Testing the Tests for Students With Cognitive Disabilities
Kansas City-based photographer Steve Hebert describes the need to be flexible on a delicate assignment for Education Week photographing a story on field-testing of assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards in a special education class in Buhler, Kan.
Before I traveled to Buhler Grade School, on the flat plains of central Kansas, I was already made aware we wouldn’t be able to use any names of the kids in Greta Smith’s special education class. I found out, when I got to the school, I was only going to be able to show the faces of three of the eight kids in class because not every student had signed releases.
Greta Smith’s class had taken part in field-testing of assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards but designed for students with cognitive disabilities, and I needed to make images of the teacher and her students.
When I entered Ms. Smith’s class, I was greeted with smiles and questions by nearly all the students who wanted to know who I was, and more importantly, why I needed two cameras to do my job! The students were an inquisitive bunch and it became clear they had a strong bond with their teacher, who was engaged and working hands-on with them. Ms. Smith, who has been a teacher for 10 years and has taught special education for seven, went on with the classroom activities as I moved around the room and focused on the kids I could photograph. To be honest, being told I could only photograph three students (those with photo releases) made my hunt for pictures that much easier.
In the short time I had with the class, I was able to see the students engaging with technology, taking part in story time, and even participating in a short bit of dancing, which was fun to watch and challenging to photograph!
This is the best job in the world, even when there are small barriers in the way of working the way you would like to.
I left Buhler Grade School with images I knew captured the story and an lesson in how to be flexible in covering a story.
Steve Hebert is an award winning Kansas City-based photojournalist whose passion for visual storytelling has taken him across the country and around the world. He has spent over 15 years working professionally as a photojournalist for a number of newspapers and magazines, including Time, U.S. News and World Report, Business Week, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. His ongoing project, “The Quiet Professionals,” is a photo book that features unprecedented documentation of the U.S. Special Forces. Steve is one of the only photojournalists to have been granted access to embed with the Green Berets in Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, Africa, and the Philippines. To see more of Steve Herbet’s work please visit his website at http://www.stevehebert.net/