In an effort to help you feel prepared for your child’s IEP meeting, I included some helpful hints and information. Participating in your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting can be overwhelming at times. To help you understand your role on the IEP team, this information explains the special vocabulary and procedures of an IEP meeting, and some helpful hints about how to make sure IEP goals address your child’s learning strengths and needs.
Some Questions and Answers:
What is an IEP?
IEP stands for INDIVIDUAL Education Plan. It is a written document which must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP defines a child's disabilities, states a child's current levels of educational performance, describes a child's educational needs, and specifies a child's annual educational goals and objectives. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities.
What is an IEP Meeting?
An IEP meeting is a team meeting about your child run by the school district. The IEP team includes district employees, teachers and you, the parents. The team may also include others who know your child. During the meeting, the team makes recommendations about available special education services. These are later put into a written document called the IEP.
The IEP TEAM CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING:
• A representative of the school district who is qualified and knowledgeable of the services and programs available, and availability of the resources of the local educational agency. This is the Case Manager or a CST Member.
• The child’s regular classroom teacher.
• The child’s special education teacher, if applicable.
• The parents of the child.
• The child, when appropriate. Starting at age 14, the student will be invited to all meetings. They will receive a separate meeting invitation addressed to them.
• A person who can interpret the assessments, if necessary…i.e. A CST Member
• At the parents’ discretion, other people who have knowledge or expertise regarding their child such as the school psychologist, resource specialist, school nurse, speech therapist, or physical therapist.
· Related Service Provider(s) when appropriate
If your child is already classified with a disability, an IEP meeting should occur at least once a year, usually in the spring. For this to happen, the IEP must be in effect before the next school year begins. This meeting is called the Annual Review IEP.
The IEP is reviewed at least once a year. However, if you or the teacher believes that your child isn’t learning or making progress or has achieved the goals sooner than expected, a meeting may be scheduled to revise the IEP.
What is the parent’s role at an IEP Meeting?
• learn and understand the process;
• share information;
• ask questions;
• offer suggestions;
• focus on “the big picture” and your child’s long-term needs; and
• speak on your child’s behalf
• Also share your concerns and give insights about your child’s interests, likes and dislikes, and learning styles.
What is included in an IEP Document?
• Your child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance;
• Annual goals for your child;
• How your child’s progress will be measured;
• The special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services that will be provided to (or on behalf of) your child, including program modifications or supports for school staff;
• An explanation of the extent (if any) to which your child willnot participate with children without disabilities in the regular class and in school activities;
• Any modifications your child will need when taking state or district-wide assessments;
• The dates when services will begin and end, the amount of services, as well as the frequency
• How and when you will be informed of your child’s progress;
• Transition Statements and Plan…beginning at age 14 or earlier if appropriate
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR CHILD’S IEP
1.Plan ahead and put your thoughts down on paper, so you won’t forget to mention what’s important to you during the meeting. Know the purpose and format of the IEP meeting and who will be there ahead of time. That way you won’t be surprised by the number of people around the table or the process being followed. This information is included on your meeting notice form, but you can always call for clarification and ask questions before the meeting.
2.Review current reports, last year's IEP (if applicable), and Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities sent to you annually.
3.Keep focused on what you want answered or provided for your child, not on how to get there — that’s the job of the professionals. For example, if you want your child to make more growth in reading, keep that foremost, and don’t get stuck on asking for a specific method of teaching you heard about from a friend. However, do make sure that special education and related services are based on research based methods.
4.Develop a collaborative relationship with the professionals who interact regularly with your child. Meet with his special education teacher to share observations and to learn how you can reinforce at home the skills and strategies being taught to him at school.
Supervisor of Special Services