Readability of School Documents Hinders School-Family Partnerships

Proceedings of The 6th International Conference on Research in Education

Year: 2023



Readability of School Documents Hinders School-Family Partnerships

Dr. Lusa Lo




U.S. families are often overwhelmed by the number of legal documents they have to review about their children with disabilities, such as medical reports, lab reports, and exam reports by specialists. In schools, parents of children with disabilities are expected to collaborate and partner with schools by being actively engaged in the special education progress. Two of the legal documents they are expected to review are educational evaluation report and individualized education program (IEP). These documents not only inform parents about the strengths and needs of their children with disabilities, but also how schools would support them in and outside of classroom. Before parents can determine if the suggested services and placement are appropriate for their child and advocate for them, they must first be able to read and comprehend the documents. The purpose of this presentation is to share a study that examined the readability of these documents. Using the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease, and the New Dale-Chall formula, we reviewed IEPs and evaluation reports from three of the largest school districts. Results indicated that all the documents were written at a high school to college reading level. Other variables that increased text difficulty, such as small print size and large number of typographical errors, were also found. These findings suggested that parents would have difficulty reading and understanding their children’s IEPs even when they were translated.

keywords: Readability, family engagement, special education, individualized education program, diversity