Friday, March 23, 2012

It's IEP Season Again

For students who receive special education services from their public schools, Spring is IEP (Individual Educational Program) season, the time when school districts focus on reviewing annual goals and progress and putting in place students' IEPs for the next school year. If your student has an upcoming Annual Review, here are some things to keep in mind to help the process along.

If possible, sit down with your child's teacher before the IEP meeting. Get a frank appraisal of how things are going, where your child is doing well and where he is struggling. You want a chance to speak to the teacher without the entire IEP team present and to find out if there are any issues that may come up at the meeting.

  • Speak to your child about how the year has been going. What seems to be working well for her? How is she managing socially in her present setting? If your child is pulled out of class for services is that impacting classroom continuity for her?
  • Know what you want for the coming year. Is there a particular service that you believe needs to be added for your child? A classroom accommodation? A new or modified goal?
  • For high school students, the IEP meeting should include a review of your student's current accumulation of credits towards graduation, as well as what kind of diploma he is on track to receive. You should be aware of whether your child is required to take a foreign language to graduate and understand what it means to be "foreign language exempt."
  • Consider bringing your teenager with you; it's his IEP and he will need to be prepared to deal with his learning or other disability by the time he graduates. Clearly, not every student has the maturity or ability to participate in a meeting where his challenges are discussed and schools can often discourage parents from bringing their child, but they cannot exclude students and the IDEA stresses that high school students should be included in meetings where their transition from high school is planned.
  • Bring along paper and pen and take notes about who is in attendance and what is said and decided. If it is difficult for you to both take notes and participate in the meeting, you should bring someone with you to be your notetaker. By law, you have the right to bring anyone you wish to the meeting.
Remember that you are an integral member of the IEP team and that you can and should be heard at the meeting.

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