Aug 022013
 

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Q: I need information on adequate yearly progress. My child’s teacher is giving my son good grades, but I am not seeing the progress.

Answer:


A child must make “adequate yearly progress” as defined by the child’s IEP. This is why writing specific, measureable goals is critical for determining your child’s progress. If each goal is not clearly defined, the school can base the child’s so called progress on their subjective judgement rather than on objective data.  IDEA requires that goals be specific and measurable, but goals are often not specific enough to track progress in a meaningful way.

Good goals should be defined by some measurable criteria that any independent evaluator can use to determine if a child is making Adequate Yearly Progress. For example, if an IEP goal says a child will move from a 1.3 grade equivalent to a 3.8 grade equivalent in reading decoding, as measured by the WIAT, then anyone qualified to administer the test can determine if the required improvement has taken place.

MANY, MANY, MANY schools will define a goal such as, “Johnny will improve reading decoding by 80% accuracy.” — 80% of what??  What is the baseline? What tool is being used to evaluate the child’s progress?  Having an open-ended “80%” leaves progress open to debate and it is easy for a school to claim a child has made 80% improvement.  If you disagree that your child has made adequate yearly progress, it is very difficult for you to PROVE your child didn’t make progress.  Therefore, it always pays for you to insist that your child’s IEP goals are very specific and measureable.

Classroom grades are VERY subjective.  Classroom grades, along with teacher made tests or teacher observations, are NOT adequate measures of progress.

From IDEApractices.org, the IDEA laws, Appendix A “As noted above, each annual goal must include either short-term objectives or benchmarks. The purpose of both is to enable a child’s teacher(s), parents, and others involved in developing and implementing the child’s IEP, to gauge, at intermediate times during the year, how well the child is progressing toward achievement of the annual goal. IEP teams may continue to develop short-term instructional objectives, that generally break the skills described in the annual goal down into discrete components. The revised statute and regulations also provide that, as an alternative, IEP teams may develop benchmarks, which can be thought of as describing the amount of progress the child is expected to make within specified segments of the year. Generally, benchmarks establish expected performance levels that allow for regular checks of progress that coincide with the reporting periods for informing parents of their child’s progress toward achieving the annual goals. An IEP team may use either short term objectives or benchmarks or a combination of the two depending on the nature of the annual goals and the needs of the child.”

“The IEP team’s determination of how each child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general curriculum is a primary consideration in the development of the child’s IEP. In assessing children with disabilities, school districts may use a variety of assessment techniques to determine the extent to which these children can be involved and progress in the general curriculum, such as criterion-referenced tests, standard achievement tests, diagnostic tests, other tests, or any combination of the above.”

One of the things you can do to determine if progress is being made, and how much progress, is to have testing done utilizing the same measures that were initially used to identify your child as needing services. Many standardized measures are reusable after 6 months or a year. So if your child had the WIAT, that test can be done again to see what his actual progress is. A child SHOULD make progress comparable to their overall academic aptitude… in other words, a teachable child could make MORE than one year’s progress in a year given proper instruction.

Feel free to join our group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LearningAbledKids/
and ask more questions based upon your son’s specific goals. There are things that can be done in the area of data collection from classroom papers to determine if a child has actually made progress or not. You can survey spontaneous work done at the beginning of the year as compared to work done by your child at this point in the school year, then determine if the work is better or not.

Hope this helps! It is a tough position to be in… I’ve been there!

Best Wishes,
Sandy

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