Aug 022013

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Q: I need information on adequate yearly progress (AYP). My child’s teacher is giving my son good grades, but I am not seeing the progress. I don’t think he’s making AYP. What can I do?


A child must make “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) as defined by the child’s IEP.

IEP Goals and AYP

This is why writing specific, measureable goals is critical for determining your child’s progress.

If your child’s goals are not clearly defined, the school can say your child is making progress using opinions rather than on objective data. IDEA requires that goals be specific and measurable. However, IEP goals are often not specific enough to track AYP in a meaningful way.

Good goals should be defined by some measurable criteria. Any independent evaluator should be able to use the goals to determine if your child is making AYP.

For example, an IEP goal could say a child will move from a 1.3 grade equivalent to a 3.8 grade equivalent in reading decoding, as measured by the WIAT. With that goal, anyone qualified to administer the WIAT test can determine if your child has made AYP.

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 to see if the child has made AYP? 

Having an open-ended “80%” measurement leaves AYP open to debate. 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 AYP.  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. They are subjective in measure and not suitable for determining AYP.

IDEA Special Education Law and Goals for AYP

IEP goals and AYP

From, 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 your child’s education to gauge how well your child is progressing toward AYP. 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.”

A Strategy for Tracking AYP YOURSELF!

One of the things you can do to determine if AYP is being made, and how much progress, is to have testing done. You can have a private evaluator use the same standardized testing that was 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.

Why would YOU take your child to an independent evaluator? Because schools have been known to cheat on a child’s testing. There have been plenty of court cases about schools cheating. For kids with disabilities, who are covered under No Child Left Behind funding incentives, there is an incentive for schools to make kids look like they’re making AYP.

I’ve known more than one case where private testing showed the child had actually made very LITTLE progress at all. A couple of times, a child has actually regressed. In each of those cases, the parents suspected their child hadn’t made the progress the school said was made. So, it wasn’t really a surprise

Therefore, if your gut instinct is telling you your child is NOT making AYP, you’d be wise to seek independent verification of progress (or lack of progress).

How Much Progress is AYP?

Also your child SHOULD make progress comparable to his or her overall academic aptitude. In other words, a teachable child can make MORE than one year’s progress in a year if he receives proper instruction.

Remember, kids with learning disabilities CAN LEARN. That is part of the criteria for being identified as having a learning disability.

There are things that can be done in the area of data collection from classroom papers to determine if your child has actually made AYP 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.

So your child should make at least one year of progress for each school year. Otherwise, your child will be falling further behind for the year and won’t make AYP. If that happens over time, your child can fall further and further behind his peers.

Therefore, you don’t want to be slack in monitoring your child’s actual progress from one year to the next. Chart his test scores each year. Look at the IEP goals before your IEP meeting. Determine for yourself if you believe your child really made AYP. It’s important to track AYP for the sake of your child’s future!

If you would like support, feel free to join one of our groups on Yahoo at: or on Facebook at
You can ask more questions based upon your son’s specific goals within the group.

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

Best Wishes,

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