Letter to the Editor from Martha Downer-Assaf, Ph.D.

Photo: Genna Schwarz

In response to your editorial about extended time and testing I’d like to offer a couple of thoughts.

Your operating premise is that students/parents who are abusive of this “perk” are the rule and not the exception. I beg to differ with that. Many students excel with appropriate learning accommodations because they’re twice exceptional. They are very bright, but they have a learning difference.

There are not a lot of schools where bright students with learning differences can thrive and meet their potential. Pace is one of those places as a result of thoughtful planning, hiring and implementation of learning resource centers.

Many people in the special education community have commented that our school educates those who are twice exceptional exceptionally well. I do encourage you to read about being twice exceptional as there are countless articles written on this topic. I suggest the work by Beckley or Callahan.

Secondly, asking a child who truly has a disability to take a test without extended time is like asking the child with CP to function without her wheelchair or a student who needs glasses to take a test without those glasses. It’s a proper accommodation so that a child can reach their God-given potential. Perhaps you can ponder the difference between equity and equality. It is my belief that the difference between equity and equality is commonly understood at Pace Academy

Along those lines, schools are built for certain kinds of learners and test takers. If you don’t fall in that narrow band, it can be a bit of an uphill battle. Good for the kids who thrive in a traditional school setting; not all kids are wired to thrive in that environment.

Finally, please remember that students who actually need extended time in order to communicate all that they have learned also take twice as long to do their homework, read and complete assignments. School is laborious for them. It’s very, very time consuming and difficult.

To the children who need extended time and are using it properly, I think you owe them an apology, and if you still think you’re right, take off your glasses for the rest of the semester; see how it goes. Or look online. See what it looks like to read when you’re truly dyslexic. Read it might something this like if truly you’re lysdexic.


Martha Downer-Assaf, Ph.D.