By in Parenting

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.

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Image credit: Meeting by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay ( CC0 1.0 )

Image Credit » by geralt

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MegL wrote on June 11, 2015, 5:52 PM

I think EVERY child should have something like this. They are all individuals, one size does NOT fit all but then, I suppose, teachers have enough paperwork to do without more to take away from teaching time. Very useful document thanks.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 11, 2015, 6:54 PM

I agree with you completely Meg, but yes, it would be crazy for teachers to write up an IEP for each child under the current system.

MelissaE wrote on June 12, 2015, 5:29 PM

You should write more of these types of posts. Parents of children with IEPs can be clueless. My son has had an IEP since he was in third grade. The last two years, he has wanted to go to the meetings alone. He says that he knows what's right for him. He'll be a senior next year.

CoralLevang wrote on June 13, 2015, 5:09 PM

Excellent article, Ruby3881 . This is something I hope all read. Great advice.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 14, 2015, 1:31 PM

I'll tell you one thing, I wouldn't let my child go to an IEP meeting alone! And the school shouldn't let that happen either. The education of a minor is the responsibility of his parents. It's fine if the student wants to take the lead at the meeting, but parents should be present until the child reaches the end of high school.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 14, 2015, 1:32 PM

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Coral emoticon :smile: