How High Schools Can Grade for Autistic Students


Hello I’m Thaddeus Campbell. This is Matthew Morse, Social Worker for Maple
Shade High School, and we’re talking about Stairway to STEM. Matt, last time we talked about a parent connecting
to services. I want to talk about something that came as
a little bit of a surprise to me in our interaction and that’s grading. What restrictions or parameters are there
on a school when it comes to grading a student on the spectrum? Well with that IEP we can do what we want
as far as grading goes. We can do traditional grading or what we can
do is get really creative and really try to focus on the skills that are needed. What advantages are there to challenging the
traditional grading system and working on something more specific to an individual child? That allows us to really put an emphasis on
what it is that we want to be doing. So, in other words if we are focusing on a
series of skills, like say note taking or getting to class on time, or getting to school
on time, we can change the grading system to incorporate those particular things. If I’m really focusing on the skills and not
so much worried about the number grade or the letter grade because that’s not telling
me everything that I need to know. What response have you had in working with
teachers? Uhmm, for the, it actually, this last past
year was a lot more positive, but still it’s not easy to get people to see beyond the
traditional grading system. Teachers tend to worry how am I going to be
grading that student? But again, we are all a team and we are all
here providing support and we are trying to remind everybody that we are working on some things
that are specific and we do have this legal document that helps to support us. Do you see any advantages, that maybe a teacher
who is a little skeptical, any advantages that there are for them in being able to use
an alternative grading system for a student? I think it helps teachers to see that education
is about the individual student and it’s really having to teachers think about what
does that individual student need? How can creating a different grading system
and expressing that to a child on the spectrum help them cope with simply being in the school
environment? A student who is on the spectrum tends to
be very inflexible. I’ve never noticed that with my son. He’s never had resistence to change at all. That was sarcasm. Right, so part of that skill that we are working
on is that ability to be flexible, to be able to change your plan on the fly. And so, one of the stresses that comes up
is if you are a student and you are comparing yourself to everybody else you think that
there’s something wrong if you are not being graded a certain way. So, it really is a constant practice in talking
about we are going to be doing things a different way. Any new skill that you are going to teach
you have to remember that it is going to take some time before it becomes muscle memory. That’s a perfect end point because I have
another topic I want to talk to you about and we are going to bring that out next time. I’m Thaddeus Campbell, this is Matthew Morse
who is going to be a frequent resource of mine. This is Stairway to STEM.

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