The IDEA guarantees classified children a free, appropriate public education. “Appropriate” has a legal definition. It means an education that is adequate to meet the child’s unique individual needs that allows a child to make progress and that does not cause a child to regress. Grades are only one indicator of whether a child is making educational progress. Other factors that can be considered. See Bd. of Ed. Hendrick Hudson Cty. v. Rowley, 45 U.S. 176, 203-204, n. 25 (1982). See also 34 CFR 300.101(c)(1), 8 NYCRR 200. 4(c)(5). “Appropriate,” however, doesn’t mean an education that gets a child to do their best. School districts know this standard and passing grades often do not reflect a child’s true achievement – or lack thereof.
Unless a test is objective, it is one area where a false impression of progress can be created. For example, a teacher might ‘find’ credit and give a passing grade to a test filled with mistakes. Homework is another area with potential for grade inflation; a child might hand in incomplete homework or homework that is mostly incorrect and still get credit for the work and, voila, the child gets a passing grade. Whenever possible, keep copies of your child’s work to show how they are REALLY performing. If the school requires you to return work, take a picture of the document that includes the date and time. A cell phone is useful for this purpose. Alternatively, you could scan the document and send it to yourself in an email. Written communication with your child’s teachers also provides the information if the concern are in areas that assessments don’t measure. Communicate with your child’s teacher by email whenever possible. School is starting soon: start keeping records from the very first day!