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The School Year Isn’t Over Yet – Still Time For Positive Change

The last quarter of the school year is here. As a parent, you can easily become frustrated as you look back on your child’s school progression. Report cards came out last week. How did your child do? When you look at their IEP goals, are they making progress towards mastery? Are the goals written too low or are they written in such a way that it’s hard to tell what your child has to do in order to master them?

Some of the things that you could do now, and not wait til the very end of the year, is:
– Especially if your child is transitioning to a new school, make sure the IEP really explains what your child needs. Remember that the teacher that will get your child next year knows nothing about them and will get their first impression from the IEP. If it needs changes, make them NOW. Don’t wait.
– The school board will be offering trainings over the summer for staff. If you think your teacher, paraprofessional, SLP, principal, etc needs training, ask them to contact the district to find out the dates of training and how to sign up. If you’re not sure if their staff has already been trained… ask.
– Look at the report card. If your child is getting all As and Bs and not really learning the things that you think should warrant the grades, ask how they’re showing what they know. Far too often kids make the honor roll and then move onto the next setting (middle or high school) only to move from straight As to straight Ds and Fs. You want progress to be real progress.
– If the report card indicates Ds and Fs, ask why. Ask to see work samples and offer feedback as to why you think your child is not grasping the concepts. Ask what the school is going to do different to help your child learn. When students fail to make progress, the school is required to take a harder look and make changes – although oftentimes the issue just continues without a change in approach. Then you end up with a kid who has had the same deficit year after year after year.
– If you’re not sure about progress ask for assessments to be conducted before the school year is over – you don’t want to wait until the end of the summer/beginning of next school year when there will naturally be some level of regression. You can ask for a Diagnostic Assessment of Reading (DAR) – forms A or B (one at the beginning of the year, and one at the end); a Rigby; GMADE or TOMA (math); and writing samples with a rubric.
– Seriously consider inclusion for next year – or more inclusion if your child is already included for some time each day. It’s best to start including your child from day one when ALL of the students are introduced to the new teacher and she/he reviews the plans for the coming year. If your child begins inclusion in October, they miss all of the introductory activities that the rest of the kids get to experience. Inclusion can be for an hour a day, the full day, or anything in between.
– If the school is telling you that your child isn’t meeting promotion criteria, ask why. The only mandatory retention year is 3rd grade, and that’s only if your child has not been retained before – and this is only if your child is on regular standards. Many kids with disabilities would be better off using the extra time they get in school at the end of their education to focus on employment and independent living skills.

Even though we only have one quarter left, we HAVE one quarter left. Make it count by actively engaging in your child’s education. Let your voice be heard and don’t settle for responses that make no sense to you. Reach out to organizations such as Family Network on Disabilities to help you figure out if what you’re told is in fact “policy” or “law” as parents are often told.

Good luck for a strong ending to the school year!

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