Q: My daughter is in grade 4 and needs extra help in math right now. Her teacher recognizes it as well, and is requesting formal diagnostic testing. My concern is two fold 1) Given that my daughter has no pre-existing issues, such as ADD etc – is IEP the right program for her? 2) What if they decide she does not qualify for IEP after the testing is complete – what are the other options to get my daughter extra help? Archana R.
These are great questions. The good news is that the teacher is aware of your daughter’s challenges, and is working hard to make sure she gets the extra help she needs.
First of all, it’s important to know that it’s possible for your daughter to get extra help even if she doesn’t have a formal special education identification. A teacher, and/or a school team (usually the classroom teacher, the principal or vice-principal and the special education resource teacher) can decide a student needs some extra support. Then the teacher, in cooperation with the parent, writes up an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
An IEP should include:
- A list of the student’s strengths and needs;
- An outline of the special education services the student will receive, where and when the services will be provided and who will provide them;
- A description of how the student’s progress will be measured and reviewed;
- A set of goals for the student and teacher to work toward over the year; and
- A list of any special equipment to be provided.
The formal testing that the teacher is suggesting is to determine if your daughter does have an underlying condition that would qualify her for special education support. Some learning disabilities are not obvious on the surface, but may be identified in the testing process.
Once she has been tested, the next step may be an IPRC (Identification, Placement, Review Committee) meeting. You will be invited to this meeting, and it is important that you go. The purpose of the meeting will be to go over the results of her test and identify what support she needs. For more information about this process, please see the answer to What is an IPRC?
Even if the testing shows that your daughter does not have a learning disability, there are still a number of things that can be done to help:
- the school may have a program such as a homework club for students who need extra help. These clubs are usually supervised by a teacher who can provide help when needed
- your local community centre or public library may also have homework support programs that you can take advantage of
- you can look into using a tutor to give your daughter extra help. Private tutors can be expensive, but there are some other alternatives – the local high school may have students who can tutor her and earn volunteer hours at the same time, or you may have a friend or neighbour who can help.