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Thread: Very confused about criteria for mastery...

  1. #1
    trek is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Sep 2006

    Default Very confused about criteria for mastery...

    My older son Grant is HFA and has other disabilities that impact him in the classroom. He is a rising 7th grader in inclusive setting. Most past years(since he was 3) he has met his goals, but the criteria was too low I realize now. Anyway, after hiring a paid advocate who helped get the county to LISTEN a bit more, it appears as though my son is not meeting most of his goals. Yet they have it listed as "making sufficient progress to meet goal" under 4th (last) quarter.
    1) For example for math goal
    - Grant will improve his math skills by performing operations with fractions with like denominators
    d. division
    Criteria for mastery 80% yet for 4th quarter it is only 66% for add/subtract; 75% multiplication
    Method of evaluation informal assessments and data collection
    n/a 1st quarter, 46-56% 2nd quarter, 25-76% depending on operation 3rd quarter.

    So if someone attains close to the criteria than it is considered "making sufficient progress"? This matters as the advocate keeps saying we need documentation to make case for ESY for math during school year. The county said they were providing appropriate support. Grant had math study skills, math connections and co-taught math in 6th still failed math, and will have same set-up for 7th.

    The math goals for 7th have the word independently added- something Grant struggles with-tonight he could not figure out what the difference between 2 numbers meant when I TOLD him what he needed to figure out a math problem.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Mastery, Appropriateness, and State Standard of Learning


    When you sent an earlier question to me a few days ago I got the impression that you are in the State of Georgia. If I have guessed wrong, the answer for you today will still work because each state must follow the IDEA.

    The key words for answering you today are “general education curriculum.”

    Those three words appear in the Georgia special education regulations as well as every other state’s special education regulations.

    IEP & Progress in the General Education Curriculum

    There are two laws that talk about standards and achievement.

    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)

    Note: Georgia, I believe, has a waiver for NCLB. However, if it does, the demand for high standards and achievement are still expected by the U.S. Department of Education.

    The NCLB statement of purpose says:

    "The purpose of this title is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assesssments. (emphasis added) This purpose can be accomplished by ... meeting the educational needs of low-achieving children ... [including] children with disabilities." 20 U.S.C. § 6301

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

    The Congressional statement of purpose for the IDEA is:

    Statement of Purpose, 20 USC 1400 (c)(5)(A)

    (5) Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by—

    (A) having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible, in order to— [Emphasis added]

    (i) meet developmental goals and, to the maximum extent possible, the challenging expectations that have been established for all children; and [Emphasis added]

    (ii) be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible; [Emphasis added]

    The IDEA says the IEP must be based on "the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance." The IEP must include "a
    statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to 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 ..." [Emphasis added]

    Also, the IDEA tells us a child's IEP must include "a statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and districtwide assessments ..." 20 U.S.C. 1414(d) [Emphasis added]


    (1) PURPOSE. These rules are designed to :

    (a) Ensure that all eligible children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living; [34 C.F.R. § 300.1 (a)] [Emphasis added]

    (b) Ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected ; [34 C .F .R . § 300.1 (b)]

    (c) Assist educational agencies to provide for the education of all children with
    disabilities ; and [34 C.F.R. § 300 .1 (c)]

    (d) Assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities. [34 C.F.R. § 300.1 (d)] [Emphasis added]

    What is suffiecient progress?

    You can compare your child’s academic achievement assessment scores with your state’s academic standards. The academic standards will be listed by grade and by subject.

    Go to your state’s Department of Education website and look for a link to academic standards or grade level expectations or curriculum frameworks. Every state has them.

    In Georgia, where I think you live, these are the links to the math standards -

    Look for the standards for the grade your child is in now. In your situation you will look at the math standards. Some states call the math standard by other names. But for whatever name the state uses for the math standards, you will recognize that section by the subject matter described in the standard.

    You could make a bar chart showing the state standard for the grade your child is in and your child’s current academic achievement level from the school’s assessments. You do get a report showing how your child scored on the schoolwide assessments, don’t you?

    Proof of sufficient progress, I suppose, would be achievement scores that show an increase in achievement levels over time. The IDEA does not guarantee academic stardom. It only provides for giving a disabled student an educational benefit. Sad, but true.

    But if your child’s math achievement scores are not getting better, or minimal or erratic progress, then you can argue that he is not making sufficient progress under his current IEP.

    You also asked,

    “So if someone attains close to the criteria then it is considered making sufficient progress?”

    Well you did say your son repeatedly fails math. Compare his failing grades with the state standard for math. I’d be willing to bet a dollar to a hole in a donut that what you find will not support the school’s claim that your son is making adequate progress.

    You said this matters because your advocate keeps saying you need documentation to make a case for ESY for math during school year.

    Your advocate is right. How else will you prove your son needs ESY for math during the school year? Or for that matter, during the summer months?

    And you said the county claims it is providing appropriate support. Well, what does appropriate mean? The most general definition of appropriate is something that is fit for the purpose. Are the supports the county is providing fit for the purpose (helping your son make annual progress with his annual IEP goals)? Probably not.

    You are facing a struggle for convincing your school district to change your son’s IEP such that his IEP is appropriate and provides him with a free appropriate public education. A struggle does not mean impossible.

    To do it you should consider having a strong, experienced advocate or attorney help you document the right things to prove his current IEP (as well as his previous IEPs) is not appropriate and must be changed.

    Thank you for your questions. I hope these answers help.

    Brice Palmer

  3. #3
    trek is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Thanks. Yes, live in GA. Our state does indeed have a waiver for NCLB.
    I'm aware of the standards, in math my son has struggled to meet most of the math standards over the years. If you are talking benchmark testing that they do quarterly than my son did pass any of the testing since 3rd grade in math. They did want to retain him last year as is required by our county's framework since he failed math and failed to pass the math CRCT (this was in 5th). As a team and as suggested by the advocate we use who is not a fan of retention, we placed him yet again in another grade. My son Grant has ONLY been promoted to next grade level 2x since kindergarten if that helps.

    At his annual meeting, I did ask about more math support, but the county stated that he was receiving appropriate support. We do tape meetings. I am still preplexed by having annual goals and not receiving progress for 4th quarter that clearly states NOT MET which I assume should be put down if it was the last opportunity to meet the math goals. Sure, he came close in a few areas, but 66% is not 80% or am I still not understanding? They sure are fast to close goals that are met, but am I not correct in asking for something besides "making sufficient progress" for final update on a goal at end of the year?

    Maybe I am way off the mark, and am making mountains out of molehills?

    Thanks for your time yet again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012



    I cannot comment on the specifics of your son’s special education program without seeing your son’s current (and most recent past IEPs) and his educational evaluations.

    You already know your son’s IEP is not appropriate and you already know his previous IEPs were not appropriate. You know that because the school has promoted him to the next grade only twice since he left kindergarten. That tells us he is performing in math at somewhere around a 2nd or 3rd grade level. The school knows it too.

    But your “knowing” it is different from being able to prove it during the heat of an IEP meeting. In addition, having the proof at an IEP meeting is only part of what you need to persuade the school district that you have the upper hand.

    Making sufficient progress

    Annual goals must be measurable, right? So why shouldn’t we expect an annual goal report that shows objective numbers that proves whether progress on each annual goal has happened?

    In your earlier questions to me you mentioned that you have a paid advocate (or have had a paid advocate in the past). Let's just take a moment here to say having a well trained and experienced special education advocate is good – but – I also believe every parent must learn advocacy skills as soon as they can.

    Why? Because advocates come and go. You, on the other hand, will have to be your son’s best advocate for many years to come. Only you have a full grasp of his education records. Only you know what happens between IEP meetings. And only you see the day-in-day-out destruction to your son’s life an inappropriate education creates for him.

    Many years ago I realized that even if a parent has a competent advocate, it’s best to keep that advocate (or attorney) working in the background. Why? Because when an advocate or attorney shows up at an IEP meeting the school folks circle the wagons in defense. Nothing much gets done for a child because the school district has it’s war shields up. That isn’t the atmosphere you need when you are trying to persuade (negotiate) with the school district.

    The IEP meeting table is your “hearing room.” The IEP team members are your jury. Yes, I can hear you say the meetings are fixed, or the special education director calls all the shots. That happens all too often. There is a way to change that. But to cause that change it takes a parent who knows how to be their child’s strongest advocate. It also takes planning and patience.

    An experienced advocate or attorney in the background can help you create paper trails; write persuasive letters; avoid substituting email messages for letters to the school; and plan for the next meeting. This help can be valuable and less costly than having your warrior at the meetings. Your advocate or attorney can be on standby in case you need to step away from the meeting and use your cell phone to call. Nobody gets turned down if they need to go to the bathroom. Just think of the bathroom as your phone booth.

    There is a guideline for hiring an education advocate on the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocate (COPAA) website. Go to Guidelines for Choosing an Advocate at

    You will also find a Guidelines for Choosing an Attorney at

    For full disclosure I have to say that I served on the COPAA board of directors and the committee that wrote these guidelines.

    You taped the meetings –

    Did you transcribe your tapes?

    Yes, it does take a lot of time and is a lot of trouble. A written transcription of a taped meeting will often surprise you with stuff you either don’t remember or that you didn’t pick up during the meeting. I am continually amazed at what school districts say and try to get by with during IEP meetings. One of my clients routinely does this. A written transcript is priceless for planning for the next meeting or, for that matter, getting ready for a due process hearing or OCR complaint. All you need is a good recorder, preferably a digital recorder, a good headset for transcribing, and plenty of patience. It will pay FAPE dividends.

    You asked if you are off the mark and making mountains out of molehills.

    Gosh, I don’t think so. Your task now is to make your molehills into strong arguments in favor of getting your son an appropriate IEP.

    What I mean by that is learn how to analyze your son’s education records. I don’t mean just going through the records and underlining, highlighting, and putting sticky notes on everything you don’t like in those records.

    There is a real trick to it.

    1. Decide what your real issue is with the IEP. An issue here means a legal issue. A provable violation of one or more of the special education rules. For example, Old Overshoe School District denied my son a free appropriate public education BECAUSE it failed to evaluate his annual math goal using the criteria specified in the rules.

    2. Locate the text in the education records that prove (is not disputable) your issue is a violation. Become an expert at forensic document peeping.

    3. Your evidence log –

    For each document that shows undisputable evidence that proves your issue, create a separate log page. For example:

    a) [Date on the document] [name of document such as Letter to Old Overshore School district dated], and page number where the proof is.

    b) Issue: [write what the issue is]

    c) quote the text in your log.

    d) write a short description about what you believe this document proves.

    4. Use that information to make a plan for your next IEP meeting. Remember that you don’t have to wait until the next annual meeting. You can ask for an IEP meeting anytime you think one is necessary. One way to do this is by making yourself a talking points list.

    The talking points list is just short descriptions of the major points you want to make at the meeting. Take the talking points and your evidence log with you to the meeting. You will have everything at your fingertips so you can be in control.

    Dont' be surprised if the LEA tries to find ways to shut down the meeting prematurely. If that happens, you will write a courteous follow up letter to the school saying how unfortunate is was that the school was not prepared to talk about a free appropriate public education for your son.

    When personal temperatures rise during the meeting you can remain as cool as the center seed of a cucumber because you know what your talking points are, you have command of your evidence, and you know why you need to cover those points. You have a goal for the meeting.

    My friend and colleague Barbara Ebenstein says, “you must be the adult in the room.”

    I hope this helps.

    Brice Palmer
    Benson, Vermont

  5. #5
    trek is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Again, thank you for taking the time to reply. I should see the changes regarding progress on my son's goals for this past school year. The county has agreed to state that Grant did not meet the math goals.

    I plant to utilize your suggestions to put together a "case" for why it will be appropriate to provide ESY in math for Grant this school year. I'm still waiting for data for the math modified CRCT - not just score. I know from my experience that graphs/data really send the county into a tizzy. During IEP meeting in 5th grade I presented a graph that really angered them. But, numbers don't lie! So, will have to go down that path again.

    Thanks so much. I hope by end of September to hold a meeting-want to give Grant at least 4-5 weeks of math in 7th and school resumes July 30th.

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