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Doing Your Homework:
Reading & IEP Problems

by Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

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My child has Down Syndrome. I have questions about reading programs and his IEP.

His school offers a reading program called "Reading Recovery." When I asked that my child receive Reading Recovery, the school said he could not have this program because Reading Recovery is for first graders.

They said if a child has an IEP, the child is not eligible for Reading Recovery because they receive
federal funding of Reading Recovery in "Title I" money.

I don't know why a child with an IEP can't have Reading Recovery.

Second, I have not signed an IEP for the coming year. The IEP team said they would look into the questions I had. They said I would receive an updated revised IEP to sign. Several weeks have passed and I have not received the IEP.

How much longer should I wait before I contact the school and ask for answers to my questions and the IEP?

From Sue

Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery is designed for first graders. There is nothing about having a disability, or an IEP, that makes a child ineligible for any public school program, including a Title I program. (for more on this subject, read Teaching a Child to Read: Special Ed or Reading First)

However, many respected reading experts have expressed serious concerns about the effectiveness of Reading Recovery. (See links to articles about Reading Recovery below)

Unless you have an independent evaluation that tells you that Reading Recovery is appropriate for your child, do not invest time and energy into this program just because it is available, or just to see if it will work.

Your Child's IEP

Do not ask the school for a copy of your child's IEP again. By law, you are an equal member of the team that creates your child's IEP.

Let the school forget about you for a while longer, until you have a good long-term plan in place.

Get a Comprehensive Evaluation

You need to get a complete psychoeducational evaluation on your child by an evaluator in the private sector. The evaluator's report will provide his present levels of educational performance in all relevant educational areas and will also recommend instructional methods that should be used with your son so he will learn to read.

Request an IEP Meeting

Once you have your evaluation in hand, send a letter to the principal or special education director. Ask for an IEP meeting to write an IEP based upon the most recent information from testing - your evaluation.

Long-term Planning

You need to learn about advocacy, evaluations, IEPs, reading, and research-based reading instruction. This will prepare you for the next IEP meeting - and for the next twelve years as project manager of your son's education.

Learn about Evaluations

How to Find an Evaluator

You need to learn how to measure your child's progress. Is he making acceptable progress? Or, is he falling further and further behind? Read and reread Tests and Measurements for the Parent, Teacher, Advocate and Attorney.

Learn about Advocacy & Advocacy Strategies

Learn about IEPs

Learn about Research-Based Instruction

Reading Recovery

According to many reading experts and specialists, Reading Recovery is not successful with its targeted student population, the lowest performing first grade students.

Reading Recovery: Myths and Reality

Reading Recovery: An Evaluation of Benefits and Costs (Grossen, Coulter, Ruggles)

Evidence-Based Research on Reading Recovery

Read one parent's letter to an Ohio school district about the inappropriate use of Reading Recovery with his dyslexic son.

Research-Based Reading Programs

The school needs to use a research-based reading program to teach your child to read. Read Getting Help for Children Who Have Reading Problems.

Contact your state or local Branch of the International Dyslexia Association for referrals to tutors for all types of reading difficulties.

State Academic Standards

Get a copy of your state's curriculum standards from your state department of education website. (Your state may refer to this as "academic standards," "grade-level expectations" or "curriculum frameworks"). Print the academic standards for the grade your child will attend next year. This is the "general curriculum" that your child should be involved in.

Read Your Child's IEP: Progress in the General Curriculum.

Working with an Advocate

If the relationship between you and school personnel is strained, it may be a good idea to work with an advocate. Ask other parents about their recommendations. These Internet sites list advocates:

Education-a-Must: Directory of Advocates

Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities

Good luck!

To Top

Revised: 04/06/10


Meet Sue Whitney

Sue Whitney of Merrimack, New Hampshire, is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that is published by Harbor House Law Press.

In Doing Your Homework, she writes about reading, research based instruction, No Child Left Behind, and creative strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for children 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.

Sue has served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC) and has been a volunteer educational surrogate parent. She currently works with families as a special education advocate.


Copyright © 2002-2014 by Suzanne Whitney.

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