Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Sure Hope You Pass This Test!

As a special education teacher, I am sometimes called upon to test students for disabilities. This may involve administering the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities, the TOWL (Test of Written Language), or behavioral rating scales, among others. These tests, of course, paint a picture of only part of a child's learning profile. Sometimes, there are other factors that may shed light on why a student is struggling in school academically, behaviorally, or both.   Recently, I joked about creating an assessment of my own for the parents of hard-core struggling middle school students, in the hope that some helpful insights might be gained. I'd call it the DPA, Dysfunctional Parenting Assessment. Here are a few questions whose answers I think would tell us a lot more than some of the other tests we give....

1.  Why did you enroll your child in mid-September, when you've lived just a few miles from school since July?

a)  I think it's fine. Nothing important happens in the first week of school anyway.
b)  I didn't know the start date.*
c)  I tried homeschooling, but I got sick of having her home all day it turned out to be harder than I thought.

2.  What time does your child go to sleep at night?

a.  She's usually asleep by about 9pm
b. One or two am; he can't go to sleep without his TV on and really loves those late-night shows!
c. I tell him to go to bed, but just keeps playing those video games! What am I supposed to do?!*
d. I have no idea

3.  When is the first time your child smoked cigarettes?

a. I gave him his first cigarette when he was eleven.
b. Oh, he doesn't smoke; that smell is just my smokes; I can't survive without a butt or two in the car on the way to school, but I keep the window cracked.
c.  Are you kidding me?

4.  Please rate your child's bartending skills on a scale of 1 to 10.

a. Excellent. He's a great mixer and makes a mean bloody mary!
b. Are you kidding me? She's a pro! You should see how many cans of Bud she can carry at one time!
c. Junior is a chip off the old block; he can keep up with the best of them, serving them up and throwing them back!
d. none of the above

5.  When do you plan to stop sleeping with your 6th grader?

a.  I do not sleep with my child.
b.  It's just me and junior at home here; we do everything together, including sleep. Besides, I'm lonely.
c.. He needs me. I just can't say no. If he didn't sleep in my bed, neither one of us would ever get any sleep.*

6.  How many hours of Grand Theft Auto does your child play per day?

a. none
b. two to four
c. six
d. I have no idea; he/she pretty much never stops.

7.  Which of the following describes your homework routine at home?

a. We hit the books immediately after he/she walks through the door.
b. He plays for a while, but we make sure he starts his homework after supper.
c. My child does all of her homework at school; she tells me it's done, and I trust her.*
d. If he'd bring it home, I would help him. It's not my fault he/she forgets it every day.

8.  What type of consequences does your child have when he/she gets in trouble at school?

a. None. School is school. It's not really fair to hold it against him here at home.
b. If he gets in trouble at school, I take his favorite video game and only let him play the other ones.
c. I'd punish her, but she really doesn't care, no matter what I do, so I don't even bother anymore.

9. Your child has been failing four subjects for weeks....

a. You're the teacher! Isn't it your job to fix that?
b. The teachers are just out to get him. They always have been.*
c. He's failing??

10.  How many hours per week do you spend together?

a. We share a lot of time together; the bar has double bubble from 3 to 7, and we are really getting great at pool!
b. As much as possible-I really want him to know that we are a tight family unit.
c. We do everything together. He'd rather hang out with me than kids his own age. We're best friends.*

11.  What kind of chores does your child have at home?

a. She has to feed the dog, but that's about it.
b. She has a few chores to do each week.
c. She has chores but does a crappy job, so I just do them myself, rather than fight with her.*
d. Being a kid is hard. I don't think it's fair to make her do chores that her dad and I can do.

12.  Why is your child absent so often?

a) Because I'm too hungover he's too tired to get up in the morning.
b) He's so smart, he only needs to go a couple of days a week. Besides, we're busy.
c) I can't afford a babysitter for her younger siblings.
d) My child is only absent a few days per year.

*Excuses I've actually heard from parents over the years, believe it or not.

-None of these situations are issues for my current students; I'm being facetious (though each of these has come up in my many years of teaching.)
-I am not saying that every struggling student has a parent at fault; I know that there are sometimes uncontrollable medical or emotional issues behind problems at school and that perfectly wonderful parents sometimes have extremely difficult children.
-I have compassion for parents who don't have the skills for dealing with difficult children, and I respect those who ask for help and take steps to become better parents.  I have little tolerance for the others.


  1. Even though I am DysFUNctional Mom, I think you'd like me as a parent of one of your students. And I think I'd pass your test!

  2. Being a teacher myself, I have considered creating a 'parent quiz' plenty of times. I love it!

  3. hubby's ex actually said to him once that the school is responsible for raising their son...after all they have him the most hours of the day!!

  4. I was one who really did get all my homework done in school--I hated homework so much! I figured being in school all day was bad enough, I didn't want to work at home too! My brain needed a break.

    Only once in awhile did I bring work home: shorthand (at the beginning), biology (just because I didn't have time to do it in school) and those stupid science projects we'd have to do now and then that really the parents mostly did.

  5. OMG! What a riot! All of my teacher friends would LOVE LOVE LOVE this test.

    I remember back when I was a grocery store cashier working until midnight. I was STUNNED at how many people would be dragging their school aged kids through the store past 10pm.

    Some I was sympathetic for as it was clear mom or dad just got off work and this was the only time to get essentials. But the rest? OMG - loading up on cigs and beer, letting the kids run wild, promising candy and then screaming at them for not standing still. Yeah, no wonder kids act up or fall asleep in class and can't pay attention.

  6. Yikes! You are a saint teaching is no easy job! Happy New Year!

  7. EVERY parent should take this test. Period.

  8. These are hilarious! Oh my gosh. Too funny.

  9. I never brought home homework and my parents never really pressed me about it. I managed to get through HS with a B/C average and that was fine with me. :) I had a million chores, took care of my sisters, had my own bed and bedroom and we didn't have video games until I was a senior in HS - and we had Colecovision haha Not even Atari! I grew up very independent and able to do just about everything but cook for myself. (I burned a lot of food that first year or four.)

  10. Wow, I'll bet your "test" is accurate. A lot of parents have never matured and are still living like college students. Or they have to be cool because they are losers themselves.
    Hey which ever parent has the kids who are good bartenders, send them over, we're hiring at Oscars. LOL

    There should be a test to become parents.

    Hope all is well at the 4444 house!

  11. Awesome! According to these standards, I'm a rockin' awesome parent! Shew!

  12. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!
    The hardest part of teaching may be working with the parents!

  13. is a little scary, but your test might just be necessary! So many parents seem to think that it is their job to buy the kid's video games and the school's job to raise them. Sad.

  14. I hear ya, Mrs 4444. Can't tell you how many times I've seen a kid for a physical and when I get to the part about "school" I get a grunt and a shrug. When I look at the accompanying parent, he/she is asleep. Head down on the desk. In the exam room.

    Or how many times I've seen a kid for "sleep disturbance". Cause kiddie is falling asleep everyday in school, and mom wants BLOOD TESTS. Cause something MUST be WRONG. Then after some investigation, I find out that sleepy kiddie has the tv on in his room all night. When I suggest turning it off, mom says "he can't sleep with it off, neither can I, we all have tvs in our bedrooms cause that's the only way we can fall asleep". Right. But your kid is UP ALL NIGHT WATCHING TV.


  15. Wow. Thanks for the reassurance on MY parenting!

  16. Interesting! I have to admit that I would probably be picking one of your answers for the what time does your child go to bed. She is homeschooled, so at least it's not a reason why she misses school. She got her sleeping habits from her mom!

  17. Oh baby these are good. Life is good! The power just came back on....woohoo!

    Enjoy your day!!!

  18. Wow! Some of those actual answers are frightening. Poor kids.

  19. My co-worker told me she couldn't afford to pay for her son to take the SATs ($40)one day. The next day, she came to work raving about the new Rock Band game she had purchased ($50) on her way home the night before. Her son is in community college because they didn't require the SATs. I am not saying that community college is bad but she made it his only choice because she put a new video game before his testing fee.

  20. Evansmom-That is ROTTEN. Selfish parents are so oblivious.

  21. I have to show this to my mom- she teaches middle school and I hear her talk about this stuff all the time. Sad.

  22. Oh boy. Makes you want to pull your hair out eh? When will people wake up? There is so much laziness and denial in this country. Ya gotta laugh or you'd cry... :0

  23. Oh I love this -- especially being married to an educator who gets all sorts of ... interesting parents. Great start, although I think there are some more questions to be asked!


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