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May 16, 2006

State Acknowledges Error

The Silcott family in Altoona, Iowa, received a letter from the Iowa Department of Education in which the School Improvement Consultant (SIC) informed them that their son had failed to make adequate progress for the school year. The letter also demanded that the family enroll their son in school or submit an acceptable remediation plan.

This member family asked Home School Legal Defense Association for guidance.

We promptly called the SIC. She asserted that even though the student scored above the 30th percentile in all areas, he had failed to make six months progress since the previous year. We countered by pointing out that he did not need to make six months progress since his scores indicated he was at grade level. (Under Iowa law, a test score must be at or above the 30th percentile and either show six months of progress or show the student is at grade level.)

The SIC then discovered that her file contained an error. The local school district had misidentified the student's grade level when it transmitted the issue to the state. The error made it appear the student was not at grade level. In fact, he was on grade level in reading and one or two grades above his own level in vocabulary, language, and math.

The SIC acknowledged the error, withdrew the improvident demand for remediation, and gave us her assurance that she would send a follow-up letter to the family.