Why there’s so little progress with special education students

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

To the editors:

Last year, one of my children was identified as "Learning Disabled and Other Health Impaired Due to ADHD." I can see why our special education students are not making AYP goals.

My son is a second grader, and until recently had spelling words like "pioneer" and "nearby" for homework from the regular education classroom. Then, he went to the resource room and was assigned words like "hot" and "pick." He didn’t take the spelling tests with the regular ed teacher because he can’t spell the words, although he had to do the homework all week using them.

I asked whether he could be responsible for three to five of the regular classroom words. I asked if he could take a recognition test with a word bank. I asked if he could take a modified test with the special ed teacher and be scored for letters correct, not words correct. The response I got was my son no longer has to do any of the spelling homework from the regular education teacher.

My son is not using any educational software this year. He did use a phonics-based literacy program last year. But when I asked what skills he was working on and what progress he was making, the principal responded, "Gee, I guess there must be some way to get that information." I never got it.

I have asked – apparently to deaf ears – that my son’s IEP be revised. The school personnel with whom I have been involved absolutely do not know how to write specific, measurable goals or objectives. School staff, including the school psychologist, say our son should be retained because he is working below grade level.

No wonder the students aren’t making progress.

Donna L. Nice