IDEA.

I was in Girl Scouts with some girls who had disabilities (one with poorly controlled epilepsy, a couple with mild intellectual disability, one with cerebral palsy that didn't affect intelligence and did affect speech somewhat), and had a neighbor whose kids had a genetic syndrome with vision/hearing/behavior impairments. These kids all went to a different school from ours, where all the kids had disabilities. These were all verbal people who today would be in mainstream classrooms with IEPs. They walked places and went to camp without an aide or anything. The ones I've kept in touch with are working and living independently, and I'd imagine the others are too, based on my knowledge as a clinician who sees similar kids today.

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That's a bit sarcastic with your "thoughts and prayers". School is mandatory for everyone, but unfortunately a lot of kids struggle to just get out of bed in the morning to attend. It's a relatively small percentage who love it, have high aptitude, are motivated and energized by school and who flourish. The majority do their best just to get by. So don't begrudge those students who access whatever benefits may be available to help them achieve academic success, and I won't wish upon you a child with a learning disability.

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Because they might have made it seem like I was accusing all kids/parents with IEP/504 designations of cheating, when most are on those plans to get the help they legitimately need. I was referring to parents of the sort who, oh, might hire a "consultant" to advise them on how to get their kids into an Ivy or similar college, like the ones caught up in the recent admissions scandal.

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Although it would be interesting to see what percentage of IVy league admissions from Newton North had IEPs or untimed SATs

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Is there any way to know? The College Board stopped flagging "accommodated" test scores about 15 years ago.

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Might be because more affluent kids have better access to therapists, doctors, and others who can diagnose and treat learning disabilities than the kids in less affluent areas.

Maybe it isn't a problem that we give extra time to kids who need it, and we should focus more on extending the same special ed and social services to less privileged kids.

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Because the way kids are growing up these days drives them nuts.

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I graduated from NNHS twenty years ago and I can't imagine the pressure these kids are under now

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We can add that to the list of questions like why we see so many "service animals", too..

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Happy parents means happy school administrators, means happy teachers, means happy unions. Towns that can record high scores on these tests means happy real estate markets. The US has become so besotted with college placement that people have lost their sense of reality as well as morals. They created this insane system that rewards their kids with an over priced degree and crippling debt. That's why I don't have any sympathy for those who pursue it.

Like the Maddoff ponzi scheme, the people suffering under the results of it are the ones who enabled it as a result of their own greed. I don't see an end in sight either.

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