Report Card.

I haven’t seen many posts by people about their child’s report card.  Well, guess what?  Here’s one now.   Yesterday, the little kindergartener got his second report card.  Here’s a summary of how it all went down.

The grading system key is this:

4 = “Consistently above Standard”

3 = “Meeting Standard”

2 = “Making progress toward Standard”

1 = “Making minimum progress toward Standard”

x = “Not evaluated at this time.”

This is the same report card all the other students in his class received.  And if I have not outright said it before, Toots is the only autistic in his class.  Every other child in his class is neurotypical.

My son can read.  We all know it.  He’s been doing it for years.  And so it shows on the report card – all 4s – “consistently above standard”.  (Of course, I’m going to talk about the good stuff first.  I’m his mommy!!)  He received 4s for identifying his upper and lower case letters, vowel and consonant sounds, rhyming, discriminating between sounds and understanding “concepts of print” (left to right, spacing, word, top to bottom), and sequencing story events with pictures.

His writing standards all met standards except for his printing which improved from a 2 to a 3, consistent with what I have seen over this school year.  In numbers (math) he met standards (3s) and exceeded standards (4s).

The lowest grade he received was a 2 – making progress toward standard.   Here are the areas in which he got it:

Retells a story

Recites poems/chants/repetitive patterns (unless of his choosing I assume…)

Expresses ideas in front of a group

Communicates findings and observations

Demonstrates good sportsmanship

Actively participates in activities

Observes and compares

Follows oral directions

Uses appropriate listening skills.

There were 53 total categories.

Of those, he has trouble with the 9 above. Six of the 9 require communication skills.  What a surprise, eh?  Three more require attention skills.  Again, surprise!

So, my ASD son is expected to “recite”, “retell” “express” and “communicate”, all socially, cognitive goals.  What to do… Do I want a special accommodation, such as a “modified curriculum” for him in this regard?  Do I want a “pass” due to his disability?

Maybe someday in the future, he will need an accommodation to further his education.    At this point, with a full time tutor prompting him in class and working programs with him, that’s accommodation enough.  We too, are learning.  We are learning his learning style.  We are learning where his weaknesses lie, in a neurotypical world.

In smoothing the ground to lay the foundation and framework for his educational future, I can see where there the hard ground lies.  I wonder whether we can use hand tools or need C4 to dynamite through the obstacles.  That will take time to figure out.

In getting this post ready, I read a post by one mom who felt that the data from her son’s second grade report card gave her very little to really judge his academic achievement.  All she saw was that the school found some way of testing him that amplified his lack of attention or motivation to respond.

I think my son is lucky in a couple of ways.  First, at least currently, my son is in a classroom of 14 children.  The teachers (2 of them) know and understand him.  They know where his strengths and weaknesses lie.  They accurately report those, making his level of understanding and comprehension easy to see.  The second is that the report card provides a rather obvious map of where his deficits lie, consistent with his diagnosis.

Yes, easy to spot, not so easy to improve.  The clear path is toward ABA programs to target teaching these skills.  And as has been recommended to me previously, but which I somehow let slide… is the ILAUGH Model of Social Cognition which you too, can find here.   I can neither recommend it nor not recommend it yet.  It just seems like a good idea.   Hopefully, by the end of the year, I can report to you a final report to me, of the little guy moving toward improvement with social and attention related goals.

How about your child?  Are report cards accurate for you?  Do you ask for a modified curriculum as part of your IEP?  Is your child’s performance gauged by NTs, individually, or some other way?  And, if you homeschool, how do you monitor your child’s progress? I hope you will share in the comments.  Don’t make me start another meme, people.  You know I’ll do it…


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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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23 Responses to Report Card.

  1. I think its a great report card! Like you said, you’re all still learning HIS style of learning. The fact that he’s able to do this in an all typical classroom is quite impressive. Further, it sounds like you have a great team working with him. My motto (well, one of them) is, if it’s not broke, then don’t fix it. Let him continue to show you his way. You’ll know if/when the time comes that special accommodations will be needed. 🙂

  2. nikki says:

    This was an interesting read. My son is still in preschool (and because of his very late birthday, probably will be next year too) so I don’t have any report card experience yet. But I could almost guarantee that his would look just like your son’s. I’ve thought about this a lot…what it will be like once he’s expected to keep up with his peers in areas that he just can’t. I’m also very suspicious about school curriculum. “Uses appropriate listening skills.” What does that mean? My son often retains information that he hears during moments when it looks like he’s completely in his own world and not paying attention. I really feel like schools need to start teaching to the students, and not to the test. And that goes for NT students too.

    • nikki says:

      Oh, and also, I agree with Rhonda….I think that’s a pretty impressive report card. I would be very proud.

    • solodialogue says:

      You know Nikki, I have the same experience with my son when he is in another world and looks like he is not following what is going on and then 2 minutes or 2 hours later, he will let you know he heard and absorbed every word so “using” appropriate listening skills is very biased toward NTs, isn’t it? I could look someone right in the eye and nod and not hear a word they’re saying… but they’d think I did and give me a “good grade” for it… Keen observation!

      You are going to be a great advocate with the school for your son so those future kindergarten teachers better watch out! 😉

  3. Hi. A while back I wrote this … http://lifeonthejtrain.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/report-cards/ . What I didn’t say in that post is that his report also said things like “Jay said “I like trains” I know there’s no way my son said anything so that report was not only hard to understand, it was down right inaccurate. After getting that report, I had a meeting with my sons teacher, therapists and coordinator to discuss my disappointment with the way his reports are made up. They basically told me that they are mandated to use a template that is not ideal for special ed kids so they do the best they can with in. After an hour, the only thing I could get them to do as a compromise was to send home periodic notes about what and how he’s doing in class. Kind of like a daily log but it’s not everyday. I’m still not happy with what we get but it’s something. I’m hoping that once he’s out of pre-k and I switch him to a different school for kindergarten I will get more of what I need for him. As far as accommodations go, my autie son gets a few but he’s in a self-contained class so all the kids get accommodations in terms of getting more time to do things and getting more help from the teachers to finish their tasks. My NT (soon to be adhd) son who is in kindergarten, gets accommodations that allow him to move around more than the other kids and he gets fidget toys to play with during story and library time. It has helped and his latest report has reflected it. I hope that helped and wasn’t too long and babbly.

    • solodialogue says:

      That was an interesting post. Thanks for sharing it here. It is so different from my experience and it makes me again – grateful to have that full time ABA tutor in with my son on a daily basis. That a school would think it would “ok” not to let parents know that a speech therapist is gone for two months is inexcusable! Sometimes, I think we are bound to have bad experiences with personnel within the educational system. Luckily, I’ve only had that with administrators so far – (knock on wood). The teachers and therapists have all been well-meaning and honest with me even if their ability to understand and teach my child varies.

      Right now, I’m fine with the tutor. We have a good group of people, kids and teachers who work with my son and honestly give me feedback daily. The trouble is always going to be with his differences from the NTs and whether or not those who teach and work with my son will understand those differences, help him compensate with his strengths and accept him for who he is.

  4. eof737 says:

    Tootles did great! It’s been a long while now so memories of primary school report cards are long gone… 🙂

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks Elizabeth! I have vague recollections of getting these numerical reports until 3rd grade. My mom used to make a huge deal out of report cards so that little tidbit has always stuck with me. 😉

  5. Melissa says:

    That IS a pretty impressive report card.

    My daughter is still in preschool, and will be next year as well, though I don’t know exactly what her placement will be yet… still working on that. We don’t really get report cards, though we get progress reports three times per year. Those are based on her individual IEP goals, so as much as they tell you about her progress, they don’t give a huge amount of information. Once per year, they do actual evaluations (whereas in EI, it used to be done twice per year with reports another 2 times in between… and it was done at home and at school… covering all the bases). I’ve only gotten one eval back so far, and it both was and wasn’t an accurate assessment of her skills. She does more on a day to day basis than the testing gives her credit for. However because of the nature of the testing (questions asked very specifically, no prompting) and her communication difficulties and the specific things that they test for… she tests low. In a special ed school, in a special ed classroom, with the right supports, she does very well…. growing every day… with NT peers, who are also growing every day (though I doubt their parents even know how much), the dichotomy becomes much more obvious… language based play gets too fast and confounds.

    I think she is where she needs to be, no question. Where she’ll be next year? The year after? I’ve given up trying to predict. I just read those evals with a glass of wine!

    • solodialogue says:

      Ooh, reading those evals with a glass of wine sounds like a plan! 😉

      I remember wondering about the big unknown “school” when my son was still in pre-k class. We did not have EI so I never got those kind of reports. For what it’s worth, as my son got older, he was better able to communicate his responses and thus, his “scoring” improved. I know about the NT peers, the feeling their parents just don’t recognize the tremendous gift of progress, and the widening dichotomy. But really, when you look beyond surface responses, eye contact, and “talking” our kids are growing too. They just do it differently. 🙂

      • Melissa says:

        Isn’t it? I got that suggestion from a therapist during one of her initial evals! One of the best recommendations I’ve ever gotten I think! 🙂

        I think you’re absolutely right… the phrase “different not less” is coming to mind at the moment.

  6. blogginglily says:

    Sounds like he did great!

  7. Teresa says:

    I expect most of your readers have younger children. Still, I thought you might be interested in some changes at the high school level here in Arizona.
    It used to be that a parent with a special needs child could expect the child to remain in school through age 21 if desired. My friend with a soon to be 18 year old found out that, in some districts, things have changed. Arizona, like many states, has gone to using a standardized test requirement for graduation. You wouldn’t think it would affect kids with IEP’s but in some cases it has. Children with an IEP can be given a modified standardized test. Once that test is passed and the child gets enough credits he will graduate. It does not matter that the child is not prepared to go out in the world, get a job, or go to college. The modified test allows the school district to graduate the child.
    My friend thought her daughter would still have three years in high school before needing to find a new program. (Her daughter has severe autism and aggression.) But last fall she was told daughter meets all the requirements for graduation and will be finished in May.
    I pray that all of your children will meet graduation requirements on their own merit and move on to become productive adults in society. Of course, you should push the school to meet your child’s needs, whether higher or lower than his peers. But look carefully at social promotions. As your children grow older be wary of accepting modifications.
    There is never an easy answer just know you are your child’s best advocate.

    • solodialogue says:

      This is sage advice. Truly, when a child is promoted, that is one less year of funding required for that child that can be allocated to another. Pushing a child who is not ready through to the next grade does no one but the bean counters any good. What is happening in Arizona is a shame. I wonder what is on that “modified” test that allows this to happen. What “skills” are considered adequate to give one that diploma? Thanks for that reminder, Teresa.

  8. Lisa says:

    Sounds like a solid report card, all-in-all. I hope he is as proud as you are..he worked hard!

    Tate is in “instructional” kindergarten, which is self-contained special ed. His report card is the same as the regular ed kids’…but we get an addendum page and IEP goal update summary with his. It’s a little annoying, but allows for explanation of his more individualized curriculum.

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks for the kind words and for sharing Lisa. Tootles gets no individualized curriculum. He does the NT curriculum but he misses the afternoon science/social studies because he leaves early to work programs with his ABA tutors. Those programs facilitate his participation in the NT class. I’d love to hear more about Tate’s individualized curriculum. That sounds like a post to me… 🙂

  9. I agree with the general sentiment that T brought home a fantastic report card. Heck, I’M proud of him!!

    Little Miss also gets two report cards per year with similar information. I have never considered asking the school to revise their evaluation process based on Little Miss and I actually *like* the fact that she is “graded” according to the same scale as her peers.

    Here’s my spin on it. The report card shows how Little Miss is progressing in the context of her peers. The report card is a tool for both me and the teacher to identify that Little Miss *does* need the extra help that her IEP provides. By that token, the IEP shows me what progress Little Miss is making in those areas where her disability prevents her from performing to the same scale as her peers.

    I guess what I’m saying is that for our kids the report card is an important tool — but it must exist in cooperation with the IEP. Using the report card as a measurement against typical helps us to identify the areas where our kids need extra help. It also provides documentation for the next teacher so we do not have to begin our arguments for services anew with each coming year of education.

  10. jentroester says:

    I can say Social Thinking and the ILAUGH model are AWESOME. K has used it the past 2 years (in school and privately), and I have been to a conference, and it just makes perfect sense! I seriously am in love with everything about it!!!

    K’s report cards are scored with a 1-4, too. They are usually what I expect, and I’ve never had any great surprises. The only thing she has ever gotten a 4 in is homework, though, since we do turn it in everyday…ha! And she usually gets 2’s in all the social./behavioral stuff. Although, that is up from the 1’s she got in kindergarten…eek! Some of her work is modified and she gets tons of help, but thus far she hasn’t slipped below grade level in any academic portions (although reading and writing are getting harder, with the comprehension piece, and the fact that coming up with ideas for writing, or answering questions, is dang near impossible, so we are keeping an eye on that).

    • solodialogue says:

      I’m so excited that you have found it helpful for Katie! I have to use that stuff! You have totally motivated me now.

      I remember reading your post about her homework and I’m telling you- that story was hard on me! I’m afraid of how little he will communicate the comprehension bit or how long it will take him to respond. You are ahead of me. I’m watching because the things you do for Katie will help me in the future. Thanks, Jen.

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