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Thread: Failing 5th Grade Math Class--need direction

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Failing 5th Grade Math Class--need direction

    My son has asperger's and has an IEP. At the start of the year the school proposed a math goal as my son's grades were slipping, he failed the math SOL and they proposed a self-contained math class. I observed the class and refused the self-contained class as all the kids had stimming issues and my son does not. The pace was also very, very slow.

    I asked for testing and told them a math goal was premature without knowing the areas of weakness. They did a KTEA and Key math test but insist there are no tests to find what grade level my son is on. They only say he's NOT on grade level. They again proposed the self-contained math class and a very broad goal. The testing has taken a while and now I'm going through a transition IEP for middle school and I haven't signed the IEP yet as it's not completed. Meanwhile, my son is doing worse in math and I asked for ESY and was denied. I was told that without a goal they can't offer services. I thought that IEP teams have the power to do most anything they want if it provides a child with educational benefit--am I wrong? How do I get my son math help over the summer through his IEP so that his progress (or lack of) can be measured?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Reply to Mykidsmomto4

    Dear Mykidsmomto4,

    Iíd like to be able to say the reason it took longer than usual to answer your question is that my dog Ruby ate your question.

    Iíd like to be able to say that but I canít. The reason is that your question is so fascinating that it took me a while to put an answer together for you.

    Goal and Services

    In your question you said the school proposed a math goal because your sonís math grades were slipping. You said you thought a goal was premature because your sonís areas of weakness were not known. You were right to ask for testing to find the areas of weakness.

    Forgive me for guessing here that before this your son did not have an IEP. I make that assumption because if he had an IEP at the time the school surely would have been some testing done before writing the IEP. If this is true, then the IEP the school has not finished yet will be his initial IEP.

    I also must assume that because the school proposed a math goal it did have some inkling about what the goal should be and why your son needed the goal. I'd go so far to say the school may have had a suspicion your son had a disability. More on that suspicion later.

    You are right about the relationship between an IEP goal and services. The annual goal must be written first. Next the IEP team must decide what services (type and duration) are necessary to help your son reach that annual goal. It doesnít work the other way around.

    The good news-bad news is the school did some testing. I say bad news because the school insists there are no tests to find what grade level your son is on.

    I donít believe it and neither should you.

    Test for math achievement or grade level

    The school district did a KTEA. I assume you are refering to the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement. The most recent version is the second edition, KTEA-II. If my assumption is correct, then there are two KTEA tests.

    The first is the KTEA Comprehinsive Form. The second is the KTEA Brief Form.

    Both of these tests are published by Pearson Publishing.

    The publisher describes the results of the Comprehensive Form as, ďScores/Interpretation: Age- and grade-based standard scores (M=100, SD=15), age and grade equivalents, percentile ranks, normal curve equivalents (NCEs), and staninesĒ

    Pearson also describes the Brief Form as ďindispensable for school and clinical psychologists, special education teachers, and othersĒ Pearson says this is a short measure of achievement and is ideal for screening and prereferral.Ē

    You can find the publishers descriptions and other information about these two tests at

    According to the publisher, both of those tests appear to be exactly the kind of test your school district says it cannot find to measure your sonís grade level (achievement) in math.

    You could call Pearson and ask. The phone number is( 800) 627-7271.

    Letís pretend

    Letís pretend the KTEA does not exist. And letís pretend your school district actually believes there are no tests to find what grade level in math that your son fits into.

    Something the school district cannot pretend does not exist is your State Department of Educationís learning standards. Some States call them academic standards. Others call them content standards.

    Can the school ignore the content standards for students who have an IEP?

    No, because the IEP annual goals must be aligned with the State learning (content) standards. Is that a big deal?


    And that brings us to what may be the most important point. An IEP is a whole document. It isnít ďthis piece and that piece.Ē It is no accident that the statement of present levels of academic achievement and functional performance is the very first section in every IEP. It is the foundation for everything in an IEP.

    The school district said your son is not on grade level

    If your son had an IEP at the time, that statement sounds like an admission that your sonís past and current IEPs have been woefully inappropriate.

    If he did have an IEP, did you get any inkling from the IEP progress reports the school was supposed to be giving to you?

    Oh. You didnít get any progress reports that had actual data in them? Beware of subjective progress reports that say something like ďdoing just dandy, everybody loves your son.Ē

    More important, though, the school district was able to say he is not at grade level in math. Something to keep in mind is that if your son is doing poorly in math and his performance is not caused by a lack of classroom instruction, then maybe there is reason.

    A school must evaluate for each suspected disability. In your sonís case did that happen? Iím certainly not a qualified diagnostitian but I can suggest that maybe the school should consider testing him for a specific learning disability called discalculia. You can read about that at

    Present levels

    The IEP team must determine how (and to what extent) your sonís disability affects his involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. This is a primary consideration for the IEP team as it develops the annual goals in the IEP.

    This is vitally important because another part of the IDEA regulations require the IEP to include measurable annual goals that are designed to meet a childís needs that result from the disability. This is intended to enable the child to be involved in the general education curriculum and make progress in that curriculum. You can find this connection at 34 CFR ß 300.320(a)(2)(i)(A) and section 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(II)(aa) of the IDEA statutes.

    This means that if the present levels are vague, so too will be the annual goals. Annual goals written without a beginning reference of data-based information amounts to writing annual goals on pure guesswork. It is as futile as the efforts of midieval alchemists who thought they could to make gold out of lead.

    Unless the IEP has measurable annual goals designed to meet the childís needs that result from the childís disability, those annual goals are not likely to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.

    The IEP not completed.

    Count your blessings. You still have a chance to make a significant change in your sonís special education program.

    Oh sure, you say. What can I do when the school district steam rolls over me at the IEP meeting?

    Glad you asked.

    The procedural safeguards are your friend.

    But the problem with the procedural safeguards the school gives you does not come with an ownerís manual. In addition, many of us glance through the procedural safeguards looking for a particular section or part that has to do with an immediate problem we are having with the school.

    Take time to read the procedural safeguards as a complete recipe book for getting what your child needs.

    Well before the next IEP meeting, write a plan for yourself. List everything you want to talk about. Donít try to figure out ďif they say this, I say that.Ē Make your plan into a list of talking points that you want to cover. Having that list will keep you on track if the school district trys to distract you, create straw arguments, and so forth.

    I also suggest that you write the special education director a letter and mail it at least five days before the meeting. Your letter should tell the school district what you want to cover during the meeting and why you want to cover those them. Donít write a letter that attacks the school or the IEP team members. Stick with what you can fix; the IEP. Your letter should be short. One page should be enough.

    The IEP team denied your request for ESY

    I am assuming that because you asked the question about ESY the school district did not give you a written prior notice that explains why the school district did not take the action you asked it to take.

    If the school district did not give you a reason for denying your request for ESY you should ask. Write a letter to the special education director and ask specifically why the IEP team denied ESY for your son. By letter, I do not mean an email message.

    A prior written notice is part of the procedural safeguards. You can find the rule at 300.503(a)(1) and (2); 20 USC 1415(b)(3) and (4) You can find that rule at

    In part, the prior written notice should contain -

    • A description of the action proposed or refused by the district.
      An explanation of why the district proposes or refuses to take the action.

    • A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the district used as a basis for the proposed or refused action.

    • A statement that the parents have protection under Part B's procedural safeguards.


    • A description of other options considered by the IEP team and the reasons why those options were rejected.

    You need to know the reason the school turned down your request for ESY before you can decide how to present the IEP team with the reasons ESY is necessary for your son to receive FAPE.

    The most often reason schools give parents for denying ESY is because, in the schoolís opinion, the student is not likely to regress during the summer months.

    Although regression and recoupment is a recognized condition for ESY, some courts have said that other criteria also apply. For example, the degree of the studentís disability, availability of other resources, and the parent's ability to provide an educational structure at home. A school that provides ESY solely on the standard of regression and recoupment runs a risk of violating the IDEA and denying FAPE.

    What can an IEP do if it wants to?

    You said you thought "that IEP teams have the power to do most anything they want if it provides a child with educational benefit--am I wrong?"

    An IEP team can provide an IEP that includes whatever it believes is necessary for the student to receive a free appropriate public education and is allowable by law. It can give a student more than a hearing officer could order.

    The Summer

    What can you do to get your son the math help through his IEP that he needs over the summer months?

    If your effort at the next IEP meeting fails to get ESY for the summer you have a few choices. One is to ask for a due process hearing so you can prove to a hearing officer that ESY is necessary for FAPE. That isn't practical at this time of year because the school year is almost over. At the very best a hearing officer could not hand down a decision before your son needs to begin his summer math studies.

    Your other choice is to give the school a ten-day notice that you intend to enroll your son in a program and seek reimbursement from the school district.

    The ten-day notice requirement is in the procedural safeguards. What you must do is give the school written notice at least 10 days before enrolling or beginning a private program for your son - or - give the school notice at the next IEP meeting. If you give the notice at the IEP team meeting you must not have already enrolled your son in a summer math program. A program could be an on line course, a qualified tutor, or a structured private math program.

    You should get a legal opinion from a special education attorney in your area about the ten-day notice before you give your notice of intent to the school.

    How can the summer program measure his progress or lack thereof? What can I say. I would think any competent math tutor could give your son graded tests at the beginning of the summer. By graded I mean graded by difficulty or by grade level expectations. If your son is in middle school and the tutor tested him at successive grade levels, that tutor would soon have a pretty good idea about what grade level in math your son is competent. I'm not an educator but it seems pretty straight forward to me.

    I hope this answers your questions. If not, let me know.

    - bp

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