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What is an educational advocate?



An educational advocate has extensive knowledge about special education programs, 504 Plans, IEPs, and the academic support students with disabilities can receive through the public school system. They consult with parents to share their expertise, make recommendations, and in collaboration with parents, will often advocate on behalf of students at school meetings.



But here’s the thing


Anyone can claim to be an educational advocate.


There are no licensing requirements or certifications necessary to become an educational advocate. Therefore, it is up to parents to do their due diligence in finding an advocate that thoroughly understands their child’s disability and is qualified to speak to all of the ways that disability impacts the child.


Our next Ask the Advocate will be "How to Find a Qualified Educational Advocate", including interview questions- so be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss it!

An educational advocate’s job requires a combination of technical knowledge and excellent interpersonal skills. Here is a list of just some of the characteristics an effective educational advocate should possess:


Technical Knowledge and Skills

  • Ability to interpret psycho-educational evaluations and other educational data (such as academic growth assessments, state standardized tests, report cards, skill assessments, etc.)

  • Determine a child’s individual needs using that data

  • Understand federal special education laws, timelines, and regulations such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

  • Have expertise or specialize in your child’s disability such as autism, dyslexia, or Down syndrome.

  • Be well-versed in the programs, services, and accommodations provided by school districts as well as other private options if needed

  • Create appropriate and effective educational plans based on a child’s individual needs and learning profile

  • Knowledgeable about parent and student rights and procedural safeguards


Communication and Interpersonal Skills

  • Listen and empathize with families who are struggling to get their child the education they need

  • Explain complex procedures and educational data to parents in an approachable, empathetic, and easy-to-understand manner

  • Create professional and collaborative relationships with parents and school team members

  • Develop relationships throughout the school system in order to elevate conversations to include important decision-makers if necessary

  • Add a calm and professional voice to meetings that may become emotional to expedite communication and the special education process

  • Clearly present ideas and recommendations to the school team that are backed by data and research

  • Educate the school team in a way that validates their knowledge and helps them grow as professionals

  • Seek to understand everyone’s point of view in order to find solutions that are in the best interest of the student

  • Have professional persistence to continue to advocate for a child’s needs and find creative solutions



Educational advocates, who are appropriately trained and skilled at all aspects of the job, create academic plans that can change the trajectory of a child’s life.


Advocacy makes a difference!







 
Lorraine Hightower | Dyslexia Advocate and Consultant
Lorraine Hightower | Dyslexia Advocate and Consultant

Are you worried that your dyslexic child is falling behind in school? Are you ready to see your child learn and thrive? If so, we can help! Our advocacy practice has helped countless families transform the lives of their children, and create more peace and harmony at home.

While it isn’t always easy, it CAN happen, and we will support you every step of the way. Let’s Talk about how we can help your family!








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