Before the IEP Meeting: 6 Tips for Parents
Does it reflect your input regarding the before the IEP Meeting: 6 Tips for Parents he does well and the skills he needs, as well as what you want him to know and do? Does it contain an accurate, comprehensive definition of her diagnosis, expressed clearly so that you understand how and what areas of learning are affected?
Does it present a clear, valid picture of his present level of performance in such a way that it can be used as a benchmark to measure future progress? Are you convinced that the treatment programs recommended are research-based and effective for his particular learning needs? Does the IEP provide a program for your child that allows maximum involvement with his peer group, in compliance with the law’s Least Restrictive Environment mandate? It is your responsibility to ensure that the IEP fits your child. You must read and understand each page to verify that it is filled out completely, accurately, and appropriately.
You must also review the document to make sure that it contains the essential elements described here. Noreen O’Mahoney, CSW, SDA, is the founder and director of Collaborative Advocacy Associates, in Wilton, CT. Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc. Created by ATG Communications and Visual Natives. The purpose of an accommodation is to provide a student with equal access to learning and an equal opportunity to show what he knows and what he can do. Common examples of accommodations include extended time to complete assignments, provision of notes or outlines, untimed tests, and reduced number of test questions. Modifications Unlike accommodations, which do not change the instructional level, content, or performance criteria, modifications alter one or more of those elements on a given assignment.
Modifications are changes in what students are expected to learn, based on their individual abilities. If not, can she do the same activity with adapted materials? If not, can she do the same activity with adapted expectations and materials? If not, can she accomplish the goals of the lesson by working with a partner or small group? If not, can she do the same activity with intermittent assistance from an adult? If not, can she do the same activity with direct adult assistance?
If not, can she do a different, parallel activity? NET Wilton and a Contributing Editor of Smart Kids. Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc. Created by ATG Communications and Visual Natives. Forgot Your User Name or Password? Professional Development Courses – Free for Members!
IEP is implemented until the next scheduled review. Annual goals must be identified that meet the student s needs, as identified in the present levels of performance. The academic and functional goals should focus on the learning and behavioral problems resulting from the child’s disability and be aligned with state and district performance standards. They should address the needs that are summarized in the statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. For those students taking alternate assessment, there should be at least one goal, with corresponding objectives or benchmarks, for each area of need. There must be a direct relationship between the goal and the needs identified in the PLEP. Goals also are descriptions of what a student can reasonably be expected to accomplish within one school year.
The goal is measurable if it reflects performance or behavior that can be measured or observed. A goal is able to be monitored it there are multiple increments in performance between the present levels of performance and the criteria stated in the goal. The goal should be written so that it can be monitored frequently. Finally, the goal is useful in making decision regarding the student s education and the effectiveness of the student s IEP. To meet the requirements of this part, the IEP team reviews and analyzes the present levels of educational performance and then writes an applicable annual goal for each area of need described. Goals must be written to enable the student to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum and to advance in other areas of educational need. Goals should be general statements that focus on deficit skill areas.
Goals should be designed to address the needs identified in the statement of the child’s present level of academic achievement of functional performance. Goals should be challenging and describe what a child can reasonably be expected to accomplish during the school year. All members of the IEP Team should easily understand the language of the goals. Goals should be written to increase the child’s successful participation in the general education curriculum and allow for inclusion in the general education environment to the maximum extent appropriate, or for preschool children, to participate in appropriate activities with non-disabled peers. Goals should be stated so they are meaningful. Is accomplishment of the goal necessary for success in current and future environments?
(i) Development follows a pattern:
Does the family believe the accomplishment of the goal is important? Does the goal specify a level of performance and expectation that is reasonable? Goals should be written so they can be monitored frequently and repeatedly. Goals should be written to enhance decision-making. Monitoring the goal provides data that can be used to determine the effectiveness of the child’s educational program.
Goals should reflect transition needs, if appropriate. Annual goals should focus on the knowledge, skills, behaviors and strategies to address the student s needs. A student s needs generally relate to domains such as, but not limited to, reading, writing, listening, organization, study skills, communication, physical development, motor skills, cognitive processing, problem-solving, social skills, play skills, memory, visual perception, auditory perception, attention, behavior, and career and community living skills. In developing the IEP goals, the Committee needs to select goals to answer the question: “What skills does the student require to master the content of the curriculum? For example, a student may be performing very poorly on written tests in global studies that require written expression.
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Step B: How Far By When? The next step is to identify what the focus of special education instruction will be over the course of the upcoming year. The annual goals will guide instruction, serve as the basis to measure progress and report to parents and serve as the guideposts to determine if the supports and services being provided to the student are appropriate and effective. To be measurable, an annual goal should, in language parents and educators can understand, describe the skill, behavior or knowledge the student will demonstrate and the extent to which it will be demonstrated.
Jim will write 10 sentences with correct punctuation. Terry will ask questions about the instructions or materials presented to ensure comprehension. Tom will use a datebook for appointments and assignments. Terry will solve multi-step word problems. Brianna will stand at least two feet away from the other person while conversing. Lisa will walk 10 feet independently. Mackenzie will speak in complete sentences.
Ron will point independently to pictures described. Jose will use word prediction software to write essays. Terms such as “will improve ,” “will increase . To be measurable, a behavior must be observable or able to be counted. In general, it is recommended that goals describe what the student will do, as opposed to what the student will not do. The student will ask for a break from work versus The student will not walk out of the classroom without permission.
For each annual goal, the IEP must include short-term instructional objectives or benchmarks. The instructional objectives or benchmarks must include evaluative criteria, evaluation procedures and schedules to be used to measure progress toward the annual goal. Short-term objectives break down the skills or steps necessary to accomplish a goal into discrete components. Grant will be able to identify what upset him after a behavioral disruption. Grant will be able to state the physical signs he is feeling when reading work gets difficult and leads to a behavioral disruption.
Grant will raise his hand for assistance when he begins to experience those physical signs. Benchmarks are the major milestones that the student will demonstrate that will lead to the annual goal. By February, Grant will remain in class for 25 minutes without disruptions. By April, Grant will remain in his reading class for 35 minutes without disruption. By June, Grant will remain in his reading class for 45 minutes without disruption. 5 turn-taking activities over three consecutive days as evaluated through teacher charting of the targeted behavior every 4 weeks. 4 out of 5 trials over a two-week period as evaluated through corrected work in class every 2 months.
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3 minutes over 10 consecutive trials as evaluated by structured observations of the targeted behavior once a month. 5 trials over a 2-week period as evaluated by structured observations every 8 weeks. Short-term objectives or benchmarks: The short-term objectives or benchmarks derive from the annual goals but represent smaller, more manageable learning tasks a child must master on the way to achieving the goals. The purpose of short-term objectives and benchmarks is to enable families, children, and teachers to monitor progress during the year and, if appropriate, revise the IEP consistent with the child’s instructional needs. Short-term objectives generally break the skills described in the annual goal into discrete components. Benchmarks describe the amount of progress the child is expected to make in a specified segment of the year.
Benchmarks establish expected performance levels that allow for regular checks of progress that coincide with the reporting periods for informing parents of their child’s progress toward achieving the annual goals. Evaluation procedures identify the method that will be used to measure progress and determine if the student has met the objective or benchmark. An evaluation procedure must provide an objective method in which the student s behavior will be measured or observed. It is not a date by which the student must demonstrate mastery of the objective. Some examples of possible short-term objectives are listed below. This information is necessary for reporting progress to parents and for the Committee to review the student s IEP.
A: Yes–For each identified present level of performance, there must be at least one annual goal specified. These goals and subsequent objectives form the basis for the curriculum and specially designed instruction provided to the student. They are, therefore, written in terms of what the student will achieve. They should not be written in terms of what a parent or service provider will provide to the student.
In developing annual goals the present level of educational performance must be considered. Annual goals must not be a restatement of the present levels of performance. Yet anyone reviewing the IEP should be able to clearly determine the direct relationship between the two. Measurable annual goals, including benchmarks or short-term objectives, are critical to the strategic planning process used to develop and implement the IEP for each child with a disability. The strong emphasis on linking the educational program of children with disabilities to the general curriculum is reflected in 300. A: Areas of the general curriculum that are not affected by the student s disability do not need to be specifically addressed in the IEP. Annual goals should address areas of the general curriculum that are directly affected by the students disability.
Accommodations and modifications may be needed for the student to participate in other areas of the general curriculum. IEP annual goals that relate to areas of the general curriculum in which the student s disability does not affect the child s ability to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum. IEP would need to specify those modifications or accommodations. Thus, in order to ensure that each child with a disability can effectively demonstrate competencies in an applicable area of the general curriculum, it is important for the IEP team to consider the accommodations and modifications that the child needs to assist him or her in demonstrating progress in that area. A: Short term objectives or benchmarks are measurable, intermediate steps between an individual s present level of performance and the annual goal.
Objectives should be based on a logical breakdown of the annual goal and reflect advancement toward that goal. They therefore must be provided for each area in which present levels of performance and annual goals have been stated. An IEP team may use either short term objectives or benchmarks or a combination of the two depending on the nature of the annual goals and needs of the child. Federal Register, Friday, March 12, 1999, Question 1, p. If either a parent or the school district believes that a required component of the student s IEP should be changed, the school district must conduct an IEP meeting if it believes that a change in the IEP may be necessary . Federal Register, Friday, March 12, 1999, Question 20, p. IEP, a meeting must be held with all required team members if any of these are going to be changed.
The team will then make the needed changes in the IEP and thus a new IEP will have been developed. There is no such thing as an addendum to an IEP allowed under IDEA. Annual Goal: Kevin will accurately interpret graphs and charts to solve grade-level mathematical problems. Criteria: Kevin will use manipulatives to reproduce graphs and charts to solve math problems. Criteria: Kevin will highlight the large print graphs and charts to increase the contrast between the various parts of the graph, in order to solve math problems.
Criteria: Kevin will verbally describe the material presented on graphs and charts to the teacher, in order to solve the problem. Annual Goal: Kevin will use graphic organizers to write a three-paragraph essay using correct sequencing of sentences including topic sentence, supporting sentences and conclusion. Criteria: Kevin will use graphic organizers to write a three sentence paragraph using correct sequencing of sentences including topic sentence, supporting sentences and conclusion with assistance by November. Criteria: Kevin will use graphic organizers to write a five sentence paragraph using correct sequencing of sentences including topic sentence, supporting sentences and conclusion with assistance by January. Criteria: Kevin will use graphic organizers to write a two paragraph essay using correct sequencing of sentences including topic sentence, supporting sentences and conclusion without assistance by March.
NASET Members: As always, we are interested in meeting your needs for information. Truly Experiencing Teaching and Learning for the First Time: Snails are Introduced to a Community of Learners Patricia Mason, Ed. Transitioning From School to the Workplace for Students with Disabilities By: Dr. Inquiry – Based Learning: Special Education Applications By Jillian F. Intensifying Intervention By Peter Dragula, M.
Special Education Research: Where to Start? Trauma Informed Teaching in Special Education By: Joshua A. Is There Only One Way to Teach Reading? 2007 National Association of Special Education Teachers. Your Child’s IEP: Practical and Legal Guidance for Parents By: Peter W. What should be in my child’s IEP? Editor’s note: This article was published before the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA.
While much of the law remains the same, some changes have been made to the language and procedures. We continue to offer this article because it provides valuable information that is still relevant to the current law. For more information on the recent changes, visit our 2004 IDEA Update page. Introduction If you are like many parents, when you receive a telephone call or letter inviting you to an IEP meeting, you respond with anxiety. Few parents look forward to attending IEP meetings. You may feel anxious, confused and inadequate at school meetings.
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What do you have to offer? Because they are not educators, most parents don’t understand that they have a unique role to play in the IEP process. Parents are the experts on their child. You spend hours every week in the company of your child. You make casual observations about your child in hundreds of different situations.
You are emotionally connected to and attuned to your child. You notice small but important changes in your child’s behavior and emotions that may be overlooked by others. You have very specialized knowledge about your child. Why do parents feel so anxious, inadequate and intimidated in school meetings? The “parental role” Perhaps we can explain “parental role” more clearly if we change the facts to illustrate our point.
Think back to the last time your child was sick and you saw a doctor for medical treatment. You provided the doctor or nurse with information about the child’s symptoms and general health. Good health care providers elicit this kind of information from parents. They do not assume that unless parents have medical training, they have little of value to offer! When health care professionals diagnose and treat children, they gather information from different sources. Observations of the child are an important source of information. The doctor’s own medical observations and lab tests are added to the information you provide from your own personal observations.
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Do you need to be medically trained before you have any valid or important information to offer the doctor about your child’s health? To diagnose a child’s problem and develop a good treatment plan, doctors need more than subjective observations. Regardless of their skill and experience, in most cases doctors need objective information about the child. Information from diagnostic tests provides them with objective information. Special education decision-making is similar to medical decision-making. Sound educational decision-making includes observations by people who know the child well and objective information from various tests and assessments.
In both medical and educational situations, a child is having problems that must be correctly identified. The IEP includes information about the child’s present levels of performance on various tests and measures. The IEP also includes information about goals and objectives for the child, specifically how educational problems will be addressed. How to evaluate progress Now, think back to that last time your child was sick and needed medical attention. This information helped the doctor decide whether or not your child was responding appropriately to treatment. As the parent, you are a member of the IEP team.
To make an accurate diagnosis, the IEP team will need to gather information from many sources. The information should also include objective testing. Objective testing needs to be done to measure the extent of the child’s problems and provide benchmarks to measure progress or lack of progress over time. If your child receives special education services, you know that a new educational plan or IEP must be developed for your child at least once a year.
Their educational needs also change rapidly. In many cases, the IEP needs to be revised more often than once a year. IEPs can be developed as often as necessary. The IEP should accurately describe your child’s learning problems and how these problems are going to be dealt with. One of the best and clearest ways to describe your child’s unique problems is to include information from the evaluations. The IEP document should contain a statement of the child’s present levels of educational performance.
If your child has reading problems, the IEP should include reading subtest scores. If your child has problems in math calculation, the IEP should include the math calculation subtest scores. Goals and objectives The IEP should also include a statement of measurable annual goals, including benchmarks and short- term objectives. The goals and objectives should be related to your child’s needs that result from the disability and should enable your child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum. The goals and objectives should meet other educational needs that result from your child’s disability. The IEP goals should focus on reducing or eliminating the child’s problems. The short term objectives should provide you and the teacher with ways to measure educational progress.
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Are reading decoding skills being mastered? In our work, we see many IEPs that are not appropriate. These IEPs do not include goals and objectives that are relevant to the child’s educational problems. If you take your child to the doctor for a bad cough, you want the cough treated. Measuring progress: Subjective observations or objective testing? Let’s return to our medical example.
Your son John complained that his throat was sore. You see that his throat is red. His skin is hot to the touch. Based on concerns raised by your subjective observations, you take John to the doctor. After the examination, the doctor will add subjective observations to yours.
When John’s temperature is measured, it is 104. Preliminary lab work shows that John has an elevated white count. These objective tests suggest that John has an infection. John’s temperature returned to normal a few days ago. To test for the presence of bacteria, you must do objective testing.
Unless you get objective testing, you cannot know if John’s infection has dissipated. How will you know if the IEP plan is working? Should you rely on your subjective observations? Or should you get additional information from objective testing?
Is your child “really making progress? We have worked with hundreds of families who were assured that their child was “really making progress. Although the parents did not see evidence of this “progress,” they placed their trust in the teachers. Jay’s parents felt that he was not learning how to read and write like other children his age. The regular education and special education teachers repeatedly assured the parents that Jay was “really making progress. The principal also told the parents that Jay was “really making progress.
After he completed first grade, the parents had Jay tested by a private sector diagnostician. The results of the private testing? Jay’s abilities were in the average to above average range. His skills in Reading and Written Language were at the early to mid-Kindergarten level. After two years of special education, Jay had not learned to read or write. When teachers tell you that your child is “making progress,” that teacher is giving you an opinion based on subjective observations. As you just saw in Jay’s case, opinions and subjective observations may not give you accurate information.
After you get the results of objective testing, you will know whether or not your child is really making progress toward the goals in the IEP. The IEP: The “Centerpiece” of Special Education Law The IEP has been called the “centerpiece” of the special education law. You will read about cases that have been decided around the country. After you learn about the law, regulations and cases, you will know how to write an IEP. If the IEP is written properly, you will be able to measure your child’s progress. If objective testing shows that your child is not learning and progressing as expected, then you know that the educational plan is not appropriate and your child is regressing. Read our companion article: Understanding Tests and Measurements for the Parent and Advocate.
When you master the information in these articles, you’ll be on your way to developing good IEPs for your child. The IDEA statute was amended in June, 1997. The new federal regulations were issued in March, 1999. The Regulations and Appendix A are also on the Wrightslaw site.
Legal decisions To help educate you about IEPs and what they should include, we are including information from actual cases. Each case was selected to illustrate specific points about IEPs. After you read this section, you will have a clear understanding about the law and IEPs. When the Supreme Court heard her case, Amy Rowley was a first grade child who was also deaf. Before Amy entered first grade, her parents asked that Amy be provided with a sign language interpreter. Although Amy could lip read, the parents asserted that an interpreter would enhance her ability to learn. The Supreme Court decided that Amy did not need a full-time sign language interpreter at that time.