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Finding a "Fair Way" to grade severely disabled students

By Kathleen Squires posted 11-24-2016 19:44


I work n a rural school that is fairly small.  We have a total of 1200 k-12 students in one building with about 450 high school students.  This is my second year working in the district as school psychologist and special education coordinator.  The school has been very slow in addressing the services of students based upon their needs not just their labels.   One of the issues that has been brought to my table is how to "grade" students with disabilities.  Last year a student with severe disabilities graduated from general education classes (i.e. Economics, government, algebra 2, etc.) with mostly A's and was in the top 10% of his class.  On some level, it is not an issue, but in this case it became an issue when the father tried to claim that his son did not need monetary support, showing his report card as evidence that he was smart and could be self sufficient .   So, my question is, how are high schools grading students who's curriculum is being highly modified?  

1 comment



03-24-2017 08:21

I am a school psychologist in rural mid Michigan.  Many of our schools receive training from the START program started at Grand Valley State University.  One of the things that we have been working on this year is utilizing the START resources around differentiated output.  I think you would be interested in the Differentiated Output Grading Matrix.  

Even if this is not exactly what you are looking for, I think the best way to approach these issues is through using an alternative report card that documents all of the modifications that are used in each classroom.  I am not sure how the school could justify giving a student a diploma instead of a certificate of completion if all of the student's classes had modified grading.

Also, in your particular case, I would think that the court would be more concerned about adaptive functioning than report card grades.  This year we have really been working on improving how we document accommodations/modifications and it has been a valuable process for our school teams.