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Hospitalized 4th grader, hooked up to machines, asked to take standardized test

In the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff category: A fourth grader with severe epilepsy being screened at a hospital for possible brain surgery was lying in bed when a teacher walked in and asked him to take a New York State high-stakes standardized test.


According to this story on Channel CBS6 in Albany, Joey Furlong was at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center on Long Island last week and was hooked up to several medical machines, when, according to his mother, Tami Furlong:

….a woman walked into his room with a piece of paper that had his name on it and told my husband that she was a teacher from the New York City School District and that she was there to administer the 4th grade New York State test to my son.

The family had already talked to his school and made arrangements for him to make up the test when he was out of the hospital, where he was undergoing tests to see if he could undergo brain surgery to help alleviate what CBS6 said was “life-threatening epilepsy.” So they were shocked when the teacher walked in.

How did it happen?  It turns out that New York State law requires that hospitals provide school instruction to kids who are there for more than three days. That, apparently, also means that it has to offer annual standardized tests when they are being given to students in schools.

Tami Furlong’s husband was in the room when a teacher — one of five who are on the Cohen Children’s Medical Center staff — walked in talking about the test. Tami Furlong was quoted by CBS6 as saying:

I would like to hope she would not have taken his arm that has an IV and oximeter on it and put a number 2 pencil in it, I would like to hope that she would wait to talk to the family… It just floored me that somebody is sending teachers to sick kids and expecting them to take a New York State test. To me, that is just outrageous.


Joey, as you might have guessed, did not take the test. The New York Department of Education told CBS6 that students are get a medical exemption from a standardized test if they are “incapacitated by illness or injury during the entire test administration and make-up periods and have on file, documentation from a medical practitioner that they were too incapacitated to be tested at the school, at home, or in a medical setting.”

Like I said, you can’t make up this stuff — at least you can’t make it up AND expect people to believe you!

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · May 2, 2013

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