Do you think all children should receive the same education, regardless of individual strengths and weaknesses?
Probably not, and thankfully neither does the US Congress. In fact, it’s required to compose an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for every student in a special education course to ensure they are learning in the way that is most effective for them. IEPs serve an important purpose, so let’s take a look at how to make them most beneficial.
Who should be on a child’s IEP team?
- A school district representative
- The child’s regular education teacher, if he or she has one
- The child’s special education teacher or provider
- Parent or guardian of the child
- The child!
The team meeting is held within 30 days of the decision that the child will be provided special education, and is an essential step in creating an effective IEP! Not only is it required before special education services will begin, it’s also where the student’s goals will be outlined, and where the services provided by the school district will be defined.
No one knows the child better than the parents. Their knowledge and input is indispensable at this stage. Parents who are informed and involved both at school and home can make all the difference.
Process and Components
The school will set times for team meetings, during which the child’s IEP team will work together to create the IEP and organize its implementation. It’s important to have high expectations for the student and to establish achievable goals. Make sure the frequency of services is sufficient for the student to reach the goals, too!
- The child’s current level of achievement
- Annual goals for the child
- The special education services to be provided for the child
- How much of the day the child will be in special education
- How required assessments will be administered
- Where and how often services will be provided, and for how long
- How the child’s progress toward annual goals will be measured
This should occur as soon as possible after the team meeting! Follow up meetings can be scheduled for periodic checkups to ensure the IEP is serving its purpose, and to amend it if necessary.
Another meeting is not required in order to amend the IEP. The school and the child’s parents can draw up a written amendment, and all members of the committee must be informed of the changes.
Sweet 16! When the student reaches this age, it’s time to start making plans for life post-school. Whether that involves college, employment, independent living, or other options, this is a vital period for prevention of the student dropping out of high school, and also for setting up a successful future. Some transition services that can be included are instruction, vocational training, and life skills practice.
Extended School Year (ESY)
ESY programs are additional services provided outside the school day, be it in the hours after school or days during school breaks, such as summer vacation. The student’s need and eligibility for ESY will be determined by the IEP team, preferably during the initial IEP team meeting.
These programs are not necessarily a continuation of the special education programs, and are often focused on subjects such as reading instruction or speech therapy.
State laws vary regarding ESY programs, so make sure to learn the specifics for your area.
That’s a lot to know!
IEPs can be an overwhelming prospect, but remember that it won’t be set in stone, and can be changed as the child’s needs change, or even as the IEP team gains more knowledge. With a bit of work can be one of the most effective tools for the student’ s education. After all, its purpose is to help the child succeed, and that’s a cause everyone can support.
If you would like to get more information on these topics and more come to the Special Education Laws Made Simple Seminar Monday, May 19th in Orange, CA!