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The first quarter was quickly coming to an end for the Blithdale School District. Teachers were working hard to summarize student progress and tabulate grades for the extensive progress reports the district recently adopted. In addition to simply reporting grades and progress, Tara also labors over the data she has collected to track the IEP goals of her students in her 3rd grade reading group. The word that comes to mind when thinking about this group is sheer frustration. Not frustration in the sense of behavior, but rather discontent at the lack of progress this group of third graders is having.

I've never seen a group struggle so much with reading. All my creative games and techniques are just not working for these guys, Tara muses. She goes into every year vowing that reading won't be a bore for her special education kids. Reading is so hard anyway; she works relentlessly to make sure she has innovative ideas and motivating activities to keep the students engaged. If they can't get it in the general education classes, I've got to do something novel and different to get their attention, Tara has continuously thought.

However, this year she has already run through all the tricks in her bag in just one quarter. What do I have left to offer them for the rest of the year? She wondered. Many of the kids in her class came to her reading on about a first grade level and didn't seem to move an inch closer to grade level. Decoding was hard for them, which made comprehension also a tough obstacle. She wasn't looking for huge miracles, just something to help them get closer to independence. Some improvement would motivate both her and the kids, she was sure. But a little improvement seemed to be hard to come by this year. After she finishes grades and the school gets started on next quarter, she reminds herself to talk with her special education coordinator about ideas for helping them.

Click here to view a sample progress report.


  1. If you were Tara's special education coordinator, what would you suggest and why?
  2. Examine the factors that might be impeding the progress of this group of students.
  3. Recommend information that should be considered about the students when planning instruction.
  4. Propose how much progress and what type would be considered acceptable within one quarter and justify your selection.



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