Now that school has been underway for roughly seven or eight weeks in Louisiana, a parent of a child with an exceptionality receiving services in school may wonder how his/her child is progressing. For students with disabilities who have an IEP (Individual Education Plan), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA 2004) specifies that the IEP must indicate how progress toward meeting goals will be measured and how often reports will be provided to the parent or student of age of majority.
In IDEA’s exact words, a child’s IEP must contain:
(3) A description of—
(i) How the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals described in paragraph (2) of this section will be measured; and
(ii) When periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided…[§300.320(a)(3)]
How a child’s progress toward meeting annual goals will be measured is identified in the goal section of the IEP. In Louisiana, the Method of Measurement indicates what instrument or instruments will be used as the data collecting tool. Although IDEA does not specify what tools must be used to measure progress, there are many choices that teachers and parents can consider to demonstrate if growth has occurred. Some common examples could include charting, logs, tallies, teacher-made assessments, homework assignments, checklists, rubrics, benchmarks, progress monitoring data and work samples. Examples such as observation, report cards or statewide assessment results should be considered with caution. Observation alone is very subjective and may not provide sufficient data, unless it is written to include clear language that can be used to indicate a standard of measure. Report cards and statewide assessments apply to standards all children should meet and neither of these represents a measure of a unique need or skill the student must address. As a valuable participant in an IEP meeting, a parent has every right to discuss and inquire about how their child’s progress will be measured and to ask to see examples to determine if the method of measurement is appropriate to the child’s need and goal.
The IEP must also contain a description of when periodic reports on the progress (….concurrent with the issuance of report cards)will be provided. In Louisiana, elementary grading periods occur every 9 weeks. Middle and high school grades are issued at semester, but interim grading periods occur every 6 weeks in each semester. Parents of students addressing IEP goals should be receiving progress reports at these grading periods with useful information about the progress their child is making. If progress is not occurring, it is incumbent that IEP committee determine why there is a lack of progress and take some corrective action.
For a student who reaches the age of majority in Louisiana, age 18, and whose decision-making authority has not been legally transferred through either interdiction, limited interdiction or continuing tutorship, the right to receive periodic reports of progress promotes ownership and independence in the student in making decisions regarding his/her education. Training in understanding the use of the information provided should begin long before the student reaches the age of majority.
Louisiana Bulletin 1530 uses the most specific language about student performance and progress in Chapter 7, Extended School Year Services. While this information is used to determine eligibility or ineligibility for these ESY services, the language refers to the collection of documentation throughout the school year to determine progress toward goals.
D. Ongoing student performance assessment is always an integral part of any educational program, and it should be documented on appropriate data collection forms (e.g., grade book, checklist, task analysis form) and progress reports.
A.The IEP Team is responsible for developing the extended school year services for the student. The IEP Team shall consider the student's educational needs according to the criterion/criteria by which that student qualified for ESY services. Throughout the planning phase, the team is involved in a very individualized decision-making process based on the student's specific needs identified throughout the regular school year data collection.
Receiving periodic reports of progress which provide useful information regarding the measurement of progress your child is making toward his/her IEP goals is your right and allows you to be an active participant in your child’s education by engaging in making adjustments as needed. If you do not receive these reports, ask for them!