Advocating for Your Child in School in an IEP Meeting (Part 2)
Getting an IEP right
What is in the IEP?
Now that you know the definition of an IEP and what qualifies your child, let’s move forward and talk about what is in the IEP based on my experiences.
During the IEP meeting, typically you will have one person that is tasked with being your “case manager”. This person will oversee the IEP and should be your point of contact. You are an integral part of the IEP meeting! The IEP is developed by a team and you are a valued part of that team. You know your child best!
One of the first thing that needs to be decided is what environment the child needs in order to learn. The law requires students be placed in the “least restrictive” environment. For most students, this means inclusion where they spend the majority of their time in general education classes.
The IEP will include student information, the names of everyone on the team (including their position), your child’s present level of performing in school. any supports or accommodations, any services such as speech, OT or socialization group, progress reporting (how they will keep track of progress), supplementary services and aids, child participation and signature/consent page.
The annual goals are the main part of the IEP. These are the goals for targeted skills improvement. IEP goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented and time bound (SMART). The goals are related to your child and not whatever general education peers are doing in the classroom. The goals should use your child’s strengths to help them work on weaknesses (called strength based). When looking at the goals, you should be asking these questions:
• Are the goals clear and understandable?
• Do the goals list ways to measure progress?
• Do the goals address academic/social struggles?
• Are the goals positive in orientation?
• Can the goals be accomplished within the stated time frame?
• Do the goals align with present academic level?
• Do the goals set realistic expectations?
• Do the goals list how the child will gain skills?
Once the plan is complete, make sure that you go over it carefully. Is it accurate and complete? Are all the things you agreed upon in the meeting written on the IEP sheet, including any changes that were made? Are your concerns accurately stated? If you are satisfied, sign the IEP. If not, you can decline to sign. If you agree, the IEP will now be in place and your child will begin receiving services.
The next part of this series will be on what to bring to the IEP meeting and will be posted next Monday. So, stay tuned!