Karen Iovino contacted us about school standardized tests and children with Type 1 diabetes. She wanted to learn what other parents of children with Type 1 did when it came to such tests. We encouraged her to share her experience:
Florida third graders recently took the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) tests, a series of four 80-minute sessions that can determine whether a child should move on to fourth grade. A year ago, we faced the difficult decision of whether or not to allow our son, who has Type 1 diabetes, to sit for this high-stakes test.
It had only been a year since my son’s diagnosis, and he was still honeymooning when we began to consider whether he should take the exam. It was a struggle to find the correct insulin doses to ward off highs and lows. There were often near-sleepless nights of waking up to CGM alarms and then waking up a sleeping boy to give him milk or juice. The nightly correction often meant we had to deal with high blood sugar levels for much of the next day. With this happening every day, it was hard for us to visualize our son taking a test that could determine his academic progress.
According to the state of Florida, only students with Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) could get medical waivers for the tests. My son was on a 504 plan, which requires less accommodations from the school. I contacted our school district office, and they researched medical waivers for us. They were surprised to learn that my child didn’t qualify.
Learn more about 504 plans by reading “How a School 504 Plan Helps a Child with Type 1.”
We considered the option of invalidating his test. He could sign his name on it and refuse to take it while sitting for each 80-minute session until the testing sessions were complete. If he did that, however, he would have to sit for a different test, the SAT-10, at the end of the school year or go to summer school and take the SAT-10 in July to see if he would be promoted to 4th grade.
I pulled my son out of public school the day before the test and began homeschooling him; it was the right decision for us. I took him to work with me every day for the last 3 months of school and hired a tutor to help us stay on track. It was hard at times, but worth every minute. After summer break I re-enrolled him back into public school as a thriving 4th grader, one who never had to take the test.
If you would like to share your experience with standardized testing and Type 1 diabetes, please email our editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will forward any responses to Karen. Responses may also be used for a future story on the subject.
This story has been edited for length and clarity.
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