My Child’s Grades Are “Too Good” for Accommodations. What Should I Do?

By Bob Cunningham, EdM

Question:

Our seventh grader was denied an IEP. We were told he also couldn’t get accommodations through a 504 plan because his grades were “too good.” We know he needs support because we have to work with him on homework and assignments every day to keep his grades up. What can we do to get him accommodations?

Answer:

This is an unfortunate situation, but it’s not unusual. The special education system is often set up so that a child has to have poor grades to get help. But sometimes a child is only doing well because parents and caregivers are providing a lot of support.

It puts you in a very difficult position. Nobody wants to make the choice to stop providing as much help so that their child “fails.”

But there’s another approach that I would recommend.

You could ask your son’s guidance counselor to work with the teachers to limit the amount of homework he gets for a specific period of time, like three weeks. In those three weeks, have your son do the homework himself first—without your help. If the support he’s getting is a tutor, have him do the work before the tutor goes over the topic with him.

Then, since he has less work to get done, there’s time for him to do the same assignment again. This time, though, have him do it using the support you’re used to giving or with the tutor. Take both versions of his work to the IEP team and ask them to reconsider their decision.

Even if they don’t reconsider, there are other steps you can take:

  • Work with your child’s school on other types of support without an IEP or a 504 plan. That might include interventions.

  • Talk to the school counselor or an administrator. Be sure to give them specific information about your child’s difficulties. The more they know, the better able they’ll be to help.

  • See if there are options for getting extra help for your son that are school-based and that you don’t have to provide. This help might come from teachers, a homework club, or a volunteer tutoring program.

These aren’t your only options, though. There are steps you can take if the school denies services. Learn about due process and how it protects your child. And if you don’t think the evaluation was done right, you can consider an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

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    About the author

    About the author

    Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.