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The IEP and Test Accommodations
Q: My tenth-grade son has learning difficulties as well as ADD. He's just passing. I have two tutors for him at home. When I ask the teachers for a study guide for the exams so my son can sift through the materials more easily and learn them, I can't get their cooperation. Now he has to pass the Global Studies Regent. It's mandatory, yet I can't find anyone to help him with it in school or at home. I literally have to teach my son the material, which I resent. Is there any way to demand legally, through the IEP, study guides or test modifications?
A: If your son is on an IEP, you should ask that the plan be amended to include these supports, which sound reasonable, given what you say. If they are in the IEP, they must be provided. I'm not positive about New York special education laws, but in most states, test modifications that are in the IEP must be provided for a child with special needs who takes a "high stakes" test, such as the Regent's exam.
If the teachers do not cooperate, ask the building principal or the director of special education to convene a meeting to discuss your son's performance and needs, your requests, and the teachers' obligation to provide reasonable accommodations. It sounds like you are doing your fair share by providing tutors at home; you'd think the school would provide them with the materials they need to help your son succeed. If your request does not bring results, you may want to consult an attorney who is familiar with the rights of students with disabilities, or you can contact the New York Office of Civil Rights for advice and assistance.
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Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.