"My son is 8 years old and in 2nd grade. Last fall, the school evaluated him, found that he has a learning disability, and placed him in a resource class for reading.
"He isn't learning to read in the resource class. He is failing math and barely passing his other subjects. His teacher is talking about retaining him. Because he was not learning at school, I took him for an outside evaluation. The evaluator diagnosed him with dyslexia and dysgraphia.
"I made a written request for a IEP review meeting. I sent copies of this evaluation to all members of his his IEP group. What can I suggest at this meeting? The process of getting help from the school is incredibly slow. I want to be prepared so I can make good decisions for my child."
You need to thorougly understand the test results in your son's evaluations.
Next, read "Tests and Measurements for the Parent, Educator, Advocate & Attorney by Pete and Pam Wright. Use a highlighter and make margin notes. Read it again.
Look at the recommendations made by the evaluator - these recommendations should describe the educational program and services he needs.
Present Levels of Academic Achievement in the IEP
child's IEP is based on evaluations. The evaluation you had done includes
the most current information about your son's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.
Your son is eight, almost nine years old. He does not have any more time to waste. Your goals are:
Your son hasn't learned to read. He doesn't have any more time to waste. Ask your evaluator to recommend an academic therapist or reading tutor who can begin working with him right away.
Children with learning disabilities who receive adequate reading instruction at an early age become fluent readers. Children who do not get adequate reading instruction at an early age do not become fluent readers. Read this article about dyslexia.
Say "No" to Retention
Prepare for the IEP Meeting
meetings are stressful. Consider hiring an advocate to help you negotiate
a good IEP for your child.
If you have Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, read the chapters about organizing the child's file, evaluations, tests and measurements (2 chapters), SMART IEPs, letter-writing (2 chapters), and preparing for school meetings (2 chapters). Be sure to read the sample letters at the end of the letter writing chapters - they will help you think about how to frame your child's problems.
need to become an expert in these areas. While this feels overwhelming
now, you can do it if you take it one step at a time, one day at a
for Your Child - Getting Started - Good
special education services are intensive and expensive. Resources
are limited. If you have a child with special needs, you may wind
up battling the school district for the services your child needs.
To prevail, you need information, skills, and tools.
Evaluations & Measuring Progress
"What You Should Know About Evaluations" - Parent attorney Bob Crabtree writes, "As a parent, you must make sure that all areas of possible need are assessed as quickly as possible. While some parents would rather not allow their school system to evaluate their child, a refusal to cooperate at this stage of the process can backfire . . . "
and Measurements for the Parent, Teacher, Advocate & Attorney
by Pete and Pam Wright. To successfully negotiate for special
ed services that provide educational benefit, you need to know how
to interpret test scores - standard scores, percentile ranks, subtest
scores, and age and grade equivalents.
Learn more about Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
Dyslexia / Language Learning Disabilities
Learning to Read
to Catch Children Before they Fail at Reading
Research-Based Reading Programs
less than 35 percent of fourth graders are proficient readers, No
Child Left Behind requires schools to use research-based reading programs.
Reading Panel Reports Combination of Teaching Phonics, Word Sounds,
Giving Feedback on Oral Reading Most Effective Way to Teach Reading
(NIH News Alert, April 13, 2000)
Learn more about research-based reading programs from the New Hampshire Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.
Retention - Achievement and Mental Health Outcomes - (National
of School Psychologists) 6th grade students rated grade retention
as the single most stressful life event. Retained students are less
likely to receive a high school diploma, receive poorer educational
competence ratings, and are less likely to attend any educational
program after high school. Retained students receive lower educational
and employment ratings and are paid less per hour.
Two Wrong Solutions (American Federation of Teachers) - "Social promotion and grade retention are mechanical responses to an educational problem. The scandal is how little attention they give to preventing failure in the first place."
Find an Advocate
Meet Sue Whitney
In Doing Your Homework, she
writes about reading, research based instruction, No Child Left Behind, and
strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for
and to improve public schools. Her articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys. Sue Whitney's bio.
Copyright © 2002-2012 by Suzanne Whitney.