It is estimated that typically developing children will experience regression in reading and mathematics during COVID-19 school closures.
“Preliminary COVID slide estimates suggest students will return in fall 2020 with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year. However, in mathematics, students are likely to show much smaller learning gains, returning with less than 50% of the learning gains and in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions. “ Kuhfeld, M. & Tarasawa, B. (2020). The COVID-19 slide: What summer learning loss can tell us about the potential impact of school closures on student academic achievement. NWEA.
It is likely that regression may be even worse for children with disabilities. Understanding and document your child’s progress and regression will help you advocate for increased special education and related services, if needed, once schools reopen.
In order to monitor progress or regression, you need to know where your child is right now on IEP goals. If you don’t know, reach out to your child’s general education and special education teachers to get their input.
- Ask the teacher what your child’s benchmark levels are for reading and math. Examples of reading benchmark assessments are Lexile, Fountas and PInnell, Reading A-Z.
- Look at the common core state standards for your state and your child’s grade level.
- Take a look at your child’s goals and where they are in meeting them. Write up a statement of your child’s present levels of academic and functional performance (what are they able to do right now, what percentage of their goal is met, or what benchmarks have been achieved, etc.). Look at their academic, social and emotional learning, activities of daily living, executive functioning skills, and mental health skills such as coping mechanisms.
- Submit your summary to your child’s IEP team to establish a baseline.
Then, as you are distance learning with your child, keep a daily log and video record his/her performance.
- How is your child progressing in reading, writing, math, and other subjects?
- How often does he/she need to be redirected?
- How independent is he/she in completing their work?
- How often is he/she having seizures?
- What else are you noticing?
This is a rare chance for parents to see what’s happening on a day to day basis in terms of their child’s progress, rate of learning, ability to attend, and more. This could be an opportunity to be a more meaningful participant at your next IEP meeting, to say “I actually taught my child, and this is what I noticed he needs.”
Ideally, before implementing a change of placement or a change of services you would hold an IEP meeting. Because that may be impractical at this time, at the very least you should be monitoring your child’s progress (or regression) over the coming weeks/months.
Many school districts are offering online therapy, with some sending therapists to a child’s home to provide therapy with social distancing. Some services (such as speech therapy, counseling, or even occupational therapy) may be delivered successfully via remote video conferencing, whereas other services (such as physical therapy) may need to be made up once direct, in-person therapy resumes.
While these services may not fully address the child’s unique needs as outlined in the IEP, in order to prevent regression you may want to continue home-based therapy as much as possible. Ask your child’s therapists to provide a progressive home exercise program detailing which exercises to start with and how to build on them. Video sessions are great for things like jumping jacks, but for fine motor exercises parents will need to work directly with the child.
With younger students, virtual/home-based therapy will require a team effort with therapists, students, and their parents. Beyond direct therapy services, much can be done in the home through daily routines to help the child maintain and build their functional and adaptive skills.