Many of us have heard of an IEP but never had any clue what it was, or what it was for. Maybe you have never even heard of it. An IEP in short is an Individualized Education Plan for children with special needs. A parent in the community asked these questions “What are my rights, what can I do, what can’t I do, does anyone guide me along the way” (Kat Geerts, 2010). Questions like these are always in the thoughts of a parent that has a special needs child.
An IEP is a legal document that list what services your child will receive at school, why they are receiving the services, and the amount of time that will be working on the IEP goals and the amount of time spent in a regular classroom. It will also have your child’s disability, any therapist working with your child, modifications that may need to be made for your child, and both academic and behavioral goals, as needed. The IEP is designed to fit your child’s needs, not the needs of the school, the teacher, or even the district. The IEP is about your child only. The IEP cannot be put into place without the parent.
The IEP process is lengthy, but worth it. Getting an IEP can begin with a referral from the parent, a teacher or a doctor. If anyone of the above notices that the child is having troubles with school work or in the classroom an IEP can be request. Once the request is made data is then gathered. Data is gathered through conference with the parents, conference with the student, observation and analyzing the child’s performance. Once the data is collected and reviewed testing can be done to determine the child’s disability and eligibility.
A child may be found to have a disability; however that will not determine eligibility. Eligibity is specific to if a child is able to function within the school or not. School professionals will work to determine eligibility. The school professionals may include psychologist, speech therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and any others based on the needs of the child.
The parent may decide to have the child assessed. If the parent does, a permission slip must be signed prior to any testing. The parent also is able to determine which test they will allow. Test may include reading, math, language, development, etc. When all members of the team have done their assessments they will create a CER (comprehensive evaluation report). The CER includes the findings of the assessments done, the child’s educational classification, and it will also list skills, services, or support the child will need. A parent is then able to review the CER before an IEP is developed. A parent is able to agree or disagree with the findings. Parents are able to be a part of the IEP development process.
An IEP meeting is now ready to be scheduled. During this meeting the parent must be present, along with the professionals that did the assessments, and the teachers who will be working with the child. The entire team together will develop a plan and goals based on the child’s needs. Once the plan is developed, it’s put into action. From this point the IEP is reviewed annually to check progress. If services need to be altered they will be. Changes can be made on an ongoing basis as needed.
So again, the process is as follows:
2. Identify the need
4. Develop the IEP
5. Implement the IEP
6. Annual reviews & evaluations (or as needed)
In a future article this week we will discuss parent’s rights and resource when working with the IEP.
For more reading, including, FAQ, a good website to review is Wrights Law located at http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/iep.index.htm