Questions Every Parent Should Ask to Learn More About Their Child’s School

BERARDBy: Amy Berard – November, 2015

1. How often is the SpEd (Special Education) teacher in the inclusion classroom?

At an IEP meeting, parents will be notified if their child is in an inclusion class. A class is labeled as an inclusion class when a SpEd teacher is pushing in to provide extra support for students on IEPs (Individual Education Plans – legally binding SpEd documents created in collaboration with general education teachers, parents, a school psychologist, and a SpEd teacher).

How do you find this out?

You can ask the school representatives this at your child’s next IEP meeting. Be certain to learn the name of the SpEd teacher assigned to push into your child’s inclusion classroom. The most reliable way to find this out is to ask your child how often he or she sees this SpEd teacher in the classroom.

Why is this question a good question to ask? Sadly, some schools and districts use their SpEd teachers to provide coverage for substitutes. Other times, schools have an inadequate number of SpEd teachers for the population of children on IEPs. This results in SpEd teachers not being able to be present often in the inclusion classrooms.
If you have a child on an IEP, your child is best served by you, as a parent, following up with teachers to make sure that each teacher is not only aware of the specific IEP modifications for your child, but also that the IEP modifications are being implemented and followed.

2. What is the testing schedule for the school year?

This includes not only the days set aside for MCAS, but also the days set aside for practice standardized tests and for programs your child’s school may contract to simulate the MCAS. Some schools have a contract with standardized testing companies such as iready, and ANet.

How do you find this out?

You can ask your school administration or your child’s teacher. The most reliable way to find this out is to ask your child. If you child is old enough, he or she can tell you how often they take mock standardized tests.
Why is this question an important question to ask?

It gives you a good picture of the actual number of true instructional days your child has. It provides parents with an idea of just how much the school teaches testing as opposed to actual joy-filled, child-centered instruction.
Many students that are labeled ELL (English Language Learners) and students on IEPs experience a good deal of frustration during these testing periods because these tests are not modified for their ability levels. Frequently, these students finish early and are left to sit at their desks silently while the other students finish. Time taking standardized tests is often time that the academic needs of many students are not supported. While all this time testing provides students with ample practice on test taking strategies and procedures, it comes at the expense of actual teaching and learning. Therefore, it’s important to know just how much time is allotted for this within a school year.