Free Templates for Special Ed Families

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Special Ed Moms

Advocating for my children through the special education process has been challenging, and I have learned a lot. To help other special ed parents and families, I have developed a number of advocacy templates over the years. These have also been shared on the website of the Cambridge SEPAC.

These resources free, with the caveat that I am a parent, not an attorney, and that this does not represent legal advice. Please note that I am unable to provide more individualized advice at this time. But don’t worry – you can do this!

Introducing a child to new teachers: “About My Child” Template

I did not invent this concept, but I did create a template that you can easily type into. Teachers are extremely busy, and one point of using a template like this is that you can effectively “chunk” information in order to make it easily scannable and digestible. Make a copy and then download it as a PDF to attach to an email to your child’s teachers.

Documenting lack of adequate progress: Norm-Referenced Test Results Graph

Students can make progress over time, and yet still fall farther and farther behind. Picture the tortoise and the hare: both are moving toward the finish line but there’s a risk the tortoise won’t get there if there’s a time limit — such as high school graduation. IEP teams will often talk about progress without out comparing your child’s progress to others their age or at their grade level.

One way to determine whether your child is making enough progress to catch up or at least keep up is to use a “norm referenced” test and document how your child is doing from year to year. Depending on their disability, different tests should be used. Special Educators often use the Woodcock-Johnson for this purpose. I have used MCAS scores because those are required to be given from year to year and I have access to the data without having to ask.

Demonstrating whether your child’s IEP is targeting the right areas: Recommendations vs. Current IEP Grid

One of my children has complex disabilities that can be subtle at time. His testing often refers to his skills as “vulnerable and variable” — meaning that he has a high capacity in many areas, but his actual functioning may vary significantly based on a number of factors. He has had a LOT of testing, so I have used this grid to break down the specific recommendations of different reports into digestible chunks. Then, I look at his IEP to see if there is a service or accommodation or goal that accomplishes what’s been recommended. This can be used to show that changes to the IEP are needed.

Children with Behavioral and Emotional Challenges: Incident Log

Schools can (and should) do a functional behavioral analysis to determine what might be triggering a child when they struggle to control their behavior. It is very important that a child’s behavior is adequately documented, in order to understand what can help them. Unfortunately, sometimes a school will treat an issue as “misbehavior” when it is actually following a pattern that suggests the child may have a disability such as ADHD, high functioning autism, or even learning disabilities (causing children to try to avoid or get out of doing work that makes them feel ‘stupid.’) This simple log can be used to show that your child is struggling and needs more scaffolding and support than currently being provided — documenting removals from classroom, calls about behavior, and requests for you to pick up your child. Please keep in mind that if your child is being sent home, they are being suspended — and this should be documented as such so that there’s a clear set of evidence to consider when thinking about how to best help the child.

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