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

 

 

 

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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

 

504 and IEP’s: What’s the difference?

You are in  agreement  with your child’s school that your child needs help in his school day on specific needs.  Now what? Should your child get a 504 Plan or go the route for an IEP?  How does the school typically decide?  It will depend on the level of needs that your chid is currently expressing.

504 Plans are designed for the student who is able to do the work with the general education teacher but needs some modifications in his school day.  For example, maybe he has a difficult time remembering  what to do next on an assignment which results in the assignment going unfinished.  So the teacher comes up with a strategy to write short bulleted instructions on a sticky note that can either go directly on his assignment or on his desk.  She helps teach him how to use his list, crossing it off as he completes each item.  This is creating an interdependence between your child and his/her teacher as he gains skills to become more independent.   Your child can have testing accommodations through a 504 plan as well such as testing in a small group or extended test time. The general education teacher is responsible for the modifications that are written and agreed upon at your child’s 504 meeting. This is also for students who have severe allergies and medical conditions that require modifications.

IEPs (Individualized Education Plan) are designed for students who need specialized help.  There is a gap in their learning and they need more time and specific attention from a special education teacher to receive that help.  At your meeting, your child’s team will write goals that are aligned with his/her grade level.  If your child has a large gap in his/her abilities, the law says he should be receiving special education time to work on closing those gaps.  As well as having specific goals written for your child on the IEP, it will list accommodations and modifications that he/she will also be receiving throughout the school day.  So who is responsible for implementing these needed and agreed upon accommodations, modifications, and goals?  The special education teacher (or EC teacher) is responsible for working on your child’s goals as well as helping support him/her with those accommodations within the general classroom environment.  Your child’s general education teachers are responsible for implementing the modifications that are written on the IEP.  Examples could be sitting  close to the teacher or restating directions for assignments.  Typically, you will receive a progress report on your child’s goals with each report card.

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina