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The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
February 27, 2003


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Issue - 200

ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue

My Child's IQ Dropped 21 Points in 2 Years - What Should I Do?

Facts About Teacher Quality: Are We Destroying The Future - One Child At A Time?

Parent's Rights To Know Qualifications of Child's Teachers

How To Request Info About Your Child's Teachers

Sample Letters To The School

Paper Trails & Letter Writing

Wrightslaw Coming To Florida, Illinois & New Jersey

Rehabilitating Section 504

Subscription & Contact Info.


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In this issue of The Special Ed Advocate, we learn about IQ scores and the Matthew Effect; teacher quality and NCLB; parents' right to know qualifications of child's teachers; sample letters; letter writing and paper trails; training in Illinois and NJ; and a new report about "Rehabilitating Section 504."

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1. My Child's IQ Dropped 21 Points in 2 Years - School Says "Not Usual" - True?

I have a question about a problem described in your book, "From Emotions to Advocacy - The Special Ed Survival Guide."

In the chapter, "Crisis! Emergency! Help!" you describe several situations that cause a parent to contact an attorney including, "The school says that they have realized that the child's true problem is that the child is not learning disabled but is instead mentally retarded, so the child's placement and program needs to be changed or eliminated altogether."

This happened to us. My daughter's IQ dropped 21 points in 2 years. The school claims this is "not unusual" and that at age 8, she has reached her "highest expected level of performance."

Is this true?

What do you think? Is it normal for IQ scores to fall more than 20 points in two years? Do children reach their "highest expected level of performance" at age 8?

What should this parent do? Read our answer in My Child's IQ Dropped - What Should I Do?



2. Facts About Teacher Quality: Are We Destroying The Future - One Child At A Time?

In June, Secretary of Education Rod Paige issued a call for action and challenged states to raise standards for teachers and lower barriers that keep qualified individuals from entering teaching careers.

According to Dr. Paige, "The National report cards in recent years show we are destroying that future-one child at a time." In support of this statement, he offered these shocking facts:

  • Two out of three 4th graders cannot read proficiently.
  • Seven out of 10 inner city and rural 4th graders cannot read at the most basic level.
  • One-third of college freshmen need remedial classes before they can handle entry-level courses.
  • American 12th graders rank among the lowest in math and science of all industrialized nations.

The No Child Left behind Act calls for highly qualified teachers - teachers who demonstrate subject knowledge and skills in reading, writing, mathematics and other basic subject areas - to be in place in every classroom by the end of the 2005-06 school year. Facts About Good Teachers

To learn more about teacher quality issues, download "Improving Teacher Quality State Grants (Non-Regulatory Draft Guidance)" from the U. S. Department of Education.


3. Parent's Rights To Know Qualifications of Child's Teachers

Did you know you have a right to know the qualifications of your child's teachers and paraprofessionals? Under the No Child Left behind Act, your school district must advise you of your right to information about the qualifications of your child's teachers and paraprofessionals.

Is a substitute teacher teaching your child? If an unqualified person teaches your child for four consecutive weeks, your school district must notify you. This requirement applies to substitute teachers, many of whom do not meet "highly qualified" requirements. [Source: NCLB, Title I, Section 1111(h)(6)]

Learn about the parents' right to know qualifications of child's teachers.


4. How To Request Info About Your Child's Teachers

Do you want to learn the qualifications of your child's teachers and paraprofessionals? If the answer is "yes", you need to write a letter to request this information from the school.

Since many people lack confidence in their ability to write letters, we wrote a sample letter that you can use as a template. Just change the identifying information - your name, address and phone number, your child's name, school, and principal.

Download the request for teacher qualifications letter" in pdf for easy printing and distribution to others.

You can also get the request for teacher qualifications letter as a Word document.

In support of your request, we suggest that you print the No Child Left Behind Newsletter (February 1, 2003) and include a copy of the newsletter with your letter.


5. Sample Letters To The School

You use letters to build relationships, identify and solve problems, clarify decisions that were made and not made, and motivate people to take action. Learn more about letter writing.

If you have a copy of Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, turn to page 331. You will find more than a dozen letters that you can tailor to your circumstances:

  • Request your child's file
  • Request a meeting with the school team
  • Document a discipline problem
  • Express appreciation
  • Document an IEP problem
  • Decline a request / reschedule a meeting
  • Request a meeting with a teacher
  • Request a review of your child's educational records
  • Request an evaluation for special education services
  • Request test scores as standard scores & percentile ranks
  • Follow-up letter after IEP meeting to document unresolved issues / requests
  • Ten-day letter to withdraw child from public school

Toll-free Phone & Fax Orders


6. Paper Trails & Letter Writing

Train yourself to write things down - this will help you protect your child's interests. If you have a dispute with the school, letters independent evidence that support your memory. Documents that support your position help you resolve disputes early.

When you write a letter, think about what you want your letter to accomplish. Edit letters they make a good impression. When you write a letter, think about the powerful decision-making Stranger who can make things right.

These articles will help you write effective letters.

The Art of Writing Letters

In The Art of Writing Letters, you learn to use tactics and strategies when you write letters to the school. You learn about the Blame Approach and the Story-Telling Approach; the sympathy factor; first impressions; pitfalls; and the powerful decision-making Stranger.

Using Storytelling to Persuade

See how one father used the story-telling approach of letter writing when he asked the school district to help his son. Do you see Joe through his father's eyes? Do you understand why the parents removed Joe from the public school program? What should be done to help Joe?

12 Rules for Writing Great Letters

If you have a problem with the school or concerns about your child's program, you must document your concerns in writing. This article includes 12 Rules for Writing Letters, and editing tips.


7. Wrightslaw Coming To Florida, Illinois & New Jersey

Knowledge is power. When you have information and skills, you will be a more effective advocate for your child. Our role is to help you gain knowledge so you can negotiate with the school on your child's behalf.

Over the next few weeks, we are scheduled to do programs in Orlando, FL, Bloomington / Normal IL, and Iselin, NJ.

March 13-16: Annual COPAA Conference, Orlando, FL

March 21-22: Bloomington / Normal, IL

April 6, 2003: Iselin, NJ

For more information about these events and other programs that will be held over the next few months, please check our Seminars & Training page.

If you are interested in learning how to bring Pete & Pam to your community, please read our FAQs about Seminars.


8. Rehabilitation Section 504

In February 2003, the National Council on Disability published a new report about shortcomings that have hindered compliance and enforcement of Section 504, and recommend strategies to resolve these problems.

Strategies include:

  • Periodic and thorough Section 504 self-evaluations
  • Improved data collection and dissemination of data about Section 504 enforcement
  • Increased resources and guidance to federal agencies on Section 504 enforcement
  • Application of successful practices in Section 504 technical assistance and enforcement.

9. Subscribe & Contact Info.

The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.

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Contact Information

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: http://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: newsletters@wrightslaw.com

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Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
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Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
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Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
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Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
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