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Is Your Child Making Progress in Special Ed?

by Wrightslaw

Is your child making acceptable progress in special ed? Is your child on track to meet the measurable annual goals in the IEP? 

Until recently, most parents and teachers could not answer that question with confidence. Reliable information about appropriate research-based programs and objective ways to measure and monitor progress were not available or not being used. Children were placed in inappropriate programs where they did not make progress.

This sorry state of affairs is changing. Schools are implementing systems that monitor student progress objectively. The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools, school districts and states to measure their progress objectively and report their progress every year. 

The U.S. Department of Education is encouraging school districts to adopt progress monitoring for all students, including students with disabilities who have IEPs.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes a statement about why special education fails to help so many kids – “implementation has been impeded by low expectations, and an insufficient focus on applying replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning for students with disabilities …”  (see Findings and Purposes) To remedy that problem, when Congress reauthorized the law in 2004, they added requirements that special education and related services provided to children be based on peer-reviewed research.

What is progress monitoring? How will progress monitoring enable you to know if your child or student is making progress toward the measurable IEP goals?

Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice used to assess a child’s academic progress and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with an individual student or an entire class of students.

The USDOE created a web site, National Center on Student Progress Monitoring, with information for parents and teachers about how to monitor progress. The teacher uses short tests to evaluate a child’s progress in specific areas. The child is tested often – every week or two. The teacher creates progress graphs that show the child’s progress toward the annual goals. Parents receive copies of progress graphs at frequent intervals – usually every few weeks. Visit the Student Progress Monitoring web site to learn more.

Info for families – Learn about progress monitoring (in family-friendly language), the benefits of implementing progress monitoring for kids, teachers and families, and how to advocate with staff at your child’s school so they implement progress monitoring.

Tools (tests)

Free Webinar – Data Based Instruction in Special Education on Sept 25, 2008

A webinar, presented by experts Dr. Lynn Fuchs and Dr. Doug Fuchs on September 25,2008 from 2:00 to 3:30pm ET, will focus on using progress monitoring data to individualize and monitor the effectiveness of instruction in special education. Details soon. See this page for earlier webinars:

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23 Comments on "Is Your Child Making Progress in Special Ed?"

Sharon L.

Jackie, Typically the school does not diagnose dyslexia. That normally comes from a physician. We got a diagnoses from a physician from our doctor. Once you get this done your doctor can send confirmation that your son is dyslexic. This should go a long way to getting accommodations. You can also request a reading and writing evaluation from the school. REquest it is writing & sign their consent form. Once you get the evaluation have your physician help you understand the results. You do not have to sign anything you do not agree with. You can request an outside professional evaluation done at the school’s expense if you do not agree with their evaluation. The school must consider the results of the outside eval but do not have to do what it says however usually they do. This should help you get more for your child.


My son does have an IEP however they are refusing to acknowledge my son’s Dyslexia. He has made no progress since he received his IEP one year ago. I have made suggestions to the special ed teacher and my sons teacher regarding his Dyslexia and the response I received is they were not sure how to help him. I want to go to formal mediation and want to know what can I get them to do to address my sons disabilities properly? Also the OT at the school just plays battleship and trouble with him this is not helping him with his disabilities and I believe a complete waste of time. I feel as though they are just pushing my son through and not implementing his accomedation that would help him acheive his goals. What can I now ask for?


In response to Sharon… Autism and apraxia are very different disorders and SHOULD NOT both be treated using ABA methodology. A NJ court recently found that a child with apraxia regressed when placed in an ABA program and that it was neither for appropriate nor designed to address his disability


I did not think the school was teaching my child right even though he is on an IEP. I took him to Children’s and had him tested. They said from the testing the school had done from the previous year til now there was no change. He would need a multi-sensory teacher. How do I go about getting that?


Q’s. I assist in Sped in the public schools with eval. We have limited “official” or standardized assessment so can not formally “diagnose” Autism. However, we wish to provide services for the children who appear to have autistic characteristics and meet the other criteria for placement. Since the diagnosis however (this is just like ADHD?) is the ‘disability’ qualifying component, do parent or us have to insist on getting the formal clinical diagnosis? And, if so, the problem is that we have parents that just do not bring children to clinicians- So do we have to have this formal clinical diagnosis of disability to place the children. We do not initiate due process unless in extreme unsafe emergencies against parents. So would these students not qualify because they don’t have a formal diagnosis in file?