School Says, “No Advanced Classes for Kids with IEPs”, Now What?

My child has a learning disability. Her teachers want her to enroll in advanced classes. She is eligible based on her test scores and school performance. The School will not let her enroll her because she has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). What are her legal rights?

Wrightslaw.com says: Your child has an IEP because she is a child with a disability that adversely affects her education.

Because of her disability, she needs special education and related services.” 20 U.S.C. § 1401 (3). Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Ed., p. 49.

Children with IEPs receive protection from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504).

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Is Your Child Gifted and Needs Special Education?

“Your child is gifted and needs special education?” Many parents are all too familiar with this kind of comment. You may hear it from friends. From family. Even from some teachers and doctors.

Yet there are lots of people who have exceptional ability in some academic areas and significant learning difficulties in other areas. Educators use a special name to describe students who qualify for gifted programs as well as special education services. These children are referred to as “twice-exceptional” learners.

“Some organizations estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of twice-exceptional learners in U.S. schools.”

Consider Tessa: She’s a bright, insightful and enthusiastic fourth grader who is reading at a 12th-grade level. At the same time, she can’t pass her spelling tests, and writing is a huge struggle.

Consider Jamie: At 16, he knows everything about the Civil War, writes beautifully, and can talk endlessly about politics. Yet he needs a calculator to help him with even the most basic math. And he couldn’t tie his shoes until he was in seventh grade.

Consider Steven Spielberg: He’s one of the most successful filmmakers of all time, but reading has been a lifelong struggle for him because he has dyslexia.
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Least Restrictive Environment, Mainstreaming, and Inclusion

The terms least restrictive environment, inclusion, and mainstreaming are often used interchangeably. They are not, however, synonymous concepts. Least restrictive environment refers to the IDEA’s mandate that students with disabilities should be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with peers without disabilities. The LRE mandate ensures that schools educate students with disabilities in integrated settings, alongside students with and without disabilities, to the maximum extent appropriate. Least restrictive environment is not a particular setting.

The general education environment is considered the least restrictive setting because it is the placement in which there is the greatest measure of opportunity for proximity and communication with the “ordinary flow” of students in schools.

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Accommodations & Modifications

Every child with a disability has a right to attend general education classes and to have accommodations and modifications so they can be successful in those classes. These can include changes in the method of instruction, the curriculum, and the environment. Accommodations and modifications are important tools for a child to successfully accomplish Individualized Education Programs (IEP) goals and objectives and participate actively with other students in classroom and school activities.

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5 Inclusion Myths & Facts

Myth #1: Inclusion is easy.

Fact: Inclusion requires effort from all involved parties, and even then, it’s not a guaranteed success. Some of the steps you can take to make sure your child is included are:

  • Scouting out welcoming venues and making sure the sensory environment is appropriate.
  • Carrying a sensory toolkit to reduce anxiety in certain situations.
  • Identifying the times when extra assistance or patience are needed, and explaining your child’s needs to others.
  • Walking your student through his/her school schedule in an empty school the week before school starts.
  • Introducing your child to his teachers and helping him create an introductory portfolio.
  • Rehearsing situations and teaching etiquette proactively.

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Student Progress Monitoring: What This Means for Your Child

Progress monitoring can give you and your child’s teacher information that can help your child learn more and learn faster, and help you make better decisions about the type of instruction that will work best with your child.

Our children’s progress is being monitored constantly at school, through the steady stream of homework assignments, quizzes, tests, projects, and standardized tests. On first hearing the term “student progress monitoring,” our initial reaction may be “they’re doing this already!” or “more tests?”

But do you really know how much your child is learning or progressing? Standardized tests compare your child’s performance with other children’s or with state standards. However, these tests are given at the end of the year; the teacher who has been working with your child during the year will not be able to use the test results to decide how to help your child learn better.

Progress monitoring can give you and your child’s teacher information that can help your child learn more and learn faster, and help your child’s teachers teach more effectively and make better decisions about the type of instruction that will work best with your child. In other words, student progress monitoring is not another way of assigning a number to your child; it is a way of helping the child learn and the teacher teach.
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RTI and Reading: Response to Intervention in a Nutshell

The effort to understand Response to Intervention (RTI) has occupied many thousands of hours and hundreds of position and policy statements, white papers, consensus documents, and research articles. RTI is a process intended to shift educational resources toward the delivery and evaluation of instruction, and away from classification of disabilities. RTI is not a particular method or instructional approach. The success of RTI depends on the timely delivery of research-based instruction by highly qualified instructors. Although RTI can be implemented at any grade level, it is likely that the development of language and literacy skills will be addressed most prominently in the early grades, kindergarten though third grade.

The sheer volume of information that is available on RTI, much of which poses more questions than answers, makes it difficult for parents, educators, and other interested parties to develop a basic conceptual understanding of the process. The following is a brief guide to RTI and reading; it does not reflect how RTI will be implemented in all cases. The guide avoids detail on such issues as the changing roles of school professionals and parents; the need for reallocation of human and economic resources; staff development; or how to choose among methodological alternatives. However, this “nutshell” framework may provide a foundation upon which the interested, albeit not profoundly involved, individual can gradually build a working understanding of the process.
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When, Where and How are Disabilities Diagnosed?

Children may be diagnosed with a disability by a medical provider or by the school district. However, one must understand that being simply diagnosed with a disability is not a guarantee of services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Having a disability is the first question when determining if a student qualifies. The evaluation team must also answer two additional questions:

  • Does the disability impact the child’s educational progress?
  • Does the child need specially designed instruction (which is the IDEA definition of special education)?

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Is My Child Making Progress towards IEP Goals?

By the time “Mrs. Bailey” contacted a professional to evaluate her son, she had been receiving quarterly progress reports from his public school for five years, telling her that Kevin was making progress toward achieving the academic goals listed in his Individualized Education Program (IEP). However, her observations of Kevin’s homework and the graded school work that came home didn’t match the school’s evaluation, and she wanted a psychologist to provide a “second opinion.” The outside evaluation confirmed his mother’s concerns — he had deficits in math calculation and written expression skills. In fact, Kevin’s written expression skills were severely delayed and fell in the first percentile — meaning that 99 percent of students his age performed better on the test. Naturally, Mrs. Bailey felt astonished, frustrated, and guilty about not realizing Kevin’s lack of progress sooner in his schooling.

Parents of children with learning disabilities (LD) who are receiving special education services receive regular reports of progress on their children’s IEP goals, as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA). Often these progress reports don’t really provide parents specific information, based on assessment data, as to whether their child is making progress or not.

There are several key factors that can have a positive impact on determining whether or not a child makes real, measurable progress. These include:

  •  a comprehensive evaluation that identifies a child’s strengths and weaknesses; and appropriately identifies a child’s educational needs
  •  explicitly stated present levels of performance
  •  appropriate and measurable goals/objectives
  •  effective instructional methods, and
  • continuous progress monitoring

Ask a parent how their child’s progress toward goals and objectives is being monitored and reported to them, and most often the response is “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know.” As in Mrs. Bailey’s case, it can be years before parents realize that their child is not making progress — or that the achievement gap between their child and his peers has actually widened while receiving special education services. So, how can you really know if your child is making progress? What should you do if you don’t think your child is “making expected progress” toward IEP goals and objectives?
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5 Common Techniques for Helping Struggling Students

Teachers know that students walk into their classrooms with a wide range of abilities. But teachers try to find ways to meet the needs of all students, including those with learning and attention issues. Here are five common teaching methods.

1. Differentiated Instruction

With this approach, teachers change and switch around what students need to learn, how they’ll learn it, and how to get the material across to them. When a student struggles in one area, the teacher creates a plan that includes extra practice, step-by-step directions, and special homework. Find out more about differentiated instruction.
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