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The Daily Eastern News

Guest Column: Testing Services Center should be restored

Dr. Michael Kuo, Guest Columnist

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We are treating our learning-disabled students poorly, and we need to get our act together.

We have shut down the Testing Services Center that provided these students and their teachers with testing accommodations, supervised by people with training in learning disabilities.

Now learning-disabled students are telling me that their grades have dropped significantly since we cut the testing services.

They say they are applying to other schools, in Illinois and elsewhere, where learning-disabled students are not thrown under the budget bus.

I am told that, strictly speaking, Eastern is in legal compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) without testing services, since we instruct our teachers to accommodate learning-disabled students with special testing environments.

But the best-case result of our policy is that teachers with little or no training in this area do their very best to provide testing accommodations. Perhaps they even call the Office of Disability Services for advice.

In the worst-case scenarios, teachers do not much care. Students are telling me about being placed at cramped desks in crowded, noisy hallways for “testing accommodations,” and even just being refused any special accommodations at all.

We are lucky it has not occurred to any of these students to sue us to the moon and back for saying: “Sorry we brought you here under false pretenses. Sorry about the two-point hit to your GPA. Sorry you have to apply to other schools now, with that GPA. Oh, and we’re sorry you’ll have to uproot, move and restart your academic career. But hey, can we give you some letters of recommendation?”

Readers may recall the April 2016 efforts of student Michelle Falada on behalf of the testing center. Falada collected nearly 200 signatures online and met with President Glassman. Perhaps as a result of her actions, the Testing Center was reopened and remained open for one more semester. Now Falada has graduated. The Center is closed.

Come on, Eastern. Do we really have to have Michelle Falada on campus every semester to do right by our learning-disabled students?

I encourage everyone in the Eastern community to speak out about this.

I encourage The Daily Eastern News to do some investigative reporting on this story.

We should get this right.

 

Dr. Michael Kuo is a professor of English. He can be reached at 581-2812 or mfkuo@eiu.edu.

2 Comments

  • Michelle F

    Powerful article. I am the former student and activist that the article refers to. I would be willing to do more work to get the Test Center back for Eastern’s deserving students, even if I have graduated. As Dr. Kuo mentions, there really needs to be more interest at both student and faculty levels for the unique needs of students with learning disabilities. This is an issue that I faced when writing my petition.

  • Jeff

    I would add that referencing these students should be done with student first language. Students with learning disabilities, not learning disabled students. Being a special educator we work hard at recognizing the individual student first that has some type of disability we need to address to make them successful.

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
Guest Column: Testing Services Center should be restored