Why Goals (Not Grades) Matter When You’re A Special Needs Parent

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

Today is the last day of school for Norrin (well, until Monday when he starts the summer program). Looking back at his first school year at a small special education school, I am amazed at his progress. And I can’t help but compare Norrin’s kindergarten year to this last year. Norrin spent kindergarten in a special education class at regular public school. It was a disaster, he failed almost every class. And in a class of seven kids, not once was Norrin ever Student of the Month. Norrin was inappropriately placed and he needed a different learning environment.

When Norrin started his new school last year, I had mixed feelings. I knew it was the right place for him, but it was never the place I expected him to be. But it has been the best thing for him. His school is ungraded and his class is still small with kids between the ages of six and eight years old. And there are no grades.

We realized that Norrin’s IQ cannot be measured with tests. For us, grades mean nothing, it’s about meeting goals. Goals, not grades, mean progress. Progress is everything.

Norrin can tell me what he had for lunch. And he can tell me if he went to Occupational or Speech therapy. Answering simple questions about his day wasn’t something he could do last year. He’s even asking us questions.

Norrin is reading at grade level, sounding out words when he comes across one he doesn’t know. His handwriting has improved significantly. He’s cutting and coloring so much better.

When Norrin has homework, he can go through his worksheets independently. Yes he needs some prompting and redirection but there’s no need for hand over hand.

Norrin is doing math. MATH! Adding and subtracting single digits.

Norrin talks about his friends at school. He’s happy.

I see the difference this last year has made. And it’s because Norrin is in the right place with people who understand him. It may not have been the school I imagined he’d attend but I’m grateful such a school exists. And I’m looking forward to the progress he’ll make in the years to come.

What kind of progress have your kids made this year? 


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  1. by Goals, Not Grades, Matter in School |

    On July 22, 2013 at 11:07 am

    [...] came across this article a while back which taught me a new lesson about being a ASD parent. Its not the grades that matter [...]

  2. [...] came across this article a while back which taught me a new lesson about being a ASD parent. Its not the grades that matter [...]