This is the last post in the “Know Your Forms” series. It is a lengthy one, however, we feel it is important to understand all pieces of your child’s IEP (whether it’s your child’s first one or the annual review). Your team should discuss each piece of the IEP during your meeting.
You’ve been through the process and you are FINALLY at the point where your child is eligible for an IEP. IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. The IEP meeting can be held at the same time as the eligibility meeting or it can be held up to 10 days after the eligibility meeting, but still within the 90 day deadline (Know Your Forms-Eligibility and Know Your Forms-Referral For Help). After your initial IEP meeting, you will have this meeting annually to review your child’s progress and update his/her goals.
You should receive an invitation to the IEP meeting. You always have the right to ask for a different day or time. Your child’s team should be present for all special education meetings. (Who Is On Your Child’s Team?).
The first section of the IEP reviews your child’s strengths, any progress he/she has made, and how your child performed on any assessments. This will be a summary of all the data that you have already discussed at the initial referral and eligibility meetings. If it’s the annual review of your child’s IEP, it will be a summary of data on his/her goals, testing data, and progress from the year.
After this, you will be asked for any concerns you have for enhancing your child’s education and what your vision is for your child’s future. Take your time here! Really think about your concerns regarding your child’s education. When considering your vision for your child’s future, you can consider the future to be tomorrow, the end of the school year, or even after your child has finished school. This is something that you can prepare ahead of time and bring with you to your child’s IEP meeting.
Next, the special education teacher will ask if there are any upcoming transitions for your child as well as document any special factors ( such as deaf, blind, special communication needs, specially designed physical education, or limited English proficiency).
The next area is known as “PLOP”–Present Level of performance and written goals. You will have a separate page for each area of your child’s needs. For example, you could have a present level summary and goals for math and another one for reading. Measurable annual goals will be written to match your child’s present level of performance summary. You may also have short term objectives or benchmarks written. This is required if your child is on extended standards. Some districts do not require objectives or benchmarks for annual goals if your child is following the standard course of study. Each annual goal will align to the common core/ NC standard course of study for your child’s current grade level. At the bottom of each present level and goals page, your special education teacher will document how he or she will gather data to track your child’s goals. For example, it could be through anecdotal notes and student work samples. It is ok to speak up here too. Make recommendations or express concerns. Don’t worry if you don’t know the verbage or how to fully express what you want. The team should help with this. During this time, the team will also decide if any related service your child qualified for should be integrated into this goal or if any assistive technology is needed. What that means is, if your child is also going to receive speech language services or occupational therapy services, will those therapists also work on the same goal as the special education teacher? Typically, you will receive a progress report on your child’s IEP goals with each report card.
Accommodations and modifications, North Carolina testing, and least restrictive environment will be discussed next. Accommodations are a way the general education teacher (i.e.. classroom teacher) can help your child be more successful in his/her school day. For example, an accommodation may be that your child uses a slant board and a modified pencil during writing assignments. A modification is typically done by a special education teacher and related service providers but can be used in the regular education classroom. Modifications are specific strategies and tools that will help your child achieve their IEP goals. For the North Carolina testing program, your team will decide what accommodations or modifications are necessary for your child. For example, your team may decide that your child needs extended time on tests or needs to be tested in a smaller group in a separate room. Any accommodations for any state test must be implemented throughout the year for classroom tests. Please remember that you can always make suggestions for accommodations that you have seen your child use successfully. You are a part of your child’s team. Least restrictive environment (LRE) will be discussed and decided upon next. This will determine where your child will receive their special support within the general education classroom or the resource classroom. If the team decides that your child will be more successful within the resource classroom, a statement will be written justifying why the decision was made to pull them from the general education classroom.
Please note that this section of your child’s IEP could be “visually overwhelming”. It breaks down your child’s school day (including lunch, core academic subjects, and specials/connect classes) into sections where each accommodation is listed in detail.
The team will then consider how much time is needed for specially designed instruction. Services will be broken down into how many times per week, month, or reporting period and for how many minutes per session. This includes times spent with the special education teacher as well as times with any related service providers.
Continuum of Placement should be considered next. This is the percentage of minutes your child spends away from their general education classroom. If your child attends a special education preschool or is served in a different setting (home, separate school, etc.) there is a box to be checked.
The last few boxes let you know how you will receive progress reports (typically sent with report cards). Extended School Year can be considered during this meeting, but typically is a separate meeting if your child is a candidate. Finally, everyone will sign the IEP. If this is your child’s first IEP, you will also sign a form called a DEC6. This simply is a form granting the school permission to serve your child in special education. As always, you will also sign and receive the DEC 5 The Importance of a DEC5
A note for High School students: once your child is 14 years of age, he/she will be invited to attend the IEP meeting.
This meeting can be LONG. If you need a break, don’t hesitate to ask for one. This document is very important, but it’s also fluid. You or any other team member can call a meeting to reconsider any part of the IEP at any time.
Our intent with this post was to give you a general idea of what to expect during your child’s IEP meeting, understanding the IEP (which is also called a DEC 4), and how to be prepared. This document is very detailed and lengthy. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us via email .
Wendy and Christina