TEC §28.0216 requires that school district grading policies:
“(1) must require a classroom teacher to assign a grade that reflects the students’ relative mastery of an assignment; [and]
(2) may not require a classroom teacher to assign a minimum grade for an assignment without regard to the student’s quality of work.”
These rules apply to classroom assignments, examinations, and overall grades for each grading period. Because of this, teachers may not assign a grade based on effort, and schools cannot pass a student who has not mastered the curriculum. Since goals can be either academic or functional in nature, they either serve as a “link” to grade level standards, or they serve to help a student “access” grade-level standards. In this case, IEP goals remain supplementary to grade-level standards. Because of this, mastery of an IEP goal does not constitute passing a course, and passing a course does not equate to mastering an IEP goal.
What can you do if the school appears unwilling and/or unable to create a program or services to prevent your child from falling further behind or to narrow the gap with his or her peers? The school may say “Your child is making good progress” or “Your child is making passing grades”.
Recall the Law
An individualized education program “must include … A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to— (A) Meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and (B) Meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability; … (4) A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child, and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child— (i) To advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals; (ii) To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum”. 300.320(a)(2)(i)
A student’s progress or mastery toward his/her IEP goals is never the basis for his/her grade.
It is important to point out that, even if written in measurable terms, a goal such as “70% mastery of grade- level TEKS” does not meet IDEA requirements of a measurable goal detailed in 34 CFR §300.320(a)(2)(ii). Such a goal is simply a restatement of the expectations for all students in general education.
Students’ IEPs should not contain a restatement of the state standards, but must include measurable annual goals. Those goals designate the necessary learning for the student to ensure access to and progress in the general curriculum as well as resulting in the student’s attainment of standards set out as critical in his/ her PLAAFP (performance levels of academic achievement and functional performance).
LEAs report students’ progress towards mastery of their IEP goals through IEP progress reports. This is its own process and is separate from reporting students’ grades.
Monitoring your child’s progress is important anytime, but it is especially important now that the school year is half over. Reports from the school are not always very specific. Where is the child in relation to his/her peers, the grade level curriculum, his/her IEP goals?
The PRN website blog will be focusing on progress monitoring this month. We will be sharing articles and resources on grading and how to determine if your child is making progress towards IEP goals, a Section 504 plan, in RTI, and the general curriculum. You are encouraged to leave comments and ask questions at the end of the articles. Chuck Noe, our Education Specialist, will be answering questions and providing insight to help you determine if your child is making adequate progress and options to explore if your child is not making progress.