• Jessica Lenhart

Covid Considerations: Special Education Progress Monitoring Must Continue

As of December 3, 2020, 246 of New Jersey’s more than 600 school districts and charter schools have moved to all-remote instruction. Approximately 438 school districts continue to offer some form of hybrid (in-person and remote) programming. As discussed in prior AdvoKids blog articles, neither federal nor state special education requirements have been waived or suspended during virtual or hybrid instruction. Under current federal and state guidance, school districts must continue to implement a student’s IEP “to the greatest extent possible.” In many cases, however, the “greatest extent possible” still leaves a special education student without the level of support they truly need. Based on my recent discussions with countless teachers and parents, we all feel stuck in a COVID holding pattern, just doing our best until we can resume all-in-person instruction.

Of the many challenges facing teachers and parents right now, Advo-

Kids hears frequent questions about progress monitoring during remote instruction. One source of guidance on this issue is on the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJ DOE) web page dedicated to “School Reopening Frequently Asked Questions.” The NJ DOE’s guidance is not law, per se, but it is important policy guidance. In the Frequently Asked Questions, the NJ DOE explains that monitoring student progress during hybrid and remote instruction must continue. While progress monitoring of IEP goals and objectives may look different now than in prior years, there are still many ways to continue to collect data on how a student is doing. IEP teams should maintain strong communication and detailed documentation about progress -- and update IEPs as needed to address regression or changes in a student’s current needs.

Here is what the NJ DOE guidance states, verbatim, about continued progress monitoring (pay particular attention to the second full paragraph):

"What is the role of the student’s IEP team prior to and during the period in which students are receiving instruction under the district’s remote and/or hybrid reopening plan?"