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Interim Reports...says who?

Posted Feb 17 2012 10:06pm
Interim Reports are reports that you, the parent, receive which inform you of your child's progress on making and meeting their IEP goals. Many reports show things like this: P, P+, P-, NP, NA, NP-, M. What does this mean and where's the proof?
I am guilty of not always keeping the best records on my student's progress on their IEP goals. Sometimes I would get bogged down in testing or helping students meet their classroom goals and not necessarily their IEP goals. So, when Progress Report time came along I would look through the records I did keep and see only a few "grades" or notes on their progress. Hence, they would receive a P- progress. But I learned, quickly, that for me, that wasn't good enough. And it shouldn't be good enough for you. In college, we Exceptional Children Teachers, were never taught record keeping. I was taught how to teach and test reading fluency, how to diagnose and recognize the signs of different behavior disorders, but not how to keep record of progress. Then it hit me, after my first year, I signed a LEGAL document, the IEP, that says the student in MY care would make progress in my classroom. They would make not just progress, but satisfy their goals which I was a part of designing. Whoa! If I wrote that Susie has to write 3 out of 4 complete sentences with appropriate 3rd grade conventions, I had to make sure that Susie completed this goal. I was responsible to show, if I was ever audited, that she made progress. As an EC teacher I not only had to know all the different arrays of possible disabilities my students would have, learn how their minds might work, come up with goals for them, work with parents and other therapist- but I was responsible for maintaining appropriate records of my teaching and their learning!
What does this mean for you, the parent? It means, when you receive a progress report that states your child has made P, that the teacher is working on this in the classroom. If you receive a progress report that says NP, that means either the student hasn't even come close to meeting the goal that was set or they haven't attempted to meet this particular goal. Either way, YOU have the right to ask to see how the teacher keeps a record of progress. If there is a P-, it means that progress is slow. Why? Was the goal too challenging for the student? Has the student, or teacher, been absent too many days to make appropriate strides toward meeting this goal? Ask. Perhaps an IEP revision is something to consider. I know what you are going to say, you don't want to rock the boat. You don't want the teacher to think you don't trust what they are doing. You don't want to cause trouble for your beautiful child. I get it. But, in my opinion (and, coincidentally the opinion of the National Teacher Certification Board) accountability is a major part of being a great teacher. You never want it to be the teacher's opinion that your student has worked toward his/her goals. You never want anything, when it comes to your child's learning, to be vague. Just ask- may I see how you are keeping record of Joey's progress? Even blame it on yourself- "I am learning how this all works. Could you show me how you determine that he has made progress?". Is one worksheet, in which he appears to have met his goal, enough to say that he has Mastered this task? No- 8 out of 10 times was the goal. Not 1 out of 40.
As a parent I encourage you to keep a binder with your child's IEP goals and whenever you receive a worksheet, test, report, etc. that matches the goal- put it in there! This is great preparation for your IEP meetings. If your child has many goals in many different subjects, perhaps there are too many goals for one school year. No child, or teacher for that matter, can master 50 different goals in one school year. If your child has 3 goals in writing, 3 in reading, 4 in math, 2 social skills and 1 organizational skill goal and only has the EC teacher for 30 minutes twice a week- impossible. No progress can be made unless it is the job of the regular teacher to teach these specific goals. In either case, make sure the records are being kept to show, without a shadow of a doubt, that your child's specific IEP goals are being taught... and learned.
If you have any questions about IEP goals, Interim Reports, or anything of the sort, please write a comment below. I am happy to help guide you in advocating for your sweet child.
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