Annual review meeting time is here, which means you should prepare now in order to advocate for (or with) your child about next fall’s school placement. Dr. Liz Mathies suggests using these 3 questions to determine what next year’s placement and program should be.
Annual review meeting season is upon us, and it’s time to start thinking about your child’s program for next fall. Based on the information you will be gaining from your child’s teachers, case manager, and related service providers, you and the team will be able to make an assessment of the level of support your child needs across his classes, the type and amount of therapy, as well as supplementary services.
Annual Review Meeting Question #1
Have my child’s goals been achieved? If your child has a pull-out resource program in any of her subjects or has been placed in a self-contained class, goals were established at your last Annual Review meeting. Based on progress reports from the last year, feedback gained during parent-teacher conferences, and your observations, assess if your child has made adequate progress with her goals.
If she has, it may be time to create more challenging goals in particular areas of growth. If your child has not made progress, it may be time to assess why that is the case and decide if your child needs greater support in that particular subject or area of development.
Annual Review Meeting Question #2
Does my child’s program need to be more or less restrictive? Depending on where your child is making progress or needs greater support, this is the time to decide where your child’s academic program needs to be more or less restrictive. In other words, does your child need more or less support in each subject? If your child needs the curriculum to be modified because there is a gap in certain skills, then your child’s program may need to be more restrictive with the help of a pull-out resource program. If your child is needs accommodations but is able to keep up with the general education curriculum, then your child may need a less restrictive program with the help of an in-class resource program, or in-class assistance program.
Annual Review Meeting Question #3
How is my child progressing behaviorally, socially, and emotionally? Although this is not a discussion strictly about academics and homework or the ability to take a test, this area of development is equally as important as the conversation about the type of program your child needs to learn and succeed. In my experience, if a child does not have the emotional stability to manage the demands of being a member of the classroom, receiving academic instruction will be very difficult.
Therefore, this is another very important area for you and your child’s annual review team to assess by asking a few more questions. Is your child able to be in a class with other students of varying skill abilities and still comfortably perform at his level? Is your child able to develop and maintain friendships? How does your child respond to feedback? Is your child able to handle disappointment? Can your child handle a change in the routine without becoming too upset?
Annual review season can be a stressful time of the year as you think about and plan ahead for the next school year. But by assessing your child using these questions, you will be able to make decisions and advocate for your child’s program and related services at the annual review meeting and beyond.
Dr. Liz Matheis is a clinical psychologist and school psychologist in Parsippany, NJ. She offers support, assessments, and advocacy for children who are managing Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities, and behavioral difficulties, as well as their families. She is also a contributor to several popular magazines. Visit www.psychedconsult.com for more information.
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