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.

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Monitoring Progress: Questions Parents Should Ask & Discuss

Keeping up on a student’s progress towards meeting their IEP goals can save valuable time. Be sure that you know how each goal will be monitored and when instructional changes should be made.

Regarding Strengths & Weaknesses

ASK: What do you see as my child’s strengths, weaknesses– academically, behaviorally, and socially?

DISCUSS: Your own thoughts about their strengths, weaknesses, interests, what motivates your child, what behaviors you see at home, and how your child feels about him/herself as a learner.

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How Does Mastery of Annual Goals Relate to Grading and Promotion?

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.

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6 Tips to Make Sure Your Child’s 504 Plan Is Being Followed

Your child’s 504 plan has been set in motion. Is the school delivering what it promised? Use these tips from Understood.org to monitor the situation throughout the year.

Know who’s providing your child’s services.

The 504 plan should state not only what special services your child will receive but also the name of the person is responsible for it. Try casually asking your child, “Have you worked with Mr. Jones this week?” Your child’s answer may tell you a little—or a lot—about how well the 504 plan is being followed.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “We have held __ IEP meetings this year. Your child is progressing with the current IEP, so we do not need another meeting.”

Recall the Law

The IEP must include “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 in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities;”  300.320(a)(4)

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How do you grade for a student with severe cognitive disabilities who is receiving services in the general education setting?

Considerations for grading students with severe cognitive disabilities are the same as for all students with disabilities.  The focus of IDEA 2004 is to provide all students access to general curriculum. Students should earn grades based on activities for which they are accessing the standards, not based on progress toward goals and objectives. The expectations for what these students should achieve in the grade-level content may be different from what is required in grade-level achievement standards due to needed modifications; however, the essence of the content at grade level should not change.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “Your Child is Making Good Progress”

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)

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Screening, Diagnosing, and Progress Monitoring for Reading Fluency

Screening, diagnosing, and progress monitoring are essential to making sure that all students become fluent readers — and the words-correct per-minute (WCPM) procedure can work for all three. The only aspect of the procedure that has to change is the difficulty level of the text.

For screening, passages are selected from text at the student’s grade level. For diagnosing, passages are selected at the student’s instructional level (which may be lower than her grade level). In this context, instructional level text is challenging but manageable, with the reader making errors on no more than one in 10 words (i.e., the reader is successful with 90 percent of the text) (Partnership for Reading, 2001). For progress monitoring, passages are selected at a student’s individually determined goal level. For example, if an 8th-grade student’s instructional level is at the 5th-grade level, the teacher may conduct the progress monitoring assessments using passages at the 6th-grade level.

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Can Teachers Base Grades on a Student’s Effort, Work Habits, Attendance, and/or Participation?

As referenced in state law (TEC § 28.0216), a school district grading policy must require a classroom teacher to assign a grade that reflects the student’s relative mastery of an assignment. Effort, attendance, work habits, and participation are not directly related to the demonstration of mastery of an assignment, nor do they give a clear picture of the student’s academic learning.

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