Believe it or not, you should be getting notes home regarding setting up parent teacher conferences for your children any day now. This means that report card time is also quickly approaching. For parents of children with special needs, who have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), you should also be receiving progress reports for your child shortly.
Here are some important things you should know about progress reports and IEPs.
How often must progress be reported?
Progress should be reported at least as often as parents of general education students are informed of their child’s progress. Thus, for example, if your school district provides two report cards per year, there should be two progress reports for your child with special needs. If the frequency that the general education students receive progress is not sufficient for your child with special needs, the IEP could also indicate frequency of reporting, for example, as:
- at the end of each term, or
- at three month intervals.
What is the purpose of reporting progress to parents?
Regular reports to parents provide a mechanism to monitor a student’s progress toward the annual goals and to evaluate the effectiveness of the student’s special education services. If progress is such that, the student is not expected to reach his or her annual goals, the Committee on Special Education (“CSE”) must review and revise the student’s IEP to ensure that the student is being provided the appropriate supports and services.
What must parents keep in mind?
It is extremely important that parents pay attention to these progress reports. If you see that certain goals have not been started or that your child is not progressing satisfactorily, it may be time to change those goals. Conversely, if your child is achieving all of their goals, this may be an indicator that the goals were set too low.
The time of the first progress report is a perfect opportunity to discuss the goals and discuss changes to goals that would be more appropriate and meaningful for your child. This does not have to be done at a full CSE meeting. It can be done at a team meeting where goals can be discussed since goals can be changed on consent without a full CSE meeting.
While all progress reports are important and need to read by parents, the first progress report is especially important. The first weeks of school give the teachers and other professionals that work with your child an opportunity to get to know your child and his or her unique learning style. Remember, goals were set at a meeting that occurred the previous spring and may not accurately reflect your child’s present level of performance.
The time of the first progress report is the perfect opportunity to review and discuss whether your child’s program is appropriate. Unfortunately, much too many times, parents wait until the yearly CSE meeting to discuss goals that were inappropriate. If this is done, valuable time will have been wasted when problems with a child’s program could have been fixed early in year allowing for a more productive and meaningful school year.
Sheryl Frishman is a co-host of the Family Network TV show “It’s a Matter of Law”, a show that covers all legal aspects of having a child with special needs. Sheryl is the mother of three children, one of whom has Autism.
Sheryl is of Counsel to the law firm of Littman Krooks LLP. Prior to joining Littman Krooks, Sheryl was a partner in the law offices of Frishman & Faber, P.C. a practice devoted entirely to the advocacy and life planning needs of children and adults with disabilities and their families.
Nothing in this blog post should be construed as legal advice. Please consult with your own attorney before relying on the information contained herein. For assistance with questions regarding your child’s special needs, visit our website at http://www.specialneedsnewyork.com/.