It’s summer – finally! The stress of driving the kids to school, preparing their lunches, helping them with homework, and getting them out of bed in the morning is behind you, at least for this year. Summer is a great time to get organized, analyze your child’s progress and develop a plan for the upcoming school year.
First, gather all your child’s educational records such as:
- prior written notices (PR-01)
- progress reports
- report cards
- standardized test results
- work samples
- behavioral assessments (FBA’s)
- behavior plans (BIP)
Now grab a 3-ring binder and organize! You can put it in date order, giving every document a separate tab, or you can organize it by year or by document type. Do what makes sense for you so you can find things easily.
Next, analyze the data. This step is the most critical one: read through all the documents and see if your child has made progress on his/her goals. Review IEP progress reports and see if those percentages or successful trials are increasing from quarter to quarter. Are the goals met by the end of the IEP? Look at the last few IEPs and see if the goals are progressively more demanding each year. If you see the same goal on the last three IEPs, that’s a red flag. Look at results from your district’s standardized tests (MAP scores, for example) or yearly state testing. Check the percentile rank and see if your child is remaining consistent or improving with his/her peers from year to year. Read the future planning statements and see if your child is moving in the right direction toward those short-term and long-term goals. As you analyze the data jot down some notes or questions you have and put it in a “notes” section in your binder. Your notes should include a bullet-point list of your concerns, along with any data to support it.
Finally, develop a plan. Rely on those notes you took to develop your plan for next year. If it looks like your child is on the right track, stay the course! If you’re noticing a lack of progress, something needs to change. You will need an IEP team meeting to discuss the lack of progress and explore different options. In this COVID-era, you may have new concerns about areas that weren’t addressed in the IEP/ETR like social skills, anxiety, or assistive technology. Request that IEP team meeting to talk about these things and make changes to the IEP if necessary.
Being the mom of a student with special needs requires strong management and advocacy skills. You need to know your data, work with the team to set ambitious goals, and hold everyone accountable for achieving those goals. So, sit down, grab a cold beverage, analyze the data, and start planning. When August rolls around, you’ll be empowered and ready to go!