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  • Writer's pictureThe Dyslexia Initiative

What Does 80% Mean?

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

by Ashley Roberts

You're in an IEP meeting reviewing goals. Whether good or bad, all the goals state that your child's success against the goal will be considered complete when they achieve the goal 80% of the time.

So what does that mean?

Think of it this way, out of every 100 attempts, your child will only get it right 80 times.

That's being correct 4/5ths of the time.

It's 80% right and 20% wrong.

Reframe it as a grade. Out of 100 questions, your child will answer 80 correctly. That's a B, and barely a B.

Now adjust the percentage to any other value. My child had a goal that read 70% of the time. That means 30% of the time he's wrong. It's barely a C, almost a D.

If you think of it framed as a grade, that's awfully close to failing. 10 more points, 10% more and you are failing by every other measure.

So why is this ok for goals?

It's not.

It is education to some predetermined value of average, but is that right, fair, just and within the capability of your child?

What if your child isn't "average?" What if your child's intelligence is more than 100?

Enter Endrew F.

The following is from WrightsLaw:

Progress: IDEA Demands More

“When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all. For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to ‘sitting idly . . . awaiting the time when they were old enough to ‘drop out.’” (Page 14)

“The IDEA demands more. It requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” (Page 14)

“We will not attempt to elaborate on what “appropriate” progress will look like from case to case. It is in the nature of the Act and the standard we adopt to resist such an effort: The adequacy of a given IEP turns on the unique circumstances of the child for whom it was created. This absence of a bright-line rule, however, should not be mistaken for “an invitation to the courts to substitute their own notions of sound educational policy for those of the school authorities which they review.” (Pages 15-16)

In closing, the Court returned to the importance of both parties being able to “fully air their respective opinions” and that school authorities should be able to offer “a cogent and responsive explanation for their decisions . . .”

Speaking of Peter Wright, I had the opportunity to attend one of his Special Education Law and Advocacy Training sessions in Houston. He said something that stuck with me more than anything else in that session. Peter Wright shared that he is dyslexic and was remediated by Diana King. He was identified late and was considered a problem in school which his parents took it in stride, but eventually found Ms. King. By the time she was done with him, he understood how he learns, and has never considered his dyslexia as a "problem," as a "burden" since.

In other words, he is fully remediated and does not view his dyslexia as something holding him back. He is one of the preeminent special education attorneys in the country, having argued several cases in front of the Supreme Court, and won.

This got the cogs in my head spinning at high speed. This has to be the goal for ALL of our children; every single one of them.

70%, 80% is not sufficient, especially if they are capable of more.

What is your child's real IQ, not the version deeply skewed by their dyslexia? 119? 125? If so 70%, 80% is deeply insufficient. They're capable of so much more.

But it begs the point, who cares what their IQ is. Even if their IQ is 100, average, why should the bar be set so low? Why are we not striving for full remediation? Why are we not working to ensure that our children are not in any way held back by their dyslexia? Why are we not digging into the holes in their understanding and filling those holes?

THEY CAN LEARN! THEY ARE FULLY CAPABLE! So why are we short changing them? Who is making this choice? What empirical evidence supports setting the bar so low? What science supports this as appropriate?

You know the answers already. We all do. There is no empirical evidence. There is no science that supports a goal so low. It's simply an arbitrary measure, a definition of average as defined at the convenience of your school district.

Don't settle for it. The goal needs to be appropriate to your child's ability. We cannot short change our children with the easy out of "average" because it's convenient. This attitude fails our children, short changes them, assumes they are not capable of more, tells them their dyslexia means they get to struggle their whole life with reading.

The neuroscience does not support such an approach. It's simply a choice we are making as a society, and that is morally insufficient.

This choice is NOT sufficient for my child, or for yours.

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