ASK Tips to a More Efficient IEP!
Prior to the IEP:
Review the information contained
here at Wrightslaw http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/iep_guidance.html
This information can also be found in ASK’s “
Another good source of information can be found
at Protection and Advocacy’s website “Special Education Rights and
Responsibilities” Chapter 4.http://www.pai-ca.org/pubs/504401.pdf
Then do the following:
Step 1) Insist
upon receiving from the district copies of all district assessments and any
draft goals and objectives that have been prepared by the district staff prior
to the IEP. Having these documents prior to the IEP to review and digest allows
you to contribute to the planning of your child’s IEP in an effective and
thoughtful manner. Be sure your
request is in writing.
Step 2) If you
have obtained outside or non-school, independent, private assessments, you would
typically want to provide
copies to district representatives prior to the IEP to enable the district to
review and digest their contents. Also,
if you have drafted any goals and objectives for your child, it is helpful if
you provide copies of these to the district as well.
Please see, “Developing Goals and Objectives based on State
Sharing and reviewing this information in advance of an
will allow a more efficient use of everyone’s time during the IEP, because you
will not be seeing the information for the first time.
It also allows you as a parent to process what can be emotionally
difficult information in private, allowing the IEP to proceed on a more
Step 3) Notify
the district at least 24 hours in advance of the IEP meeting, in writing, that
you will be tape recording the IEP.
[California Educ. Code Section 56341(g)].
Take a copy of your written communication to the IEP, in case site staff
didn’t receive notice of your intent to record from the district
Many parents routinely record their IEP meetings and school
district staff has become accustomed to it. Tape recording an IEP meeting is NOT
“adversarial,” rather it is a parent’s right, set forth in California’s
education code. Often, both parents cannot attend an IEP meeting.
Meetings that last a long time are very tiring, and it is very difficult
to remember everything that was said.
because of the length of those meetings, district employees do not always get
everything written down properly.
recording the meeting allows you to listen to the meeting again to be sure that
all that was said is reflected in writing on the document. This allows you to go
back to the district and insist that they write into the IEP, what the
Step 4) Prepare
a list of your child’s strengths, as well as the concerns you have as a
parent. These will be documented on
the first page of the IEP. If there is not enough room on the IEP form to
document all of them, request an additional page so that your complete list can
be included in the IEP.
Decide beforehand what your goal is for your child in terms
of graduating high school. If it is
your goal to have your child graduate with a high school diploma, make it clear
to the IEP team and ask that it be written into the IEP. In this manner, all IEP
team members will be clear on your expectations for your child and can all work
toward the same goal, with the appropriate supports, services and programs
needed to achieve this goal.
[Note: Students who have been in Special Day Classes, as
well as many RSP or Resource students who have been in segregated classrooms now
and in the past, are expected to have great difficulty passing the new
California High School Exit Exam [CAHSEE]. This will come as a shock to parents
who have been told throughout their child’s education that their child was
“doing fine.” Many of these
parents always expected their child to graduate high school, but in high school
discover that their child is not doing well, and hadn’t received the
interventions they would need to allow them to keep up with their peers and have
access to what they need to know to do well in high school and beyond.
Insisting that your expectations for your child be written
into the IEP will ensure that the school and the parents are all on the same
wavelength.] Please see, “Understanding State and District
Remember, goals and objectives drive the services, supports, and placement. See Brief
Primer. As a result, placement should be the
last part of the IEP team’s discussion. When you discuss placement, always
remember that the general education classroom is the starting point for every
student, and that removal from that placement occurs only when the nature or
severity of the disability is such that education in the general education
classroom, even with the use of supplementary aids and services, cannot be
achieved satisfactorily. This is
the core of LRE- Least Restrictive Environment.
(Note: One of the first requirements of compliance with
IDEA for the state Coordinated Compliance Review, is that every IEP that places
a child outside of the general education classroom, must justify why the child
is being placed outside of the general education classroom and what supports and
services were provided in the general education classroom BEFORE the child was
Step 6) Plan to
have another parent attend the IEP with you. Never go to these meetings without
at least a friend or family member. There will be many more school district
staff there and you can feel overwhelmed if you are alone. You will feel more
comfortable with the support of another parent who is familiar with the IEP
process, and who can take notes and listen along with you. The ASK E-group, and
meetings are both great ways to get to know and communicate with other parents
who have children receiving special education services, and to develop a support
system to help you along the way.
At the IEP meeting:
Step 1) Insist
that a time limit be placed on the meeting, so that you do not tire and lose
your ability to focus on the important matters at hand. IEP’s which last
longer than 2-3 hours can be counter-productive. If you believe you will not finish your IEP within a reasonable time
frame, make a request at the beginning of the meeting to limit the meeting and
ask to reschedule a continuance of the IEP at the end of the meeting.
Making decisions when the entire IEP team is fresh is a better solution
than having to clean up after mistakes that resulted from everyone being tired.
Consider using the most current version of the IEP Guide on the U.S. Dept of
Education’s website. http://www.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html
Note that there are changes due to the reauthorization, but for the most part it
Parents can also
of Education’s model IEP form developed in the 2004 reauthorization at http://idea.ed.gov/static/modelForms
In addition, you can review information about keeping track
of the IEP discussion on a form while the IEP is in progress: http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/tips/Judy_IEP_Attachment.html
This will help you keep track of what has or has not been
covered while the IEP progresses. At
the end, you will have a complete record of what hasn’t been covered, and/or
what needs to be covered at the reconvening of the IEP meeting.
Step 3) Ask who
at the IEP meeting is the “educational agency representative” with authority
to bind the district, commit agency resources and ensure that the services
included in the IEP will actually be provided.
[Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56341(b)(1).]
you are at an IEP meeting, and district staff tells you that they will get back
to you about a service or program, then the district has not complied with this
requirement. If they are going to
“get back to you” insist that they respond within 10 days, in writing, and
request that this be documented in the IEP form itself.
This conforms with 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.503.
Step 4) When
discussing goals and objectives, remember that if you want your child fully
included, language which includes the phrase “with typically developing
peers” will help ensure that the placement and service delivery to be provided
are with your child’s typical peers. Also remember that you should have
concrete, specific goals with clearly defined short-term objectives that move
toward that goal. Progress toward
the goals should be easy to determine and measurable so that you know if your
child is making progress and whether that progress is appropriate or trivial.
Objectives that are vague or broad in nature will not allow for school
district accountability with regard to your child’s educational progress or
lack thereof. See ASK
Documents “Developing IEP Goals and Objectives Based on State Content
Standards.” See also
“Wrightslaw Game Plan – IEP Goals & Objectives.” http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/plan_iep_goals.html
detail matters and can make the difference
between a good IEP and a poor IEP. Goals and objectives that “roll over” or
are the same year-after-year do nothing to ensure progress. See also information
about “Higher Expectations and Accountability.”
See also, “What
Parents of Students with Disabilities Need to Know and Do” (regarding IDEA and
Step 5) When
discussing the evaluation and measurement of the goals and objectives, be sure
that data will be collected and reported to you that will demonstrate and
measure progress or lack of progress. IEP
goal and objective forms typically include the following examples: 1) Curriculum
based; 2) Work samples; 3) Teacher Made Evaluation; 4) Observation; 5) Criterion
Referenced; 6) Standardized Test; 7) Others. “Observation” is a subjective
measure that cannot be defined in terms of grade level standards, and can vary
from one person to the next. There
must be measurement that is documented via some form of data collection to
measure your child’s progress. It is also clear that everyone must be in
agreement with regard to a child’s present levels, or starting point so that
progress, or lack thereof, can be measured accurately and meaningfully.
Progress reports that say “Making Progress” are meaningless unless
there is data that supports it
Be sure that you understand the difference between standardized
accommodations and nonstandardized accommodations, before you decide how you
want your child to be tested. You can find historical information about this in “Understanding
State and District Assessments” but you should also check out
Wrightslaw at http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/osep/faqs.idea.assessment.htm.
Step 7) When
discussing whether or not to have your child assessed for Assistive Technology
please be sure that you have reviewed the following information. Assistive
Technology for all Individuals with Disabilities Basic requirements
regarding the consideration and provision of assistive technology and services
to each individual with a disability
See also, Assistive Technology and Accessible Literature
on the ASK Links. This is NOT just for those students with low incidence disabilities as IEP
forms seem to indicate. If your
child has a disability and needs some form of assistive technology to meet his
or her goals and objectives, then an Assistive Technology assessment should be
considered. AT is NOT just computer devices and hardware. AT includes Books on
Tape, calculators, tape recorders, pencil grips, larger pencils, computer
software, alternative computer access and specialized software, augmentative
communication devices, closed circuit television, FM systems, training and
technical assistance for professionals. [Go to the link for “Assistive Technology for
All Individuals With Disabilities” on the Assistive
Technology links page.]
Step 8) If your
child has behavior which is impeding his or her learning OR the learning of
other students, then your child should be supported by a Positive Behavior
Support Plan. This is something the school should provide upon your request
for a behavioral assessment. Please
see the information that we have provided about this which can be found at ASK
Links re: Behavior - Early Intervention,
Included at this link are various forms that can be used as a template
for the development of a positive behavior support plan.
Not all children need or require a functional behavioral
analysis that meets the requirements of the Title V Behavioral Interventions 5
CA ADC § 3052 at (5 CCR 3052)
A proactive Positive Behavior Support Plan developed after
a behavioral assessment by the school district’s BICM, Behavior
Intervention Case Manager, can often prevent the need for a functional
Step 9) If your
child is 14 or older, be sure to review the information about Transition,
provided in ASK Links. See as well the model forms regarding
Secondary Transition on the U.S. Department of Education’s IDEA
Also see NICHCY’s site on Transition related to students with
particular disabilities for how to appropriately serve your student as
they move into their adult lives. http://www.nichcy.org/resources/transition_disab.asp.
Another excellent source of information is Protection and Advocacy’s
“Special Education Rights and Responsibilities” Chapter 10,
Information on Transition Services, including Vocational Education.
Step 10) If your
child is to be fully included, you may request that teacher training and staff
development be written in to the IEP in the box for Program Options/ Services
Recommendations as staff development and training. In addition, you should request that your child and teacher
receive support from an inclusion specialist with regularly scheduled
collaboration meetings to be attended by you, the teacher and the providers of
service. This can also be written into the narrative part of the IEP if there is
a need to expand on the details of this support service. For more information
Remember: If you do not complete the IEP within the scheduled time frame,
schedule another meeting before you leave that one. The sooner you complete the
IEP the better for the child.
Step 12) When
the IEP is completed, ask that the narrative be read to you, or ask to review it
yourself. In the alternative, ask to take the IEP with you so that you may
review it at home. If you need to
make any clarification, do it on another sheet of paper, rather than crossing
out the original text. [If the IEP cannot be read and clearly understood, it is
of no use to anyone.] If there is
anything you want to add, do so on an extra sheet of narrative paper.
In the days of computerized IEPs, it is very important for parents to realize
they need to leave their student’s IEP meeting with an IEP document in hand.
If they say they cannot print one out, tell them you will wait for them
to find a printer, or alternatively suggest they write out the IEP in long-hand.
ALWAYS SIGN THE IEP TO INDICATE YOUR ATTENDANCE.
If it isn’t clear on the form, sign the IEP and indicate “attendance
You may also sign to indicate the parts of the IEP that you
agree with, so that those services and programs can go into effect, and you can
continue to work toward resolution regarding those portions of the IEP that you
still do not agree with. This is when a tape recording of the meeting can be
very helpful. Go home and listen to the recording and be sure that what is
written into the IEP is accurate. If
it isn’t accurate or is in any way incomplete, request another meeting, or
submit a written document of the changes that you wish to make to the IEP in
order to move toward resolution. If this method does not prove successful,
please refer to FAQ #11, in particular the portion about filing for due
Step 13) When
the IEP is completed, the district typically provides the parent with the yellow
NCR paper copy. Before you leave,
ask that the district make a photocopy of the original IEP, in addition to the
yellow copy they will provide to you. This is so that you will have a legible
copy. The yellow copy is the
third page of NCR paper and thus is often very difficult to read.
If you cannot read it, it is of no value to you or to the teachers and
providers of service.