The IEP is a document that contains measurable annual goals and short-term objectives for a child receiving special education. The IEP details the special educational services and any necessary related supplementary aids that the school system will provide to a student with disabilities. Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) protects the student’s right to an education in the least restrictive environment.
The IEP team, which includes your child’s teachers and therapists, school and district faculty and you, develops the IEP at a meeting, usually held in the spring. The best way to positively impact your child’s education is to follow your child’s education, keep track of his medical and educational records, and use them to prepare for a successful IEP meeting. And keep a positive attitude!
Review past assessments, evaluations, and IEPs. Review past goals and outcomes.
Ask who will be at the meeting and for any evaluations, test results, etc. that will be relevant to your child’s IEP.
Share what goals you want included in the IEP and any new services you think your child might need (e.g., occupational therapy, summer programs, transportation). If you have additional evaluations, provide them to the school in advance.
Know your objectives before the meeting, and write your list of questions
Invite another parent, friend or neighbor to come with you. Ask them to take notes and support you. You might want to tape the meeting. Inform the school of your plans.
An IEP meeting can be intimidating. Be prepared to stay calm and approach the IEP as a team player. Remember, you are an important member of the team that makes crucial decisions about your child’s education.
Consider inviting your child to be an active part of the team.
Keep the meeting positive for your child: remember to focus on gifts, strengths and progress.
Make sure that the iep goals for your child are reasonable and measurable – a child should make one year’s progress each year. Scrutinize the goals and identify strategies to achieve them. Make sure they can be measured subjectively.
The IEP and placement should be established according to your child’s needs. If you are not satisfied or certain about something contained in the IEP, ask to meet with the team again.
Communicate regularly with your child’s teachers and therapists.
Stay involved! Support your child’s education at home. Visit the school and observe.
Make sure that progress is achieved throughout the year; don’t wait until the next IEP meeting to see if objectives are being met.
You can call an IEP review meeting any time throughout the year if you do not think progress is being made.
Parents and experts agree, no one will look out for your child’s interests as well as you, and you must take an active role in his education. Since a large portion of your child’s time will be spent in the school system, it is crucial that it be the best experience possible, a time to maximize your child’s potential and growth. Your communication with his educators is critical to success and accountability.
The individualized education plan (IEP) is the template on which the education of a student with disabilities is based. The IEP is written every year at a meeting of a team involving educators, professionals and parents. Preparing for the IEP meeting and approaching it with a positive attitude can go a long way toward making the notoriously stressful event a success. View the meeting as an opportunity to generate ideas and create excitement on your child’s team. As your child grows, make sure that he is included in the planning and decision-making that will impact his future.