5 Questions Parents Should Ask When They Receive Their Child’s Quarterly IEP Progress Report
When you receive your child’s IEP progress report, it’s an opportunity to ensure that the school system is following the IEP and adequately measuring your child’s progress as well as to ensure the IEP is appropriately addressing your child’s needs. You should ask yourself:
#1: Were you given enough information (data) to understand how/why your child is making sufficient progress or not and does the school data support the reported progress?
When a school system reports that your child is “making sufficient progress,” the statement must be supported by data. It should contain actual data in the IEP progress report or the school system has failed to provide adequate documentation that the IEP has addressed your child’s needs. So, if your child’s progress report says only that your child is “making sufficient progress” without much detail to back it up, request the data that supports the reports of progress. Also, if the progress report states that your child is NOT making sufficient progress on a goal or goals, they are obligated to convene an IEP meeting to address the failure to make sufficient progress and make any necessary changes to the IEP to ensure your child’s needs are being met.
#2: How is the school system measuring your child’s progress?
The school system should be measuring your child’s progress on goals and objectives in a manner that is consistent with how the goal and objectives are written. This includes things like the same number of trials (e.g. 4 out 5 trials) and the correct level and type of prompt (e.g. X number of verbal prompts). The way progress is measured should be consistent from quarter to quarter so that you and the school system are comparing apples to apples, so you can actually measure progress from quarter to quarter and determine whether a goal can be achieved by the end of the life of the IEP.
#3: Is the school system providing all your child’s “supplementary aids, services program modifications, and supports” as written in that IEP section?
Your child’s success in the classroom can often depend on whether the teacher and other providers are providing all the supplementary aids, services, program modifications and supports that are listed in the IEP. This is often difficult to know without directly asking the teachers and the team. If your child is having difficulties in the classroom with things like completing assignments or managing his/her behavior, discuss with the school whether these accommodations are being provided as written and request an IEP team meeting if any need to be modified.
#4: Is the school system addressing your child’s goals and objectives in the appropriate setting?
The Services section of the IEP should explain the kind of environment (where) your child is receiving specialized instruction to work on a particular goal. Sometimes the question of “where” is as important as the “how,” and should be based your child’s learning style and strengths and weaknesses and NOT what the school already has available. Is it a social skills goal that is best addressed in the general education classroom? A community goal that can only be addressed out in the community? A reading comprehension goal where your child would benefit from a small group discussion? If you are satisfied with the way the IEP is written, then ensure the school system is addressing those goals in the correct setting. If you think the IEP needs tweaking for your child to make progress, request an IEP meeting to make the change(s).
#5: Is a better/different home-school communication system needed?
First, if you don’t have a home-school communication system in your child’s IEP and you feel like your child would benefit from one, request that one be added. A home-school communication system should be providing you with the information you need to understand your child’s progress throughout the quarter and to support your child’s learning both in the home and at school. Determine what kinds of things you want to know (academic skills, upcoming assignment or tests, peer interactions, toileting and eating, etc.) Then determine how often you want such reports (e.g. daily or weekly?) Try to balance your need to have enough information with the what is practical for your child’s educators to report. Then ensure the school is actually doing it.
Consider the help of an educational consultant, or special education lawyer to understand your child’s program and get the supports and services your child needs.
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