What are the IDEA requirements regarding IEP goal progress reports?
An IEP must include information as to “[w]hen periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided.” [34 C.F.R. § 300.320(a)(3)(ii)]
Is it sufficient for a school to provide IEP goal progress reports that include general statements that the student demonstrated improvement or that he/she made some progress, limited progress, or significant progress?
An IEP goal progress report is not merely an administrative hoop to jump through or a meaningless paperwork requirement of the IDEA. These periodic progress reports fulfill a central focus of the IDEA, namely that parents have sufficient information to meaningfully participate in IEP meetings. Vague statements of progress provide no objective measure of a student’s progress and do not meaningfully communicate with parents or demonstrate that the school actually provided the student with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Guidance from Exceptional Student Services (ESS) is that IEP goal progress reports need to provide “sufficient information for the parents/staff to project whether or not the student will achieve his/her goals by the end of the IEP year . . . [and that] information should be provided for each goal, and the rate of progress should be reported in a manner consistent with the [present levels of academic achievement and functional progress] and/or the associated goals.” [Arizona Examining Practices Manual 2014-2015, ADE/ESS, p. 29]
Can report cards indicate that a student receives special education?
Yes. A report card is sent to a student’s parents, and it would not be a violation of the student’s privacy rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to include with progress information the fact that the student receives special education instruction and services. Nor would such disclosure violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Title II) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Report cards can “distinguish between special education programs and services and general education curriculum classes . . . if the course content or curriculum in the special education programs or services is different from the course content or curriculum contained in the general education curriculum classes. [Schools] frequently distinguish between general education curriculum classes and other types of programs and classes, such as advanced placement, honors, or remedial classes. Making similar distinctions on report cards would be consistent with the general requirements of Section 504 and Title II that individuals with disabilities not be treated differently than individuals without disabilities.” [Dear Colleague Letter: Report Cards and Transcripts for Students with Disabilities (OCR October 17, 2008); Letter to Hudler: Response to Report Card and Transcript Questions (OCR 2006)] Similarly, a school can use asterisks, symbols or other coding on a report card to indicate that the student had a modified curriculum and different course content. [Id.]
Can a transcript indicate that a student receives special education?
No. Transcripts can be sent to a student’s postsecondary school or a prospective employer, and “it would be a violation of Section 504 and Title II [of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)] for a student’s transcript to indicate that a student has received special education or a related services or that the student has a disability. While a transcript may not disclose that a student has received special education or a related service or has a disability, a transcript may indicate that a student took classes with a modified or alternate education curriculum. This is consistent with the transcript’s purpose of informing postsecondary institutions and prospective employers of a student’s academic achievements. Transcript notations concerning enrollment in different classes, course content, or curriculum by students with disabilities would be consistent with any similar transcript designation for classes, such as advanced placement, honors, or remedial instruction . . . [and] notations about modified or alternate education curriculum are permissible because they do not disclose that a student has a disability, are not used exclusively to identify programs for student with disabilities, and are consistent with the purpose of a student transcript.” [Dear Colleague Letter: Report Cards and Transcripts for Students with Disabilities (OCR October 17, 2008); Letter to Hudler: Response to Report Card and Transcript Questions (OCR 2006)]
Can a school email IEP goal progress reports and IEPs to the parents of a student eligible for special education?
“Under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the implementing regulations, parents may elect to receive prior written notices, procedural safeguards notices, and due process complaint notices by an electronic mail communication, if the public agency makes that option available. [34 C.F.R. § 300.505] . . . Further, with regards to the requirement under 34 C.F.R. § 300.320(a)(3)(ii) concerning periodic progress reports, OSEP has left the discretion with State and local officials to determine the manner and format for reporting a child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals. [71 Federal Register at 46664] Therefore, in light of the IDEA statute and regulations, as well as OSEP’s prior guidance, States may permit the use of electronic mail to distribute IEPs and related documents, such as progress reports, to parents, provided that the parents and the school district agree to use the electronic mail option, and the States take the necessary steps to ensure that there are appropriate safeguards to protect the integrity of the process.” [Letter to Breton, 114 LRP 14938 (OSEP March 2014)