Can I Insist on an Evidenced-Based Reading Program?

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Boy reading at schoolI have a quick reading question.

My 5 year old has Down syndrome.  I’ve read the research about an evidenced-based intervention program designed to teach reading and language skills to children with DS. I think it is the very best approach to teaching him to read.

How can I insist the school use this program? They are not using a research-based program now.

There are no “quick reading questions.”

Schools are notorious for their unwillingness to grant requests from parents. They don’t want to establish a precedent.

Appropriate – Not Best

You need to eliminate the word “best” from your vocabulary.

Your child is not entitled to the best education or the very best education. He is not entitled to an education that maximizes his potential.

He is entitled to an appropriate education. Nothing more.

Keep that in mind when you make requests. Appropriate. Not best.

In most cases, we recommend that the parent get an evaluation of the child by an expert in the private sector.

The expert can:

  • explain his/her findings to your child’s team
  • describe what your child needs in a special education program
  • discuss what will happen if the school refuses to provide this program

For example, if the school refuses to provide the services that your child needs, your child may be damaged, perhaps permanently.

Negotiating with the School

You should expect the school district to object to any program you recommend or insist upon. If they object or refuse, expect them to dig in and defend their position. They do not want to lose face.

You must negotiate with the school on this issue.

1. You need to find out who has the decision-making power in your school district.

2. You need an expert who has evaluated your child and is willing to speak to the school about your child’s unique needs.

3. Your expert will need objective data to support this position.

IDEA Requirement for Peer-Reviewed Research

In many cases, schools do not have teachers who are adequately trained to implement these programs.

Often the school is not withholding a good program. The school does not have a good program that can be implemented by well-trained staff.

By including frequent references to the need to use scientific, research based instruction and interventions, Congress clarified that methodology is vitally important. Your child’s IEP should include “a statement of special education, related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer reviewed research …”

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition20 U.S.C.  Section 1414(d)(1)(A), page  99

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

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  1. I was a general ed teacher, then a reading teacher, and now a special ed teacher. I have a grandson with severe needs (CP). If I might give you my opinion. The evidenced based reading program was probably not tested on your child. So it may or may not work for him/her. Insist on a specialist. A good reading teacher will make any program work. A great reading teacher will individualize and make up their own program. Get somebody with Orton-Gillingham training or Linda Mood-Bell Training. I have both and I haven’t seen a curriculum yet that lives up to it’s evidenced-based billing. Nothing works for every child.

  2. Wrightslaw always has great articles with excellent recommendations. In our monthly e- newsletter there is almost always a wrightslaw article that we share with our readers.

    Thanks for all the work that you do.
    Lizabeth Pardo
    Metropolitan Parent Center, a PTIC

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