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Kate:  My 6th grade son has had a 504 plan (ADHD) since 3rd. His std test scores generally show results in average/low average ability. His actual grades are another story – consistently Ds and Fs in reading, language arts, math, and science.

Currently being evaluated for SLD and OHI and unofficial feedback from school admin is that he is testing “fine” because all of his scores are in the average range. He made it to 6th by the skin of his teeth after all Ds and Fs in 5th. I am worried he will not get the help he needs.

For purposes of the evaluation, how much weight is given to actual grades when standardized test scores are within average range but the student cannot pass his classes?

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01/12/2016 5:36 pm

A special education lawyer in my town remarked to me a few years ago, “I have seen 504 plans that were a mile long, packed with specific accommodations and other supports.” Since then, I have felt well within my rights to ask for every single accommodation I can think of that will help my child. Take a look at this list: http://teacherweb.com/NY/ValleyStream13/howellroadpbis/CatalogOfAccomidations.pdf and see which of those you think would help your child. You may request a 504 meeting at any time. Try to find an ally in the school who will help you get the 504 to approve your proposals (which you should, of course, share with the committee members ahead of time). Good luck!

Jill G
01/12/2016 5:35 pm

I would caution against requesting every accommodation available or advocating for services/supports beyond what is necessary – for both practical and relationship reasons.

While teachers are obliged to follow a written 504 plan, overloading it with too many accommodation means that teachers may have trouble implementing it. If teachers have trouble implementing it, the school is likely to revise it.

And 504 plans can be changed without parent input or permission. Parents permission is needed for evaluation, but little else (and even that can be overridden). If a parent is making what the school seems as an unreasonable amount of requests, they’re likely to simply shut parents out of the process.

Jill G
01/12/2016 5:35 pm

Kate –

There’s no rule regarding what parts of the evaluation should be given more weight. One would hope that the school would look at the whole picture, but that may not be the case.

I encourage you to focus on what you can do. You say he’s currently being evaluated, I’m assuming that’s for special education eligibility. Once the testing is complete, an eligibility meeting will be held.

As the results of the evaluations are reviewed, ask about his school performance. Why do they think he’s failing? What do the evaluations say about that? If you don’t think the evaluation got at the heart of the problem, ask for more testing.

Jill G
01/12/2016 5:34 pm

If your son’s found eligible for special education, advocate for the IEP to address the reasons for his poor grades. What services and supports will they provide to help him work to his potential?

If he’s found ineligible, you can disagree with this finding. Again you can ask for the school to complete more testing. You also have the right to request an independent evaluation at public expense.

Often when kids are found ineligible for special education, they are offered a 504 Plan. You son already has one, so why not use the evaluation data to update the plan (while waiting for more school testing or the independent evaluation). Again, ask what services and supports will they provide to help him work to his potential?