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School Psychologist Fields Parents' Queries

Parents and guest expert, Gina Robuck, discuss IEP goals, testing, writing skills, and other issues involved in raising kids with learning disabilities.

By GreatSchools Staff

Gina Robuck, M. Ed., is a former school psychologist, as well as an advocate and parent. She is the author of two articles on our website: one on raising teacher awareness about LD and AD/HD, and another on assessing progress on IEP goals.

This conversation about evaluation, IEP goals, and related topics, between Ms. Robuck and parents of children with learning and attention problems originally took place in 2006 on the parent message board hosted by Schwab Learning, formerly a program of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, from 2000 to 2007. Because the topic is timeless, we feel readers will find much that is useful and important for their own parenting challenges.

From the broad range of conversations during the week, five topics have been selected that provide a sampling of these interesting discussions.

What kind of information should I provide to an independent evaluator?

nervmom asks:

If you are seeking an independent evaluation, what information would be helpful, for example, classroom work, assessments from school or report cards? Some people advise nothing in order to obtain a clear, unbiased picture, while others feel the more information the better.

From: G. Robuck

In my opinion, the more information the better. If I were personally doing an independent evaluation I would request samples of work as well as copies of the child's special education and regular education records - evaluation reports, progress reports, IEP's, etc. as well as report cards, and group administered test scores, health record, attendance. In my opinion, all this information is very important in uncovering the mystery of why the student is having learning/behavioral difficulties and it also helps clarify the student's learning issues as well as potential educational needs. I just don't think any evaluator can give a parent a clear, unbiased picture based on little to no information, let alone specific and appropriate recommendations.

How can I figure out if my son is learning at HIS grade level?

henleys4 asks:
My son is in 7th grade learning about plates shifting and causing earthquakes, etc. My daughter is in 5th grade and is learning the same thing. How can I know that my son is learning at HIS grade level? Or do 5th graders touch on this stuff, and then learn it more in depth in later grades? Should I be concerned?

From: Mayleng

Hens, my 4th grader and 7th grader, seem to be learning the same topics as well. 7th just learns it more in-depth and their tests are more difficult where they may have to venture an opinion, write more explanations etc. Both were learning the Revolutionary War in Social Studies. 4th grader has to learn the key points that's all.

From: mmhm

Hens, It is referred to as a spiral curriculum - the idea that as the subjects come round again they are done at a different level. Although most 5th graders study American History they are not expected to achieve the depth and detail that a highschooler would. If you are concerned that the curriculum is not working well - check the grade level standards. Occasionally you will find a badly articulated curriculum where kids do dinosaurs or the solar system over and over. But in this era of state standards and state testing, it's less likely.

From: G. Robuck

Hi Hens
Mayleng and mmhm also provided good information as well. My suggestion is to get a copy of curriculum guides/expectations/standards (whatever they call it) for 7th grade students from the public school. Should you be concerned? Well, I certainly can't say no. In my experience with the kinds of educational settings your son is in, they do not cover the same curriculum content a regular education class would. Curriculum is most often presented at a slower pace with less depth and classwork/homework. But, you know I think your son should be in a regular education environment with appropriate support.