10 Red Flags in Special Education School Records

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.

  1. Goals and short-term objectives that repeat year after year.
  2. Goals and short-term objective that change without an indication that the student met the previous years’ goals.
  3. 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.”
  4. Lack of measurable post-secondary goals (transition goals) based on a transition assessment for students 14 and older.
  5. Progress Reports that use amorphous/vague language.
  6. Progress Reports that specifically state that goals or short-term objectives are not met.
  7. Drastic changes in services year after year.
  8. Reduction of services with a change in school.
  9. Failing grades or MCAS scores.
  10. 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.


Welcome – Special Education Blog

Welcome to my special education blog.

I will use this space to write about updates and current issues related to the legal rights of students with disabilities in Massachusetts (special education law). I will also maintain a blog at specialedlaw.com, with posts about Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) cases and legal research.

Because every legal matter is different, the information you obtain from the blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult  an attorney to discuss your specific legal questions.