Tips for Parents Navigating an IEP
IEP stands for individualized educational program. It is a document written for a child with a disability that identifies needs, sets goals and lists services to insure optimal educational and vocational outcomes. Often the IEP process can be intimidating and overwhelming to parents. The following guidelines will help parents become engaged participants in the development and implementation of an effective IEP.Before the first IEP meeting:
- Gather information about your child: medical information, work samples, report cards, progress reports, classroom observations, independent evaluations, therapists’ reports, state assessments; and most importantly, assessments based on your own first-hand knowledge.
- Draft a vision statement, with your child’s input if possible, describing future goals for academics, behavior, post-secondary education, independence and employment.
- Assess your child’s present level of ability in reading, writing, math, language, attention, social skills, fine & gross motor skills, self care, and technology. Even if you’re not a trained educator, your assessment is invaluable; you know your child better than anyone else.
- Consider inviting a family member and/or trusted friend to attend the IEP meeting with you as an advocate/support.
During the IEP meeting:
- Be informed, be vocal, and advocate for the best interests of your child.
- Expect goals that address a specific need and that they are measurable and appropriately challenging.
- Find out how progress will be measured and when you will be provided with progress reports.
- Consider related services that may be needed, such as therapy (speech and language, physical, occupational) counseling, transportation, nursing and teacher training.
- Note which program modifications and accommodations are proposed; for example, extended time for tests, fewer concepts presented, etc.
- Come to consensus about where the IEP will be carried out: within the general education classroom, within a special education classroom, or in a combination of the two.
- Start early discussing what will happen after high school. Consider now what will pave the way for successful postsecondary education, employment and independent living.After the IEP meeting:
- Explain any changes to your child and the reasons for them so he/she is not surprised or upset by unexpected changes in the routine.
-Monitor your child’s progress. If there are significant gains, a substantial lack of improvement or a new issue needs to be addressed, request an IEP team meeting before the annual review.
Your IEP Rights:
- Prior notice
- Due Process
- Translated materials
- Schedule that works with you & the team
- Revoke your signature
- Stay put law
- Request a meeting (any time)
* To request changes to an IEP or start a new one, you should first contact the Special Education Coordinator at your child's school.