Resources for Parents
PALS is committed to developing resources to help parents support their children's learning. Here, you can find free printable downloads to help you create a learning notebook for your child's evaluations and other data. You can also find links to other websites where parents of children adopted internationally can find information about what to expect when adopting internationally, unique learning needs, and the services offered by public schools. PALS is not responsible for content on these other sites, nor is a link to a site meant as an endorsement for any one method or product.
New! Free Printables for your child's Learning Notebook!
What is a Learning Notebook? Glad you asked! It's a simple tool for organizing all the evaluations, communication, data, IEP meeting notes, invitations, and the pile of paperwork that threatens to bury any parent of a child with special learning needs. You can use a Learning Notebook to quickly track evaluation data and dates, learning goals, and communication. It can be an invaluable resource when you're trying to measure your child's progress in a targeted area or when you're in the middle of an IEP meeting and a question comes up about annual goals. Check back here often--we'll be adding a new printable every week or two as we build this resource for parents!
This handy .pdf (click here) helps you track who provided what evaluation of your child and when. Placed at the beginning of your Learning Notebook's "Evaluations" section, it provides an at-a-glance index of your child's significant assessments: the initial evaluation, psycho-educational evaluation, language evaluation, ESL assessment, etc. This is not the space for assessments during the year that serve to measure progress toward annual goals or RTI scores.
The first column is for the test's name--for example, WISC IV, CELF V, or Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale. Use an asterisk to mark evaluations you've funded out of pocket, a plus sign for Independent Educational Evaluations provided at public school expense, and no mark for assessments provided by the school. Behavior scales and assessments that require you to complete a portion at home can include your initials.
The second column, "Evaluator," is great for names, but be sure you also include the professional's title. You'll remember it this year, if you're lucky, but next spring? Maybe not so much!
The "Date" column is important--make sure you note the date of completion listed on the evaluation, not the date of the IEP meeting where you discussed it or the date you received a copy. Schools don't release a full copy of an evaluation to parents, as most of these tools have a copyright, but they should provide parents with a report that includes an overall score, as well as scores for subtests or subsections. The report should clearly indicate whether a number is a raw score, scaled score, t-score, or other. As a rule of thumb, data older than one year isn't a reliable source on which to base decision-making for services, but most schools don't re-evaluate more often than every three years.
The last column is where you want to indicate whether this is the first such evaluation for your child, or if it's a re-evaluation, simply with an "I" or an "R". This can be helpful if you're interested in tracking progress from one re-evaluation to the next, and when combined with the "Date", can let you see at a glance which assessments should be completed toward your child's minimum triennial re-evalution.
Important! Your child should never have a change in or discontinuation of special education or related services without your informed consent--this means that before any changes are made to the IEP or learning services, the team should provide you with assessment data that forms the basis for their recommendation. You can always ask your child's team, if they're proposing a change in services, what data their decision is based on and how it compares to previous scores. And because any evaluation is part of your child's education record, you reserve the right to look at the scores and to request a copy.
Helpful sites for additional information on learning, behavior, and special education rights
Center for Cognitive and Developmental Assessment and Remediation
New York-based psychologist Dr. Boris Gindis has devoted his career to working with children adopted internationally, understanding their unique learning needs, and conducting research. His site provides a wealth of information, including how to prepare for learning needs before adoption, assessments, and transition planning. He also offers phone consultations and in-office visits.
Empowered to Connect
Begun by developmental psychologist Dr. Karyn Purvis, ETC provides hope for parents of children from backgrounds of trauma, abuse, and neglect, building on her landmark book, "The Connected Child." Here, you'll find books, curricula for group studies, videos, and information about ETC conferences, all designed to empower parents to connect and attach to their fostered and adopted children. Their featured video series, "10 Questions Adoptive Parents Ask," is outstanding.
Wrightslaw was created by attorney Pete Wright and his wife, psychologist Pam Wright, to provide reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. The site is constantly updated and offers a newsletter, books, and information about Pete's training workshops for parents, attorneys, advocates, and educators.