I would like your opinion on my son's Individual Education Plan please. He has an IEP for dyslexia (SLD) and it states that he should be graded on context and not downgraded for spelling or convention errors. He just started high school and they don't feel that is in his best interest. He has tried for years to work on his spelling and grammar and has taken little steps along the way. His high school special education teacher thinks that it would be to his benefit for his teachers to mark up his work showing him all of his errors and grade him accordingly. Do you feel that is beneficial to him?

Thank you in advance.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

When I evaluate a student who has spelling and writing (and reading) challenges, I will put this accommodation in my report: " When reading and spelling are not the focus of activities or assignments, the student should not be penalized for errors in reading or spelling. Moreover, he should be permitted to use spell-check features or software for completing writing assignments."

I'm assuming that his special education teacher is working with him to learn to edit his papers, including using dictation and writing software such as Inspiration [1] to help with writing; as well as teaching him about different types of text structure (e.g., narrative vs expository) and how to write differently based on his purpose and to use spelling and grammar prediction software, such as Ginger [2] and Grammarly [3].

In short, he should not be penalized for these errors if the errors are a result of weakness. Instead, he should have accommodations in the classroom AND direct instruction in the areas of need.