The best way for parents to determine whether their child is making effective progress is to rely on independent evaluators. In addition, there are red flags to look for within a student’s school records, including those found in Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and progress reports.
Below are ten examples of red flags that might indicate that a student is not making effective academic, social, and emotional progress.
- Goals and short-term objectives that repeat year after year.
- Goals and short-term objective that change without an indication that the student met the previous years’ goals.
- Goals and short-term objective that are not measurable. Note that in November, 2013, a law was passed that requires school districts to continue the current practice of including measurable short-term objectives and benchmarks in the IEPs of all students with disabilities. The Massachusetts special education law (Chapter 71B) was amended to include: “A child’s individualized education program, or IEP, as defined is 20 USC sec 1401 (14) shall include a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, and a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives.”
- Lack of measurable post-secondary goals (transition goals) based on a transition assessment for students 14 and older.
- Progress Reports that use amorphous/vague language.
- Progress Reports that specifically state that goals or short-term objectives are not met.
- Drastic changes in services year after year.
- Reduction of services with a change in school.
- Failing grades or MCAS scores.
- Language in evaluations or IEPs related to the student’s lack of consistency, including “varying progress,” “day to day,” “sometimes,” “with varying degrees of prompts,” “depending on mood/behavior,” etc.