Guest Post: Tracking Your Child's Progress in School

January 14, 2016

By Jill Calian, Calian & Gross, LLP

All parents expect their children to make progress in school. For parents of children with Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs), this question takes on additional importance. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, school districts are required to provide a “free appropriate public education” (“FAPE”) to all children who qualify for special education. Courts have interpreted FAPE to mean that schools must provide some educational benefit. In determining whether a child is receiving this benefit, courts will look to whether the student is making progress.

If your child has an IEP, you should receive periodic Progress Reports describing your child’s advancement toward his/her IEP goals. In our special education law practice, we often observe that these progress reports paint an overly sunny portrait of student progress. We also see students with special needs who receive stellar report card grades despite questionable academic performance.

So what should you do if you have doubts about your child’s progress? There are two basic approaches to getting to the bottom of this issue. First, you can scrutinize the evaluative data that the school has collected, focusing on the pattern of your child’s scores on standardized tests over time. Secondly, you can obtain independent evaluative data by consulting with private providers (tutors/therapists) or procuring a comprehensive neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation of your child. Both methods provide a valuable “check and balance” on the school’s appraisal of your child’s progress.

To read more about these two approaches and learn how to get started, click here.

Jill Calian, a member of the Center for Independent Futures Board of Directors, is a partner at Calian & Gross, LLP. Based in Evanston, the law firm is dedicated to helping students with special needs obtain the educational services to which they are entitled under law. To learn more about Calian & Gross and the personalized support they provide, visit their website at



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