Is Your Child Making Progress in Special Ed?

by Wrightslaw

Is your child making acceptable progress in special ed? Is your child on track to meet the measurable annual goals in the IEP? 

Until recently, most parents and teachers could not answer that question with confidence. Reliable information about appropriate research-based programs and objective ways to measure and monitor progress were not available or not being used. Children were placed in inappropriate programs where they did not make progress.

This sorry state of affairs is changing. Schools are implementing systems that monitor student progress objectively. The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools, school districts and states to measure their progress objectively and report their progress every year. 

The U.S. Department of Education is encouraging school districts to adopt progress monitoring for all students, including students with disabilities who have IEPs.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes a statement about why special education fails to help so many kids - “implementation has been impeded by low expectations, and an insufficient focus on applying replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning for students with disabilities …”  (see Findings and Purposes) To remedy that problem, when Congress reauthorized the law in 2004, they added requirements that special education and related services provided to children be based on peer-reviewed research.

What is progress monitoring? How will progress monitoring enable you to know if your child or student is making progress toward the measurable IEP goals?

Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice used to assess a child’s academic progress and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with an individual student or an entire class of students.

The USDOE created a web site, National Center on Student Progress Monitoring, with information for parents and teachers about how to monitor progress. The teacher uses short tests to evaluate a child’s progress in specific areas. The child is tested often - every week or two. The teacher creates progress graphs that show the child’s progress toward the annual goals. Parents receive copies of progress graphs at frequent intervals - usually every few weeks. Visit the Student Progress Monitoring web site to learn more.

Info for families - Learn about progress monitoring (in family-friendly language), the benefits of implementing progress monitoring for kids, teachers and families, and how to advocate with staff at your child’s school so they implement progress monitoring.

Tools (tests) -

Free Webinar - Data Based Instruction in Special Education on Sept 25, 2008

A webinar, presented by experts Dr. Lynn Fuchs and