(This page is for Nick, Paige, Nicholas, and Tammy)
RECORDS--School, Work, Health
For a civil trial, records of the victim's scholastic achievements, extra curricular activities, tests, ACT or SAT testing, and work or employment history may be used by the plaintiff or the defense to present their version of the case.
Grades and Test Records
Most of the standardized tests measure the same things: word analysis, vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, language mechanics, language expression, math computation, math concepts and applications, study skills, and study/reference skills.
Grade point averages or letter grades give some indication of student achievement. These scores provide information about the overall achievement when looked at over a period of years. To take one year out of context proves very little. Grades will be of little use determining artistic or creative potential. They are merely indicators of some potential.
By state mandate, Iowa students are tested in grades 4, 8, and 11. Elementary schools use the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and grades 7 through 12 use the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED) among other tests. These tests are given throughout the school year with fall, winter, and spring testing periods. A student in fourth grade whose reading comprehension is tested in October at 4.5 (4th year, fifth month reads at the same level as students tested at fourth grade in January) and means the student is reading a little above grade level. All of the students for that year are lumped together, those who are tested in the fall with those tested in the winter and spring. One should be aware of the timing of the test, it could make a bit of difference reading the results.
The ITED and ITBS are divided into "achievement level descriptions." For example, in the reading achievement level descriptions are: High Performance Level with 17.2% of students, intermediate Performance Levels with 67.2% of students, and Low Performance Levels with 15.6% of students.
The High Performance Level is then divided into distinguished and accomplished. 12.5% of students perform at the distinguished level--understand factual information, draws conclusion and makes inferences about the motives and feelings of characters, applies what has been read to new situations, identifies the main idea, evaluates the style and structure of the text, and interprets non literal language. 4.7% of students perform at the accomplished level--understands most factual information, often draws conclusions and makes inferences about the motives and feelings of characters; and usually can apply what has been read to new situations, identify the main ideas, evaluate the style and structure of the text, and interpret non literal language.
The Intermediate Performance Level is divided into skilled and moderate levels. 12.5% of students are in the skilled level--understands most factual information, often draws conclusions and makes inferences about the motives and feelings of characters; and usually can apply what has been read to new situations, identify the main ideas, evaluate the style and structure of the text, and interpret non literal language. 54.7% of students fall in the moderate level--understands some factual information, sometimes draws conclusions and makes inferences about the motives and feelings of characters; and is beginning to be able to apply what has been read to new situations, identify the main ideas, evaluate the style and structure of the text, and interpret non literal language.
Low Performance Levels are divided into marginal and weak. 15.8% of students fall in the marginal level--can understand little factual information, occasionally draws conclusions or makes simple inferences about characters and identifies the main idea, and is not likely to be able to evaluate the style and structure of the txt or interpret non literal language. 0.0% of students are in the weak category--understands the meaning of only single words or short phrases, rarely draws conclusions or make inference about characters, and cannot make applications, identify the main idea, evaluate the style and structure of the text, or interpret non literal language.
Students are rated with a percentile rank, this doesn't mean a grade level rank. The % National Rank Scale defines low as 1-40%; 41-89% as intermediate; and 90-99% high. If you had a 79% rank you would be in the of the intermediate range. This means little unless compared with previous testing to show growth or lack there of. For administrators and teachers the tests may point out areas of the curriculum that may be deficient or in need of further attention.
Some aspects of curriculum NOT measured by the ITBS include: speaking skills (direct), writing ability (direct), listening skills, health and safety understandings, physical education and recreation knowledge and skills, visual and performing arts knowledge and abilities, computer literacy, consumer economics and industrial technology skills and understandings, science laboratory skills and knowledge, social emotional development, and second language learning. From handout entitled "Reporting Assessment Results: Issues and Methods", Cedar Falls AEA, September 10, 1999 by David Frisbie, Iowa Testing Programs.
There are areas in which these tests should be updated. For instance, in the information/library skills area questions are still being asked about the Reader's Guide. With the move to online reference research tools such questions should be reevaluated. Additionally, there may be areas that are tested which for, which are either no never were covered by a school district.
Until recently, test scores of special education students were excluded. This may be one reason the test scores are or happen to be lower than in the past.
In one situation, the defendant's lawyer seemed not to know one did not need to have an ACT or SAT score to be admitted to a community college. Community colleges may have their own entrance tests or requirements for admission. The defense lawyer raked a father over the coals for not knowing what the ITED tests meant and not knowing his daughter's grades, and so on. This didn't win the lawyer many points with the jury. An older male juror became upset and shed a few tears on the father's behalf.
Ten year-old Nick was killed when an elderly man crossed the highway's center line into an oncoming van driven by Nick's mother. Nick died due to a broken neck. The man causing the crash died at the scene. The defense lawyer tried to maintain he was already dead of a heart attack when the vehicles collided. However, the man was going up hill at the time. Later, it was determined he wasn't dead before the crash, but after. Nick had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and was on medication. The defense lawyer, for the civil case, told the jury Nick's potential was less because of his ADD condition. Unfortunately for the defense lawyer, there were three teachers on the jury. They had other ideas.
Eight-year-old girl, Paige, was thrown from the van her mother was driving when it was broadsided by a man running a stop sign. At the civil trial, in Paige's case, the defense lawyer told the jury Paige was worth less monetarily because she was female.
Another Nicholas was killed when he and another boy played near the street in leaves, raked to the curb. A teenager, in a pick-up truck, stuck and killed both boys and never stopped. Nick's mother was not aware her son had tested very highly on a fourth grade intelligence test. The results of the intelligence test would probably have been discussed with Nick's parents at the next parent-teacher conference which was scheduled for the day after Nick was killed. Nick's parents obtained his school records for their lawyer, but didn't copy them or read them. The defense lawyer, in the civil case, insinuated Nick's mom was a poor parent because she didn't know Nick had tested so well. The defense lawyer also tried to make insinuate my friend was a bad mother because she didn't teach her son not to play in the street.
If you are in such a situation, make an appointment with the guidance counselor and find out what these tests mean. It's too late when you are already in court without answers. You would think your lawyer would tell you to do this, but in the five situations I know of, no one did. Obtain copies of the records for yourself. You are entitled to these school records as a parent. There are so many things to consider and wonder and obsess about.
If possible, contact grief counseling organizations. Ask to talk with persons in similar situations to your situation. It may be of some help. It will also help to talk with others in similar situations who have had to deal with criminal, civil, or both criminal and civil trials.
Work Records and Health Records
Make the records as complete as possible. Obtain hourly wages or salary received, names of supervisors, employment evaluation records and so on.
These situations are illustrative of what may be said in court. "Lawyers are not required to tell the truth in court", Judge Margaret Lindgren.
Kohn, Alfie, THE CASE AGAINST STANDARDIZED TESTING, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, c2000, 94p.