IEP Goals and Regression
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Regression is a concerning problem that parents may not be aware of, let alone realize it’s impacting their learner. In school terms, it’s when a student seems to have forgotten what they may have learned previously and is unable to recoup said skills after a couple of weeks of instruction. This typically shows up during longer breaks like summer, winter holidays, and spring break.
Learners in special needs classrooms seem to be more susceptible to this and special education teachers should be tracking data to determine how much of a loss the student has over each break. Also, how quickly they can pick it back up is critical as well. I had a student that was GREAT at math facts. However, the first year I had him, I hadn’t seen any signs of regression so there was nothing established for him to maintain his knowledge base. The following fall, he couldn’t remember the majority of them but he picked them up again really quickly.
Data from the IEP goals should determine how the student is progressing. Let me be clear, sped teachers should ALWAYS be tracking data. If your progress report (or the present level section of your IEP) doesn’t have current data, you need to be asking why.
Goals should be written very specifically with only one item for each goal. So they should not say, “Tonya will be working on multiplying and dividing two-digit numbers.” Those are two different data sets that will have to be tracked accordingly. The goals should also be measurable, for example,
“In 36 instructional weeks, Tonya will match the numbers 1-20, in an array of 3, in 4 out of 5 trials with 70% accuracy.” This way, if your child may not achieve their goals, teachers and staff will be able to easily assess whether there needs to be a new ARD called to amend the goals.
Learners in self-contained units will also have objectives. These are quarterly goals that help build-up to the yearly goal. For the example stated above, objectives would look like this: “By the end of the first quarter, Tonya will match numbers 1-5, in an array of 2, in 4 out of 5 trials with 80% accuracy,” and “By the end of the second quarter, Tonya will match numbers 1-10 in an array of 2, in 4 out of 5 trials with 70% accuracy.” Lastly, “By the end of the third quarter, Tonya will match numbers 1-15 in an array of 3 with 70% accuracy.”
If your child is showing signs of regression, don’t panic. There are options for you! First, and probably easiest, is to ask the teacher for materials to practice over the breaks. They probably have resources through the district that are already paid for, so you don’t have to. If they don’t have anything for you, just check the dollar stores and Target’s Dollar Spot. Those stores usually have great options for cheap educational items. And I’m sure you can always find something on Amazon, but Pinterest and Teacherspayteacher are fabulous resources as well.
If your child prefers screentime, then there are tons of apps that you can search through. Here are a few teacher staples: Splashlearn, Prodigy, and Xtramath are great math resources for free that are appropriate for first grade and up in math (Splashlearn may have a kindergarten level). Some free apps for the younger learners are ABCmouse, ABCya, and Starfall.
Another option is for Extended School Year (ESY). This is data-driven, so your child’s school will usually let you know if they are eligible. They have benchmarks throughout the year to see how your learner has recouped any lost skills. They should inform you of this and add those services through, you guessed it, an IEP/ARD meeting. But if you are seeing something that concerns you, then don’t be afraid to ask!
Keep in mind, this is based on my experience in Texas. Each student is unique and needs goals specified to their learning style and needs. If you are in a different state, go to your state’s (or district’s) governing body of education, and search for their goal requirements. If you can’t find it, someone that’s a part of your IEP/ARD committee should be able to help you.