How to measure progress and other IEP topics

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by pepperidge, May 19, 2008.

  1. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member


    I have two IEP meetings next week. I am concerned about getting measurable goals (thank you Martie and Sheila). My oldest struggles in writing and math, while my youngest has issues with reading comprehension (didn't meet state testing expectations, among other things), writing and math (just about everything). I would like them them to test achievement levels after, what, say, 3 months using some nationally normed test. (would w-J be appropriate?) what if they say they can't test that often because it will skew the test?

    I am trying to get both of my kids put in study hall class to get their homework done--which the school will be quite willing to do-- but I have serious reservations about whether the kind of aid and supervision they get will be adequate. My youngest in particular seems to need a lot of one on one supervision to get anything done.

    Also my oldest son's depression and anxiety has lessened a fair amount (thanks to medication). He is now in 7th grade. His learning disabilities are therefore more evident (trouble copying, major issues with spelling, handwriting, learning math facts). He has what seems to me to be dyslexic characteristics, though he seems to read at grade level with good comprehension. He was last tested in 2nd grade by neuropsychologist, who didn't say anything specific about dyslexia. I think since then he has had one round of achievement testing only. I am wondering if he should have the full round of neuropsychologist testing again or whether it will just say what we already know. Even if he has these problems, if there aren't specific interventions for them, then I am not sure what good it will do. The school district doesn't have any difficulty qualifying him. In fact they are quite willing to grant all sorts of modifications and accommodations (based in part because our goal has been to get him to attend school full-time, which we finally achieved this year) to the point that I am worried because I think he may be headed towards a modified diploma in HS which I would like to avoid. They are quite willing to do whatever doesn't cost them new $$, lol.

    Finally, is it only my school district that doesn't believe in dyslexia? Special Education person (who I thought was quite knowledgeable) told another mom with a severely dyslexic kid that dyslexia is a private psychologist label. Its actually listed as a Learning Disability (LD) in IDEA regs from what I have found. Have you ever heard of this? Is there a good rebuttal?

    Anywhere, sorry for the laundry list of concerns but I really want to make sure I am not missing something here.
  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Regarding Dyslexia, as you know, it's a reading disability. It would be classified as a Specific Learning Disability. Your sp ed director is aware of it.

    From :

    Sec. 602(30)(B) Disorders included.--Such term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. 29.8%
    Sec. 300.8(c)(10) Specific learning disability. (i) General. Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.Just yesterday, I told the school district, "I don't care if you want to label it "pumpkin," so long as difficult child gets what he needs.

    I've heard it argued that tests such as WJIII can't be administered regularly, but I'll let Martie address that issue.

    Our district does benchmarks a couple of times a year as a matter of practice. (Parents have to ask for the results.)

    Have you read IEP goals and objectives at wrightslaw?
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Hi P,

    In terms of the study hall class to get their homework done, it sounds as if your kids need what our county (which I know you know well) calls a "resource class," which teaches study skills in addition to working on homework. Does your school district have anything like that?

    In terms of dyslexia, I'm going to quote from an email I received from a friend about testing and coding for dyslexia (which I happened to ask her about a couple of years ago). I hope it's accurate and I hope it answers your questions.

    From my friend:

    "First of all dyslexia (Specific Reading Disability) is universally agreed now to be a language learning disability (read Shaywitz’s book). It is best diagnosed by a team that includes speech/language testing and educational testing. However, it often co-exists with executive functioning issues. For that element, the team needs to include psychological testing with a psychologist conversant with language issues . . . It also often co-exists with other language disorders (receptive/expressive) and central auditory processing disorder (Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)), and that is worked up in a S/L location.
    What our school district does for coding, however, is put everything relating to dyslexia in the hands of the team Resource (educator) with respect to the reading disability), and only Educational Assessments are used to make the diagnostic coding, although the coding is the fruit of a team meeting relying on the Educator’s recommendation (that’s your school Resource). When private testing is submitted, it is parceled out to whomever the counterpart is, the S/L, the Resource, or the school psychologist to "process," which takes them about a month, so they want private testing about 45 days before an IEP meeting.

    Ideally, if you have an IEP, in a Periodic IEP Review meeting, tell them you are getting testing, and ask them if there’s anything they want included to head off problems. Then they’ll likely do less rebuttal testing and adopt more of your report. Parents of dyslexics at the el ed level I know have found when they submit S/L testing, the school S/L does little benign tests (like The Listening Test), says your child can obey simple directions, and refuses services. The psychologist hopefully will be kept sidelined by the principal and Resource if they’re not very good, and you won’t accrue ED or Other Health Impaired labels. The Educator will do some ed testing and the code is up to him/her on reading.

    So, I learned early on all the S/L testing in the world citing a specific reading disability did not dictate the code for our school district (although it made the case to our Resource to use the code). Recently at our IEP triennial planning meeting (to plan testing) the middle school’s psychologist asked me why with all this testing in file dictating the need for S/L therapy for reading did my son never receive it in our school district? I replied I tried, but it was how our school district was organized to deliver services for dyslexics, and I understood reading instruction was in the hands of educators in our school district (and our RTSE nodded yes) and so I finally gave up, realizing you did not want someone who did not want to teach your son and who did not have the skills to remediate dyslexia to actually be made to do so."
  4. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member


    We do have resource room, where my kids go and supposedly get some specialized instruction, particularly in writing and reading. I am not convinced it is doing a whole lot for them.

    It doesn't deal with homework per se. In addition to that, I was thinking that my children need a place where they can go and get specialized help on getting all those darn school projects done, or help getting math homework done or whatever. My goal is for them only to come home having to do some reading. I guess guided study hall would be the best term, but the guiding needs to be pretty hands on and intensive.

    Do resource rooms typically deal with homework? or more remedial type of services?

    Anyone have any thoughts on what are the best ways to measure whether student is on grade level in reading comprehension, writing, etc? is W-J test the best? How \frequently can it be given?

    Thanks for responding,
  5. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    What you need in my opinion is curriculum based assessment that is conducted very frequently (monthly) in relationship to SMART IEP goals. This avoids the problem of test-retest being invalid whcih is what your school district seems to be saying.

    HOMEWORK is the number one rated problem of parents on this board. I would get modifications written in. IT CAN BE DONE and homework is fair game for an IEP. As you may know, my ex-difficult child attended school half time in 7th and 8th grades and had a "study hall" in which all the homework he ever did was completed. If it could not be done in 45 minutes, then the school was assigning too much and it was up to the teachers to figure out how not to "overload." Here is an observation: under conditions of MY monitoring homework at home, ex-difficult child was a procrastinator; in the resource room (where it was also written in that he was to get no help because INDEPENDENCE was a major goal and he has no LDs) he was very efficient with his time. He never brought a book home in middle school after 6th grade.

    Your situation is different, but I hope my illustration is clear. If your difficult children need homework assistance, then GET IT IN THEIR IEPs. It sounds as though difficult child#2 needs a 1:1 during "study hall."

    It is trickier to get homework modifications, but it can be done The CBA is part of the law, so that is easier. in my opinion you should insist on frequent measurement of IEP goal progress particularly in core academic subjects. Testing via standardized instruments has uses, but for determining if IEP goals are being met, they are pretty useless.

    Best to you,

  6. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member


    thanks. We will certainly get the homework piece addressed. They have been quite willing to modify. What I am fighting is the tendency on their part to say, oh sure, no homework, when in fact in some cases the homework (as in math) I think provides the practice my kids need to be successful. The tendency on their part is to want to modify too much. Cheaper to lower the bar than to provide services to meet it. To be fair, though, for the last two years we all agreed to major modifications for my oldest, who like your son, was having a major case of school refusual. The goal was just to get him to school. But we have gotten him a ways beyond that now, and can focus more on achievement, though I know if we push too hard things could go south again perhaps.

    Interesting advice on what you say about curriculum assessment. So basically where kids are getting chapter tests in math say, we should write a goal that difficult child gets at least a C on all chapter tests. Then if he doesn't, we want more aides in class (which they will already be providing to a small group of kids including him in class), 1:1 help in study hall with math homework). My son is in a slower paced math class that has both 7 and 8 grade in it, but it is not exactly self-paced, so we need to determine what their goal is for him by the end of the year, and what are the benchmark curriculum assessments along the way, I guess.

    in Language arts, for my youngest (the one with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)), he has problems with reading comprehension, particularly making inferences etc from what he has read. The Special Education teacher tells me he is easily distracted, which is true, he responds to any external stimulus--but I think it is more than that. She says his reading is ok if he can read in very short chunks with much redirection. Hence I think she is arguing that he doesn't need a lot of help. I think the problem goes beyond that, though. And in any event, I am not sure that the tests or work they do in class provides a direct or clear enough measure of whether they are doing anything to improve his reading comprehension skills. Here I guess I am not sure what the best measure is.

    And in writing, they have a pretty rigorous approach to grading writing samples based what is used on state assessment tests, so I suppose they could grade writing samples based on that approach. Perhaps what we should ask for is that they do a graded writing assessment every six weeks or so to see if there is any progress.

    A big issue underneath all this is that in middle school they are willing to grade my kids less rigorously (grade on work completed, grade relative to what they think kids are capable of). While it would not do my kids much good to see a constant parade of "f"s, I end up with no idea of what level they are really producing at, and what kind of progress they are making.
    I am thinking at this point that it would be far better to deal with the real grades so we can see what is going on, rather than the "soft" grades. how have others addressed this issue?

    I am worried, because in high school, to avoid a modified diploma, we have to avoid modified grading. Accommodations yes, modifications no.

    So how frequently would you suggest that we ask for standardized achievement testing? Once a year, as a sort check on the curriculum assessments?

    Anyway, thanks again so much for your input. I have learned so much from you all.

  7. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    My responses may seem inconsistent between this and your other thread. I do not thinkso, however.

    Curricum based assessment lets you know if they are teaching to the IEP goals (assuming the goals are academic.) Standard scores allow you to see if the child is gaining or losing relative to peers on a longer term basis. I heartily agree it is easier to lower the bar than teach and that grades are a very soft measure. I would not want "Cs" on Chapter tests. I would want more specific measurement such as X% correct on Chapter tests on average becasue who knows what a "C" is?

    It is certainly true that my ex-difficult child was into school refusal in middle school. The good news is that after EGBS, it was never a problem's not that he LOVED high school, but at least he went. It took until sophomore year, i.e., last year, for him finally to take ownership of "everything" and start working hard even in classes he did not like. I am pretty happy with Mr No most of the time now, but it is a good thing I didn't know how long it woudl take to feel that way when he was 12. I might not have been able to face that which is why "one day at a time," and "baby steps" are good advice in my opinion.

  8. Christy

    Christy New Member

    A couple of examples of measurable goals.

    Joey will demonstrate knowledge of multiplication facts by answering with 75% accuracy on a math fact test in the first quarter of the school year, 80% accuracy by the end of the second quarter. 90% by the third quarter, and 95% by the end of the fourth quarter.

    Suzy will improve her reading fluency by reading 80 words per minute on a grade level selection of text by the end of the first quarter, 100 wpm by the 2nd quarter, 120 wpm by the 3rd quarter and 140 wpm by the end of the fourth quarter.

    When presented with the iep goals, if it is not stately clearly, simply ask, "how will this be measured" and have the answer added to the goal before signing.

    As for dyslexia, I was a reading intervention teacher who specialized in teachng dyslexic students using a systematic phonics program based on the orten gillingham teaching technique. It was a fantastic program developed in our school system and helped many students learn to read. It was originally called the dyslexia program but it was later determined after a parent went to due process over some special education issues that the school system is not qualified to diagnose dyslexia because it is a medical diagnoses(just like the school won't diagnosis ADHD but can certainly identify it in most cases). So the name of the program was changed but everything else was kept the same. We would use the same phonological assessment but were careful to say, "your child demonstrates the characteristics of dyslexia and based on these characteristic, would benefit from this particular reading intervention."

    Ask te school if it has a systematic phonics program as one of its reading interventions. SIPPS is a good program that is popular in many schools.

    Good Luck