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Expert Q&A

My daughter’s interventions have been altered based on her good grades, but she still needs help. What should I do?

My daughter is in sixth grade, and I have a problem with her school. She was diagnosed with dyslexia back in 2006. She was getting a lot of assistance with her reading last year through Section 504, and she did fairly well. This year the committee decided to remove some of the modifications based solely on her grades.

Last year she would get 1 hour and 15 minutes per day for both her interventions. Now she is getting 30 minutes a day for the Herman Method 4 times a week (if the teacher is not absent), and 45 minutes a week for the Reading 180. On top of that, the interventions that she is getting right now are being done by instructors who are not qualified to be giving them to her. I told them that the reason she had been doing so well last year is because of the assistance that she had been getting — the amount and from qualified teachers. My daughter’s grade level of reading right now is third grade three month; they seem to think that is okay even though she’s now in the sixth grade. What should I do?


Dear Maria:

First, the requirement for “highly qualified” teachers does not automatically mean that they must be fully trained in a particular teaching technique. However, these programs generally explain what level of training is needed to do them correctly. In addition, the special education law requires that schools use research-based programs to the extent practicable. Generally, the research based programs are based on carrying them out in a way that is consistent with how they were designed to be carried out (including by teachers with adequate training).

Schools should not change or reduce services without first conducting an evaluation to verify that what they are doing is correct. Evaluations are required before significant changes are made to a Section 504 plan as well. From your description, though, your child may actually be eligible for special education services through an IEP. If your child is reading three years below grade level, the school needs to justify why reducing, rather than increasing services, is appropriate. There would be an argument that they need to be doing more, not less.

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