Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Educational Advocacy Series: Part Four

CCAKidsBlog.org is pleased to announce that Paula Guzzo, CCA Board Member and Past Chair, is writing a series in October dealing with Educational Advocacy. This post is Part Four in our October Series. Please also check out Part OnePart Two, and Part Three.

Paula, Bob, Aaron and Scott on a
Celebration Cruise for Scott's Graduation

While working numerous years as an InSource Regional Program Specialist, Sycamore Services Transition Coordinator, and Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) Special Education Department Coordinator of Parent Supports, and later--EVSC Family Engagement Coordinator at the alternative school, my focus was on helping parents to become A) informed and B) equal participants in their child’s educational process.  A previous entry discussed informed. This one focuses on equal. One of the best recommendations I ever received or gave was to write and present a Parent Report. This suggestion came in 1994 from fellow a Hoosier advocate, Pat Howey (www.pathowey.com), as Bob and I were preparing for our son, Scott, to be have his placement changed from a segregated classroom for students with multiple disabilities to a general education setting at our neighborhood school. After Pat noted that everyone except the parent typically presents a report at case conferences, we were convinced to prepare our own Parent Report.
With Pat’s guidance and the help of a dear friend who was also writing parent reports for her children, Bob and I wrote our first Parent Report for that very important case conference which included 19 people and lasted 11 hours over 2 days. We continued to prepare and present a Parent Report at all of Scott’s conferences. At my encouragement, numerous parents have prepared a Parent Report for their own child. The time needed to prepare the first report can seem daunting. Future years’ Parent Reports will be much easier as the initial report can simply be updated. The report will serve as a history of your child’s progress. The presentation of a Parent Report will also aid in developing clear, measurable, and observable Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) Goals and objectives based on your child’s strengths and challenges.

Scott Performing in Godspell in 2002
Parent Report
Why? How do you prepare? What is included?

Parents are important:
  • Parents are generally the only permanency throughout a child’s entire life
  • Schools only provide services until a student is 22

School Personnel Should Value a Parent Report:
  • Parents provide a wealth of information
  • Parents know more about their child than anyone else
  • Parents know the child’s abilities in a variety of settings, not just school
  • Parents were the child’s first teacher
  • Parents are more efficient in conferences if a report is prepared
  • Parents and school can better focus on the child’s needs
  • Parents take an active role in their child’s education

What is a Parent Report?
  • It expresses the parents’ knowledge, understanding, concerns, hopes, dreams, and intents for the child’s future
  • It is direct and to the point
  • It gives school personnel a document with information they would not easily have otherwise
  • It is always written. Then, you should verbally present it at the case conference committee meeting along with school personnel who present their reports. Written copies should be handed out and included in the committee report. NOTE: It can be productive to provide the report to the conference coordinator for distribution in advance of the conference.

Prepare for the Parent Report (NOTE: This section relies heavily on good record keeping—the topic of my next blog entry)
  • Gather notes from previous meetings
  • Gather your child’s previous IEPs
  • Gather reports from service providers
  • Gather report cards, school reports, evaluations & assessments, and test scores
  • Gather medical information (diagnosis, vision, hearing, speech, mobility, diet, therapies, genetic testing, diseases, allergies, heat intolerance, personal care)
  • Gather information about your child’s activities other than school (Scouts, church, youth leagues, etc.)
  • Think about your and your child’s hopes and dreams for school and beyond

What are Your Child’s Present Levels of Performance in Every Area of Their Life?
  • Home
  • Community
  • Leisure and recreation
  • Academics
  • Daily living activities
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Social and emotional levels

What are Your Child’s Strengths?
  • Academic
  • Social/emotional
  • Verbal and written communication abilities
  • Athletic abilities
  • Likes/dislikes
  • Personality
  • Leisure/recreational
  • Fine/gross motor skills
  • Daily living skills
  • Unique skills

What are Your Child’s Challenges?
  • Academic
  • Social/emotional
  • Verbal and written communication abilities
  • Athletic abilities
  • Likes/dislikes
  • Personality
  • Leisure/recreational
  • Fine/gross motor skills
  • Daily living skills
  • Unique skills

What Supports Are Needed to Help Your Child Overcome Challenges (to “level the playing field” for the disability)? Including your thoughts about supports in your Parent Report will let school personnel know of your expectations.

 §Modifications/Adaptations (adjustment to an assignment or a test that changes the standard or what the test or assignment is supposed to measure)

/Adaptations examples:
§  Manipulatives
§  Alternatives such as posters instead of written reports
§  Assignments that are “chunked”
§  Assignments that are shortened
§  Use of a computer
§  Use of a calculator
§  Voice activated or touch software
§  Braille instruction
§  Enlarged type
§  Textbooks on tape
§  Adaptive or adapted physical education

 § Accommodations (allows a student to complete the same assignment or test as other students, but with a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation without significantly altering what the test or assignment measures)

§  Written or oral instructions
§  Study sheets
§  Note taker or scribe
§  Text books that are highlighted
§  Textbooks on tape
§  Frequent breaks
§  Dictate answers
§  Extended time for assignments
§  Extended time for testing
§  Oral testing
§  No timed tests

  • Assistive Technology
Assistive technology examples:
§  Writing instruments
§  Communication boards
§  Communication devices
§  Computers
§  Word processors

  • Related Services
Related Services examples:
§  Therapies (OT, PT, Speech, Music, etc.)
§  Paraprofessional/Aide (part time or full time)
§  Transportation (special equipment, ramps, short route)
§  Transition services (vocational, aptitude, and ability assessments)
§  Counseling (for the student, other students, or parents)
§  Administration of medicines

Scott & Paula at Scott's HS Prom.
(Mom was a chaperon!)

There will be one final post in the series, so please check back next week. 


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