Tracking your child’s improvement against his goals involves comparing old and new documents, as well as understanding the reports you receive from the teacher and school. Here are some tips to keep organized and prepared.
1. Organize your child’s progress reports
In many states, the school district must send parents or guardians written progress reports for students with disabilities as frequently as they send the reports to caregivers of students who do not have disabilities. If you don’t recall receiving any progress reports, check your school’s handbook or call your school’s office to find out when they typically send them out. It is often once or twice a quarter. It is helpful to keep these reports in chronological order so you can flip back and forth to check progress on the specific goals written into the reports, especially those that span multiple years.
2. Request periodic work samples
To better track progress, request that your student’s teacher send work samples periodically (or perhaps with the written progress report). Work samples provide a more tangible example of what your child can do, albeit sometimes with help from a teacher or aide. Teachers often report progress based on their observations, which can be helpful but is often subjective. You can make the request for work samples in addition to written progress reports at an IEP meeting. You may also want to request more frequent progress reports, but there’s no guarantee that the school will agree to this.
3. Request a communication log
If you still feel that you don’t have a good grasp on what your student does at school, you may want to request a communication log at your next IEP meeting to maintain ongoing communication between parents and teachers. Again, there is no guarantee that the school will agree to your request, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Keep in mind that under federal law, each student with a disability is entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that includes supports and services in the least restrictive environment (LRE), which means the student is in the same classroom with his or her mainstream peers to the greatest extent possible. The student’s program doesn’t have to require utmost success; rather it must be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” In other words, your child is entitled to an appropriate education that allows her to make progress, taking into account her unique needs. This new standard from the Endrew F. case holds students with disabilities to higher standards while providing challenging content.