Keeping good records of your child's education is essential - especially if he or she has attention deficit disorder (ADHD) or a learning disability. Many parents rely only on records kept by the school, which include assessments, evaluations, and other reports.
Schools are usually very careful with student records, but the reality is that sometimes folders or documents get misplaced, lost, or even destroyed by accident. With so much paperwork, there is always the chance that something is going to get lost. It happens.
What should parents keep?
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents are entitled to copies of all school records about their child. (Schools are allowed to charge a 'reasonable fee' for copies.) Parents also have the right to correct any official records by having the school amend it or by placing a statement in the record. If you haven't already, go to the school and request a copy of your child's school records.
However, the school is not required to keep all important papers relating to your child's education. For example, did the school keep that fascinating story that your child wrote in second grade, the one that clearly demonstrates that, given the proper motivation and encouragement, he or she communicate through written language? Those papers are important.
If you haven't already, now would be a good time to start a student portfolio for your child. A portfolio is simply a collection of work completed by your child. You don't have to keep everything the kid ever did, but it is a good idea to keep samples of daily work, tests, and any other papers that show his or her ability and/or needs in the classroom. This is especially important for families who move or change schools often.
What else do I need?
You probably have some of these things already. The trick is getting them organized and arranged so you can find them when you need them. An accordion file works well.
Put these items in your file:
- All Individual Education Plan (IEP) forms
- Notes or letters from teachers
- Notes or letters from specialists (speech, hearing, occupational therapy, and any other areas)
- Any other letters you may have received from the school
- Notes you have taken during or after phone calls or visits to the school
- Copies of letters you have sent to the school
- Medical records
- Reports from any camps or other activities that apply to your child
- Letters written on your child's behalf from doctors, lawyers, or other professionals who work with children.
- Any special records or reports
Use labels to organize the accordion file by grades. As you acquire more papers, you may want to use several sections for each grade. If so, then mark each section with the grade level and specific information, such as "7th Grade — Reading" and "7th Grade — Speech."
You may also want to make a master list of all records. Include the title, date, and a brief description of the document for future reference.