How to Get Great Results at Your IEP Meeting
In the last week we've had two of our three IEP meetings for the end of the year. And I have to say that I'm pleased with what we accomplished at each meeting. I would like to share some tips here, so that other parents can also achieve the same results when meeting the school to discuss their special needs child.
An IEP is an Individualized Education P rogram , sometimes also called an Individual Education Plan. It is an educational document drawn up for a student who has special needs that require certain accommodations or modifications to the school curriculum .
In many jurisdictions, the IEP is also a legal document. It represents a sort of contract between the school, the student and his family, and any other parties who are involved in the child's education. The IEP both outlines the ways in which the school will help the special needs student , and serves as a means to assess student progress . In some cases the IEP is a substitute for the standard report card, but in other cases it simply complements it.
Successful IEP Meetings: Be Sure Everyone is Present
You'd think it goes without saying, but do be sure everyone who needs to be present attends the meeting. We've had resource teachers catch us on the fly and try to hold an IEP meeting without inviting classroom teachers or support staff. We've also had enormous meetings that involved teachers, administrators, teaching assistants, and half a dozen therapists – most of whom had little to contribute to the process. Try to identify those people who are best able to help at this point in time, and be sure they attend the meeting. And if your child is able to contribute, do involve him as well.
Be Sure IEP Goals Are Current
One really bad habit we've noticed is that resource teachers tend to just roll over the old IEP, year after year. They may print up a whole new document, but many or all of the goals may be the same as last year's . If the student is making progress, at the very least the criteria for evaluation of the goal should be updated. You may also find that the identified strengths and weaknesses of the student, the accommodations, or the strategies used in the classroom need to be updated as time goes by.
Read all of the IEP before signing, to be sure that everything is up to date. This may mean telling the team you'll take it home for review. If anything needs changing, don't be afraid to write in your changes and return the document to the school so it can be corrected.
Insist on Goals That Can Be Measured
Every goal on an IEP should be specific, and should include the criteria by which progress will be measured . It should also include a time frame for the assessment . This will generally be a school term, but it can be a longer or shorter period of time.
If an IEP goal seems ambiguous to you, don't be afraid to ask how it will be measured. I've seen a lot of IEPs that were drawn up with horribly vague goals that had no criteria for assessment and no specified time frame. Don't assume that the school will automatically know how to format the IEP. Sometimes you need to advocate for your child, and that often means asking the team to try again.
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/business-meeting-dates-baiting-378412/ by geralt