Frequently Asked Questions

right to an independent educational evaluation at school expense

  • U.S. office of education guidance insuring parental right to have an independent educational evaluation with an evaluator of the parents' choice
  • parents have a right to an IEE if:  parents disagree with an evaluation that the school has conducted even if the "disagreement" is that the findings or interpretation don't seem right to the parent
  • the school accepts any of the findings or suggestions of an IEE that parents have already sought and paid for
  • independent means independent from the school system; the school need not suggest or approve the evaluator, the school does not have to agree as long as the evaluator is qualified (see U.S. office of education guidance)
  • the school must take the parents to hearing to deny parents an IEE.  The burden of proof is on the school to demonstrate that an IEE is not needed
  • the school is not obligated to accept the findings of an IEE; if there is a difference of opinion arbitration can be sought through mediation or hearing
  • rights to an independent evaluation refer to each form of evaluation:  educational/academic, psychological, speech and language, assistive technology, occupational and physical therapy

evidence of reading skill disability vs reading skill delay

  • evidence of a phonologically based reading disability is seen in the kind of errors made when reading (sounding out words or decoding) and when spelling.  In younger children in can be seen in invented spellings that do not carry the sounds of the word
  • a suggestion of delay would be if the child has grasped the idea of how words should be attacked but has not had adequate exposure to systematic reading skill instruction.  This can be seen in spelling errors that are mainly phonologically correct (hows for house) or reading errors that show effective word attack but poor knowledge of the code (reading kite as kit). 
  • evidence of a visuospatial confusion about orthography (the patterns of letters used to designate sounds) would suggest an orthographically based reading disability.   This kind of problem can be seen in a very slow reading rate, difficulty recognizing syllable breaks in written words, difficulty orienting to the rime portion of a syllable.   Sometimes a child will have difficulty returning to the next line on the left.

Guidelines for Evaluation Progress in IEP Objectives

  • baseline before IEP objectives have been instituted should be measured in clear, objective terms, using reliable and valid measures.  Instruments, such as the DRA, which are not normatively standardized should not be relied on
  • the same or highly similar evaluation tools, meeting the same criteria should be used as measures of growth from baseline
  • gains can be seen in an improved quality of error
  • gains in standard scores need to allow for measurement error
  • gains should be measured in the specific deficit area; a gain in reading comprehension would not be a meaningful IEP gain if the deficit area is decoding; a gain in computational skill would not be a meaningful IEP gain if the deficit area was formation of math concepts

Guidelines for Judging and Adequate IEP (individual education program)

  • based on what the child idiosyncratically needs, not on what is already available in the school
  • goals and objectives match needs established in test findings and school performance
  • modifications support all deficit areas that interfere with classroom performance
  • objectives specify what will be taught:  will improve decoding or will improve grade level do not specify what will be taught; instead these objectives DO specify what will be taught:  will decode consonant vowel consonant (cvc) wordsor will attack cvc words first as rime (vc) and then onset (cvc)

Math Assessment

  • correct execution of procedure does not mean that a student understands what s/he is computing
  • students frequently compute correct answers which they cannot read (101, 048) and which they do not understand (.05)
  • "careless" errors are rarely careless.  Often they are systematic and show a consistent misunderstanding
  • "careless" errors can occur when a student does not have the working memory facility to track all the steps in a multistep or complex problem
  • what is accepted as "problem solving" is often not problem solving.  Instead, students have practiced many problems of exactly the same form and have mechanical solutions
  • solving problems by using key words (more, less than, how many left...) is not problem solving at all
  • conceptual problems are mistaken for visual perception problems, for example confusing 12 with 21
  • math problems can be associated with visuospatial deficits, working memory deficits, language processing deficits.  It is important to know the source of the difficulty

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