re you the parent of a child receiving special education services due to autism or a learning disability? Are you looking for a few things that you can do, this new year, to benefit your child’s education? This article is for you! I will be discussing 5 things that you as a parent can do to help your child’s education in this new year!
1. Check all of your child’s past standardized testing, to see if they are on grade level. As an advocate I have helped children that have been several grade levels below their peers, and the parents did not realize this. Catching a child that is having academic difficulty early, and finding out what type of related and special education services they need, will help them keep up with their grade appropriate peers.
2. If you have never looked at your child’s educational record contact your district office (call and make sure that this is where the records are kept), and tell them that you would like to see your child’s school records. IDEA 2004 and FERPA give parents the right to look at their child’s school record, though schools do have up to 45 days for this. FERPA defines a school record as anything that is personally identifiable to a certain child. For example; E mails, letters, testing protocols, discipline records, (could also apply to audio and video recording, but may differ from state to state) etc.
Why is this important? This is important because some very strange items can be kept in a child’s school record, and these items can in the future be used against a child. For example: A medical record that you had not seen, a discipline record etc. FERPA does not necessarily allow for copying the records, but state law may give parents the right to do this, so check with your States Department of Education.
3. If you have not had a chance to observe your child at school in their current placement, tell your child’s teacher that you will be coming in to observe your child. Observe your child and the teacher’s relationship? Is your child in a corner by themselves, or are they sitting with other students? Is there a child that is acting in a disruptive manner, preventing the other children from learning? Also talk to your child’s teacher, about any difficulties your child is having, and any suggestions on how to improve the situation.
4. Get involved with the federal core educational standards movement! Each state has in the past, had their own core educational standards. Some states have had high standards, and some states like my own, have had low standards. For some time, there has been a movement to develop federal core educational standards that apply to all states. Federal Core standards have been developed and can be seen at: http://www.corestandards.org. At the moment these standards are voluntary, but states that adopt the standards can try and get additional funding for their states educational system.
Why are federal core standards important? They are important because they are considered very high standards, and these standards are meant to apply to all children, including children with disabilities. Fight for these standards for your child, to make sure that they are learning grade appropriate tasks, to prepare them for their adult life.
5. Become familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and file a State complaint for violations of this law! The complaint is filed with your States Department of Education and can help enforce the law, though may not always be successful! It has been my contention for many years, that if parents of children receiving special education services, filed more complaints the situation for children would be better than it is now