As testing season draws near, students and parents alike are getting nervous. While more students are opting out, others are struggling to keep up with the demands that testing week brings, a time that can be particularly difficult for children with special needs.
“A lot of people are frustrated,” said Dr. Odey Raviv, an educational therapist and learning specialist with an office in Glen Cove. “The rigors of test taking are taking over the schools’ focus, and a lot of kids have a really hard time because they are asked to do way beyond they have been prepped for.”
To ease the anxiety, Raviv is one option parents have to turn to for help. Currently, he works with 15 to 20 kids to not only help them prepare for the tests, but to also help change their approach to academics.
“More parents are concerned about their children being able to cope,” Raviv said.
Since the Common Core standards were implemented in New York schools, Raviv’s client base has increased, and he said parents have new worries, ranging from academic abilities to the impact the new standards and the test-focused culture is having on a well-rounded education.
“Many parents are wondering if their children can thrive in public schools and are considering taking them to private schools,” said Raviv. “Extras like art and music are being cut out of the curriculum.”
Furthermore, he said children with learning issues are being negatively impacted by the standards.
“Common Core does not embrace the uniqueness and talents of kids,” said Raviv. “Kids are asked to read at a higher level, putting them in a position of uncertainty, leaving them feeling negative and overwhelmed…tests squash self-esteem.”
“A one-size-fits-all approach is not fair,” said kindergarten teacher Christine Robinson, a former Glen Cove resident who now lives in Suffolk. She has also been frustrated with the new standards and the impact they have on kids with special needs and English Language Learners.
“Every milestone these kids make is huge,” she said. “When they fail, they feel horrible.”
Raviv said one of the things he aims for is to not only help teach skills but to also show that he is in “their corner.”
“They shouldn’t feel distraught…I try to help them to be hopeful,” said Raviv.
His approach focuses on teaching organizational procedures, reading strategies, critical thinking, time management, study skills and memory techniques.
“The key with a learning specialist is that we aim to help over the long run and not just get homework done,” said Raviv.
Students in third grade through eighth grade will begin the New York State exams in English Language Arts on April 14; for parents who think their child might benefit from extra help, Raviv is one local option.