Know Your Forms-IEPs

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 .

 

With appreciation,

Wendy and Christina

 

 

 

Registering for Upcoming Social Class

For some students, obtaining and utilizing good social skills do not come naturally.  They move through their environment having a difficult time communicating and understanding more than just direct language-based interactions.  For example, good social skills include sharing space with others and learning to regulate one’s own behavior to other people’s thoughts or expectations as well as using your whole body to understand what people are “saying” around you.  For some students, these skills need to be taught.

Following the Social Thinking model, we will be teaching a 6-week session on helping your child begin learning these skills.  In turn, you will learn how to shift your thoughts and vocabulary while helping your child at home.

Your child does not need a diagnosis to attend.  However,this class is designed for students with Aspergers, ADD, ADHD, or any child needing to learn how to “think” about thinking as well as understand more about the complex social world in which we live.  While times of movement will be available, students must be able to sit in a room with a small group for one hour.

This class will meet for a six-week period beginning on Sunday, October 2nd.  There will be three separate groups.  The Kindergarten-2nd grade group will meet from 2:00-3:00 p.m., the 3rd-5th grade group will meet from 3:30-4:30 and  the 6th-8th grade group will meet from  5:00-6:00 p.m.  Group sizes will be kept small with no more than eight to ten children in each group.  This six-week session will be held at 8401 Medical Plaza Drive, Suite 120, Charlotte, NC 28262.

The total cost for the six-week session plus materials is $200.00.  To keep names and information confidential, if you would like to register for this class, please fill out the attached document and e-mail it to us. If you are unable to open the document, please send us a note and we’ll be happy to e-mail you another one.  Within this week, we will then send you a pay PayPal link to your e-mail to complete your registration for the class.   Once you receive your PayPal link, please complete your nonrefundable payment within 48 hours to reserve your and your child’s spot in the class.  Once the class is full, your name will go on a waiting list and we will contact you if an availability opens.

Please fill out the attached document and e-mail it to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com  with your interest in registration for the class…social skills referral medical history-2

If you are interested in the class but have questions before deciding if this class is a good fit for your child, please reach out to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  We would be happy to answer your questions!

Upcoming News….

We are planning on having another, shorter session around the holidays (November through early December) to help assist students learn social behaviors and skills to utilize during these times.  This class will also have a parent participation group as well as a student group.  You do not need to attend this first session to attend the later session in November.  Please enter your e-mail in “follow our blog” on the home page to receive the latest information! We will send out information about that shorter session towards the end of October.

Nature's Heart 1 wm quote

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

Know Your Forms-Eligibility

After you’ve had your initial meeting (Know Your Forms-Referral For Help), the next meeting will be to discuss all the data and any new evaluations that have taken place since your last meeting.  There are  14 categories a child can qualify under in North Carolina.  They are the following: Autism, Deaf-Blindness, Deafness, Developmental Delay, Serious Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Visual Impairment including blindness.  Your child must meet at least one of these areas to qualify for special education in North Carolina. There are times where a student will meet two of the criteria and you can list a primary disability and a secondary disability on the eligibility form.

Each of the fourteen areas have their own worksheet with specific criteria for qualification.   Again, here is the link to a list of the worksheets and forms from NCDPI http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/policies/forms/statewide-forms    Your team will meet to discuss the overall evaluations which were conducted and any new data as well as review which categories your child may fit best under.  Each worksheet for each possible category must be filled out and discussed at your child’s eligibility meeting. Remember, you are meeting as a team (Who Is On Your Child’s Team?).  If your child meets the criteria on at least one of the worksheets, the team can then decide that he/she qualifies for specialized education and you can then move on towards writing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). The DEC 3 form will also be filled out and all members of the team will sign the form in agreement.  It is common to move directly into developing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan).  To keep this post shorter and focused on the eligibility requirements, we are going to have a separate post this week regarding the IEP.

After this meeting, you will have a copy of the following forms: Invitation to the meeting, Eligibility Determination (also known as a DEC 3), the completed worksheets of the categories that were discussed at the meeting, and the DEC 5 (The Importance of a DEC5).

This determination is good for 3 years.  Every three years, your child’s special education teacher (0r case manager) will have a Reevaluation meeting (the form is called a DEC 7) to review your child’s data as a team.  The team will decide if he/she continues to meet the criteria for the disability and a new DEC 3 form as well as the qualifying worksheet(s) will once again be filled out and discussed.  It is a good idea to keep all of your copies of your child’s paperwork organized at home. It’s also a good idea to be aware of the last time your child had his/her Eligibility Evaluation meeting and when his/her three-year mark is up.

As always, your school should offer you a copy of the Parents Rights and Responsibilities Handbook in Special Education at each meeting.  Here is a link with the newest copy of the handbook: http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/ecparenthandbook.pdf

If you have any questions about a referral or eligibility meeting, drop us an e-mail at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com. We love hearing from you!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

Know Your Forms-Referral For Help

In order to be prepared for a meeting, it is important to know your forms. We’re going to break down the forms into separate blog posts because it can be confusing as there are several forms for each step. This post is for initial referrals for specialized help.  Please also refer to the post The Importance of a DEC5

An excellent reference to all of the forms is the North Carolina’s Department of Public Instructions (NCDPI) page. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/policies/forms/statewide-forms This page tells you what each form is and even gives directions on how it should be filled out.  Do not hesitate to also call or e-mail your child’s case manager with questions about the process, forms, or information you would like to see noted.

Before every meeting, you will receive a paper invitation stating the day and time of your meeting.  If there is a conflict, you can write on the form requesting a second option and send it back to the school.  If the day and time work, you sign the invitation and send it back to the school.  You can also write in the people you are bringing to the meeting on this form. Examples would include tutors, therapists, advocates, or psychologists.

Most schools will have a draft prepared before you arrive. You can request to see the draft prior to the meeting so you are also prepared for what will be discussed. Always remember, you are part of your child’s team. You have the right to add information or even make suggestions for how some things can be worded.

At this initial referral meeting, your child’s team will first address if your child has had a recent vision and hearing screening. This rules out your child’s specific needs are not caused by any possible hearing or vision problems.  You will then discuss his/her strengths in all academic and functional areas (such as reading, writing, math, gross and fine motor skills, and daily living activities).  The next step will be to address any areas of concerns and any medical diagnosis your child may have.  After discussing and documenting the areas of concern, your team will then decide one of three things: The first option is for no evaluations to be conducted based on the information reviewed. A statement will be written to explain this decision. If this choice is made, the special education process stops.  However, there are times the team decides your child would benefit from a 504 Plan.  That will be a separate meeting.  For the differences in IEPs and 504s, please check out our blog post 504 and IEP’s: What’s the difference?  The second option is the team determines the current data is enough to say your child qualifies for one of the 14 disabling conditions North Carolina recognizes. This most typically would happen when a child is aging in to the school district through early intervention. The third option would be to conduct evaluations.  The team may decide they need more data such as a speech and language therapy evaluation or a psychological and educational evaluation.   If you decide on option 3, then you will also then sign a form called a DEC 2 which gives permission for your child to receive these evaluations. The third option is the most common.

The process for a referral, which includes gathering more data through evaluations if necessary,  is 90 days.  The end of 90 days date will be marked on your initial referral paperwork which is also called a DEC 1.

By the end of this meeting, you should have a copy of the following paperwork: Invitation To the Meeting, the Referral (also known as a DEC1 form), the Prior Notice/DEC 5 (The Importance of a DEC5) and the Informed Consent for Evaluation (also known as the DEC 2 form) if the team decided to collect more evaluations.  It is a good idea to start a new file folder or have an organized place to file these forms.  That way, you can easily access them when you have questions or concerns for your child’s school or need to refer to them for counselors, etc.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

What Can I Do if My Child is Struggling in School?

The RTI system is a lenghty process.  Perhaps you, as a parent, have outside evaluations and information that you can share with your child’s school.  North Carolina schools must consider your private evaluations as part of the data finding process in identifying your child’s unique learning needs.  A parent can also formally request a special education meeting to evaluate for special education services.  Once the parent has made this request, the school has 90 days to start and complete the process.  Please read the blog post Knowing Your Forms (coming very soon) to learn about the different forms and what they mean.  During the first meeting, the team will discuss your child’s strenghts in various areas and his/her areas of need.  The team will also discuss any evaluations or inofrmation you might have and what interventions have been tried prior to this meeting.  After all data has been discussed and documented, one of three decisions will be made: 1. conduct an evaluation 2. determine your child is eligible for services or 3. do not conduct an evalution.

If the decision is to conduct the evalution, the team will decide based on the areas of need which evaluation will be conducted.  If there is enough data to support finding your child eligible at this meeting, eligibility forms can then be completed and an IEP implemented.

The third choice of not conducting an evluation could happen as a reult of not having enough data.  It could also result in your child moving to a meeting for a 504 instead (there is an upcoming blog post coming soon about the differences between IEPs and 504s). If the team decides that there is not enough data the team may decide to also have your child go back into the RTI process to gather more information, observations and overall data on what your child needs to be more successful in his/her school environment. The law says, however, that the RTI process can not be used to prolong or delay evaluating. If it is decided that your child should be evaluated based on current data, then the information that would be collected through RTI must be complete before the timeframe for the special education process is complete. In North Carolina, that would be 90 days from the day the school received the referral.

If you need help writing a letter to your child’s school, please check out this link: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/evaluation-2/

 

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina

 

What Does the School Do if My Child is Struggling?

Your child is struggling in school. You’ve noticed it and most likely your child’s teachers have noticed the struggles.  It could be in behavior, reading, math, sensory, etc.  You’ve brought up your concerns with your child’s teacher and the two of you have talked about possible ways you can help him/her at school as well as at home.  Yet, the struggles continue and your child is falling behind.  This seems like something that is beyond what common classroom modifications can help alone.

If your child is in a public school, it is common for him/her to then go through the RTI or MTSS process.  RTI stands for Response To Intervention and MTSS stands for multi-tiered system of supports.  RTI is a multi tiered system that identifies specific struggles within a student and collects data on how the interventions have helped or not helped your child.  The overall method is a common one, however, it may look a little different depending on what county you live in and if your child attends a public school or a charter school. If you would like to learn more about RTI and MTSS  you can ask your school for further details and/or check out the following links:  www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/6880 and http://mtss.ncdpi.wikispaces.net

The RTI method can be lengthy but it is intended to gather good information on how your child learns, what interventions have worked and what specific struggles your child continues to have.  If your child has worked through this tier system and continues to need specialized help, he/she is typically then referred to the exceptional children’s department (special education).

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina