Statistics and charts are standard fare at an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. The teachers and professionals are likely to show you where your child is performing relative to the standard for his/her grade and relative to where he/she used to be. Parents are usually happy to see their child making improvement. But is that enough?
Next time, ask to see your child’s data compared to the overall trend for students in the school. Why? Because improvement is great, but it may not be the best measure of your child’s path in his/her academic career.
Looking at some recent research from a school, I came away with a new insight. If your child is making progress but the rate of progress is not keeping up with the pace at which a student is supposed to progress during a school year, he or she will remain standing still (or even losing ground) compared to his/her classmates. If your student is currently behind in reading comprehension or math skills, and nothing the school is doing to help your child is any different from what they were doing in previous interventions, then the rate of change and improvement will always be about the same and your child may never “catch up” to where they should be. This gap actually may increase as your child moves to higher grades where the content becomes increasingly more important and they build upon previous learning.
The faculty and staff who participate in your child’s IEP may not know immediately what to do if there is evidence that the gap is widening. But having a clear understanding of whether the gap is closing or not is an important first step.