Progress reports are flying through the schools at warp speed this time of year. Everybody is concerned with the little boxes that are checked reflecting whether a student has made progress or not. These little boxes have assumed massive power in determining a child’s abilities within the school. That’s a problem.
In the beginning of the school year, parents and teachers work together to assure a student’s day is appropriate. Therapists schedules are set, the school day becomes routine and the academic standards are approached. As the school year goes on, the process is watered down.
Now, it’s spring time and parents and teachers are discussing what type of progress children are making based on a progress form and never really looking at the tools and curriculum that are being used. Gathering data through curriculum is a lost practice on most IEP teams that needs to resume.
If a team (parents + teachers = team) is doing their job, not only should they have tally sheets on specific skills a child has accomplished, but also data regarding progress made within the research-based curriculum that is being used. Whether the curriculum is the same as the general population in the school or specific to the special education classroom, there should be curriculum!
There’s still time before the end of the school year to assess students according to their curriculum. Finding out a child is reading at a 1.5 grade level or has completed Red Book Level 1 is more important than checking a box that states “making progress”. Teachers, give yourself credit for the work you have done and assess the children with the tools you have in the classroom. Parents, if you don’t fully understand your child’s progress report and it lacks meaning to you, then it lacks meaning to most of the team also.
Using Curriculum Based Measurements (CBM’s) is one of the easiest, yet most effective ways to measure a child’s abilities within the classroom.
NOTE: Many teachers & parents will question whether a curriculum is being used in the classroom after reading the above suggestions. Bottom line: All children should have a structured reading & math curriculum at minimum. If the curriculum is not present in the child’s day on a consistent basis – you have found a starting point on how to improve special education for the child.