Using NoRedInk with Students Who Have IEPs

Students with IEPs using laptops in English class

There are a variety of ways for teachers to use NoRedInk to support the students in their classrooms who have unique learning needs.

Every student in your class has a unique set of needs. Some students are entirely independent and benefit from the freedom to work ahead. Others require regular one-on-one support in order to make meaningful progress. Depending on the nature of this support, it may be formalized in an individualized education program (IEP).

Below, we review the basics of individualized education programs and explore how you can use NoRedInk to support students who have IEPs in your classroom.

What is an individualized education program?

An IEP is a legal document that lays out the services, accommodations, and special education instruction a student needs to make progress in school. Enshrined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), IEPs help families have a say in important decisions that affect their children’s learning.

There are two conditions a student must meet to be eligible for an IEP. One, they must have at least one of the disabilities covered by IDEA, which range from dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder to deafness and anxiety disorders. Two, the student’s disability must impair their ability to learn from the general education curriculum.

While the specifics vary widely on a student by student basis, an individualized education program must include several key components. Among other things, an IEP touches on a student’s current level of academic performance, the student’s goals for the forthcoming academic year, the services the student will receive, and a plan for how the student will participate in standardized testing. The student’s IEP team meets at least once per year to revisit their IEP and agree upon any necessary modifications.

How to support students who have individualized education programs

The details contained within the various components of an individualized education program should always dictate the specific services and accommodations a student receives, but there are a number of ways you can use NoRedInk to support every student in your classroom regardless of how they learn. Here are a few tips for using NoRedInk with students with IEPs:

1. Use Diagnostics to understand student needs

NoRedInk includes two types of diagnostic assessments: Planning Diagnostics and Unit Diagnostics. Planning Diagnostics are adaptive, standards-aligned assessments that gather broad-strokes data about each student’s strengths and areas for improvement. Typically completed at the start of a school year or semester, Planning Diagnostics give you an overview of where you might want to focus your instruction in the coming months.

The results of a Planning Diagnostic will enable you to zero in on the points in the year when you’ll need to provide the most scaffolding to your students with IEPs. This can help you plan in advance and target your requests for assistance from specialists or paraprofessionals effectively.

Unit Diagnostics are baseline assessments that, when paired with Growth Quizzes, demonstrate student growth over the course of a unit. The data from these activities gives you frequent insight into whether students with IEPs are getting the services and accommodations they need to learn the material you’re covering.

2. Create differentiated assignments for students

Many NoRedInk activities deliver differentiated learning experiences by design. For instance, adaptive Practice exercises show students hints, lessons, and extra questions when they’re struggling and show more challenging questions when they’re excelling. Additionally, Guided Drafts provide scaffolding to students throughout the writing cycle, including genre-specific tutorials and exemplars that help them grow as writers.

NoRedInk also has features that make it easy for you to further differentiate the work you assign to students with IEPs. As you’re creating a Practice assignment, you can sort students by proficiency band with the click of a button and assign the exercise only to students in certain bands. This streamlines the process of creating assignments that are tailored to individual students or small groups of students. (Assignments covering a large number of topics are overwhelming to many students with IEPs. Consider limiting assignments for these students to one or two topics at a time.)

To customize the scaffolding students see when working on writing activities, attach additional resources to the Quick Writes and Guided Drafts you assign to certain student groups. From sentence frames to vocabulary lists to process checklists, there are a variety of resources that make writing more approachable for students with IEPs.

3. Encourage students to turn on text-to-speech (or do it for them)

Teachers have the ability to turn on NoRedInk’s text-to-speech functionality for individual student accounts from their Manage Classes pages. Text-to-speech helps not only students with visual impairments, but students who struggle to learn by reading or prefer to learn in non-visual ways.

When text-to-speech is enabled, students can listen to Practice exercise directions, writing prompts, text passages, lessons, and more. They’re even able to listen back to their own writing when working on a Guided Draft.

(Most NoRedInk student interfaces are also fully keyboard accessible, screen reader accessible, and accessible via other assistive technologies.)

4. Leverage NoRedInk data to prepare for IEP meetings

As a teacher, you have on-the-ground insight into the academic performance of students with IEPs. Sharing this insight during IEP meetings is pivotal to ensuring students continue to get appropriate support.

Your NoRedInk Student Data page provides you with a quick and easy way to collect critical data to bring to IEP meetings. Clicking on a student’s name on your Student Data page will show you a comprehensive report of the student’s past work, including scores for Practice exercises, writing assignments, and Diagnostics.

Each student report also features a Writing Portfolio that centralizes all the Quick Writes and Guided Drafts the student has completed throughout their entire time using NoRedInk. This longitudinal view of student progress is incredibly instructive when considering whether to adjust the services and accommodations the student receives.

Build strong writers in your classroom

One of the many challenges of being a teacher is ensuring each and every one of your students is set up for success. NoRedInk strives to make this a little bit easier by streamlining complex tasks like diagnosing student skills and knowledge, differentiating assignments, and tracking student growth.

Interested in using NoRedInk to support the students in your classroom? Sign up for free today!

Thomas collaborates with colleagues from across NoRedInk to craft stories that illustrate how NoRedInk ​​builds stronger writers. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Occidental College.