ORLANDO, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – A parent of a dying special needs 11-year-old has to prove that her son can’t take Florida’s standardized test.
Andre Rediske says that her son was born with brain damage, suffers from cerebral palsy and is legally blind. She said trying to teach Ethan, who is now in a morphine coma, how to keep his gaze focused or to say “yes” or “no” was a huge accomplishment.
The state of Florida made her son take the test last year because every student is required to do so. Ethan spent roughly six hours over the course of two weeks being led through a test. During the test he was asked about eating a peach, but Ethan can’t eat peaches or any food because he has a feeding tube.
“He doesn’t know what a peach tastes like,” his mother said to the Orlando Sentinel. “He will never know what a peach tastes like. Or an apple. Or bananas. It’s completely irrelevant to his life.”
That question sent his mother over the edge and she has been pushing for three years against profoundly disabled children being required to take standardized tests.
Orange County School Board member Rick Roach explained that a 9-year-old boy named Michael who was born without much more than a brain stem had to take the same standardized test
“He’s blind. And they’re showing him pictures of a giraffe, a monkey and an elephant — and asking him which one is the monkey,” Roach said to the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m watching all this and just about to lose my mind.”
The Orlando Sentinel reached out to the Florida Alternative Assessments about this issue.
“These summative assessments used in Florida are one way to measure student mastery of these standards,” a spokeswoman responded in an email.
A deputy chancellor for curriculum with the Florida Department of Education stated that testing proves that the state does care about students.
“We have come so far,” Tappen said to the Orlando Sentinel. “We want to keep these students as alive and enriched as possible.”
She also noted that federal law requires the testing to take place.
“As a parent of a disabled child, I spend my life keeping him alive,” Andrea said. “We have so many battles to fight. And at the end of the day, I am simply out of energy to keep on fighting them.”