The Mental Exam
I remember when I moved to a new town and switched schools. I had to provide a birth certificate and a physical exam. This proved my parents were not kidnappers and that I was healthy with no communicable diseases. In this regard not much is different from my day and today.
It is about time that changes.
A physical exam does not indicate how well prepared a child is for the social emotional rigors of school. It doesn’t indicate whether or not a child reads at grade level or is anywhere near where they should be chronologically. A physical exam does not address the needs of an education system consumed with making AYP.
We know the academic achievement gap begins at home, that it arrives at school. By using exams designed to track the emotional health, the academic ability of young children, we could implement educational programs more specifically engineered for individual students. By assessing social/emotional health we can identify children as young as kindergarten and first grade who are likely to fall behind their peers. The technology and the knowledge of how to do this has existed since the early 1990s. In short, schools must address the emotional well-being of children if we are truly to leave No Child Behind. That we have not done this yet reminds me of the words of Ronald Edmonds, that we educate only the children we choose to educate. In other words we teach the easy ones and leave the rest behind. We are leaving too many behind.
It’s time we developed Individual Education Plans (IEP) that have relevance, applicability, and are achievable.