Case Study: Bao


Bao is enrolled in your school. The person who brought her to school said that she knew a little English and had been in school in Fresno before she moved here.

When asked her name, she did not answer, but took out a pencil and wrote a lot of random letters (see figure 4.3, page 113). Then, she was asked:

How old are you?

No answer

Tell me about your family.

No answer.

What are you going to do after school today?


The person assessing her did not ask any more questions, as it seemed obvious that she either could not or was not willing to answer.

Bao could not recognize her name from a field of a series of names. When given a sheet on which the letters of the English alphabet had been printed, she read them as random letters, but mostly called them G. When shown a series of numbers, she read “E, A, I, J, M, J, M, G, BO, B, J.” When shown the colors, she appeared to be guessing randomly. She did not attempt to identify shapes; in fact, she did not seem to understand the concept of shapes.

  • Where do you start with a student like Bao?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What do you know about Bao based on the information given?
  • If Bao were seven years old, where would you place her?
  • What if she were 9, 12, or 17?

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