Heather Wolpert-Gawron

The snail wins the race…with RSP

By on October 1, 2008

Just a brief post of victory to share:

At the beginning of Sept 2007, I gave a pre-assessment to my class in order to learn their levels and begin the process of differentiation.  I looked through the results and my gaze halted on one essay in particular.  Thus began my fight to get help for a nice young man who was placed in my mainstream 7th Grade Language Arts class.  This kid was sweet, respectful, earnest, and tried so hard with everything…until everything had its way with him.  He spent the year banging his head on his desk (literally) with his efforts until he just gave up and stopped trying.  I spent my year trying to get him tested for RSP, knowing that, for some kids anyways, the program, its class size, individual attention, and its pacing is exactly what they need to succeed.

I called for SSTs, I called for IEPs, I called for any other meeting you could think of.  All of his teachers felt that despite his effort, hard work, and earnestness, he was unable to do the work to keep up.  We cited his attention span.  We cited his focus.  We all witnessed his banging his fist on his head when asked to think.  We were all in this kid’s corner;  he was a guy you rooted for.  But for the 7th Grade Writing Test in March, he sat, pencil to the paper for the entire time, meticulously writing his response in cursive so that it was legible.  He only wrote three sentences.

The school psychologist claimed there didn’t seem to be anything wrong, so testing wasn’t necessary.  I pulled the parents aside and alluded to the unsayable about their rights in requesting testing (hint-hint, nudge-nudge.)  The parents were willing, but the process was long.

He began this year in mainstream, the testing having been conducted, but the results were not in to beat the start of the school year.  I called the counselors and asked what his status was.  I know I wasn’t his teacher anymore, but, damn it, you just can’t invest your heart in a kid for an entire year and then forget about it come the next fall.

I got the call today.  Oct. 1st, 2008.  He tested RSP, just as an entire staff of trained and caring teachers expected.  This nice, hard-working, struggling young man was finally placed in a class more suited for his needs.  He and his family are just happy to have a term for his struggles, and a placement that might make his final middle school year a more suitable one.  

All he ever wanted was to keep up and learn.  Now he’ll be in a place to do that.  It took a while, but the battle was won.


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  1. Mike Albert
    October 5, 2008

    Your student needed extra help because he struggled with writing due to learning disabilities, and he probably struggles with reading as well. So now he is getting special attention with the goal of giving him special help in English/Language Arts. Although it took a while, at least the system worked the way it was supposed to.

    What is sad to me is if that child were in our school’s RSP program for English/Language Arts, he would also be placed in my history class with 11 other RSP students, 10 second language learners, and 15 other struggling students without any support whatsoever from an RSP teacher. If a student with disabilities struggles in reading and writing in language arts, what makes anyone think that he/she will be more successful reading and writing in history/social studies or in science? It doesn’t make sense to me.

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