By Nina Peckman, Staff Attorney
What kinds of questions should you ask at the school meeting to assess your child’s progress and to request help for your child?
- What information does the Start Strong assessment result say about my child? How are these results guiding the instruction that my child is getting?
- What are my child’s current reading and math levels? What were they in June 2021? In June 2020?
- What informal assessments did my child receive? What skills did the assessments test cover?
- What is the average range of a typical child at the point in time of this meeting for math and reading? (ex. January of the 4th-grade year)
- What are the skills that are typically learned by a child in my child’s grade?
- What kind of specific services can you add to my child’s curriculum, during school, after or in the summer to make up for services that should have been provided but weren’t?
- If my child becomes overwhelmed by too many extra services, can we agree to provide extra education services for my child over the next two years?
- If tutoring is available, what are the qualifications of the tutor?
- What kind of counseling services can my child receive? Can the counseling services have specific goals to address my child’s particular needs?
- If my child needs an accommodation to his or her school schedule due to stress, depression or anxiety, how can my child receive that without being punished for being absent from class/school?
- How can my child get missed classwork, tests or homework with extra time and extra support if necessary, to make up for time away from class due to emotional issues?
- My child has a therapist who understands my child’s emotional and behavioral issues and is helping with that. What can I do to ensure the school counselor collaborates with the therapist?
- How will school staff decide and document if the added strategies and services are working to help my child?
- Can we schedule a short meeting in six weeks to go over my child’s progress and see how the additional services are working?
If your child’s education was affected by the pandemic, parents can take certain steps to help get them back on track. Your school may already be providing your children with additional education services and supports. If you feel that the supports and services are inadequate, or are not sure if your child is making adequate progress, follow these steps for 2022:
1. Request a school meeting to discuss progress and how to help your child.
Write to your child’s teacher and principal, if applicable, as well the school guidance counselor, social worker, Intervention and Referral Services (IR&S) team, Child Study Team, 504 team or other school support staff, to request a meeting to discuss:
- your child’s current academic levels,
- what progress your child should have made since March 2020,
- what progress has been made, if the school-based services are helping your child progress; and
- what assessments should be conducted, what other services should be implemented.
2. Prepare for a school meeting.
You should review your child’s relevant school records and write down questions or concerns you may have. Write to your school principal and ask for copies of student records from March 2020 until the present, including grades, progress reports, attendance records, child study team evaluation reports and education plans if applicable, intervention and referral services plans, health plans, behavior plans, a copy of the Start Strong assessment results (administered in the fall of 2021 for students in 4th grade or higher), and the results of objective informal assessments that teachers give students periodically to assess language arts and math.
You should also request a record of the education services your child received from March 2020 to the present.
Records must be provided within ten days of your written request in a mutually convenient way, such as you picking them up, or having them emailed or mailed.
3. Know what services you can ask for.
Your child is entitled to receive tutoring at mutually convenient times, summer school, supplementary classes, counseling, social-emotional supports and an I&RS plan if a more formal structured service plan is needed. If your child has learning or behavior/emotional issues that are seriously affecting school performance, child study team evaluations may be appropriate and if eligible, an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 plan.
4. After the meeting is over - Get confirmation.
Ask for written confirmation from the school staff attending about what will be provided. You can also email the school staff that participated and confirm what was agreed upon at the meeting, including any next steps.
If the school staff who were at the meeting do not implement an appropriate plan or address your concerns, you may contact ACNJ Staff Attorney Nina Peckman for information and advocacy assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (973) 643-3876, ext. 226.