Transition planning is a mandatory aspect of special education service delivery, according to federal special education law (IDEA 20 U.S.C. 1400). Federal law requires that school special education teams engage in transition planning for each student’s transition to adulthood — that is, from high school to college or employment.
The law states specific requirements for transition planning. These requirements include timing, assessment, goals, and services. In January 2017, the United States Department of Education published “A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities,” which explains IDEA’s requirement for transition planning and its relationship to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Federal regulations refer to an IEP team. In Texas, this team is referred to as the Admission, Review, and Dismissal or ARD committee. This committee meets at least once a year to develop, review and/or revise a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
IDEA says that the IEP meeting serves as a communication vehicle between parents and school personnel, and enables them, as equal participants, to make joint, informed decisions regarding-
- The student’s needs and appropriate goals designed to enable them to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum;
- The extent to which the student will participate in the regular education environment and State and district-wide assessments;
- The supplementary aids and services needed to support that involvement and participation (including in extracurricular and non-academic settings), and to achieve agreed-upon goals; and
- The program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the student to advance toward their goals and to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.
Parents are considered equal partners with school personnel in making these decisions, and the ARD committee must consider the parents’ concerns and the information that they provide regarding their child.
“We don’t have an aide (or service or equipment item, etc.) for your child, although we agree that it’s a good idea. Our budget is really tight and we just can’t afford it.”
Recall the Law
The school district must provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for children regardless of cost or funding issues. The school is required to identify building resources to meet the students’ needs.
“Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.” 300.39(a)
“Public agencies, therefore, must not make placement decisions based on a public agency’s needs or available resources, including budgetary considerations and the ability of the public agency to hire and recruit qualified staff.” comment to 300.116
Traits, personality traits, or characteristics … no matter what you call them, if ignored, it is almost a guarantee that your child’s IEP goals will fail. What are these traits you ask? They are the immeasurable qualities that make your child who they are.
- Your child’s learning style
- Your child’s interests
- Your child’s anxiety triggers or fears
- Your child’s view of themselves
Knowing and documenting these characteristics will help everyone on the ARD committee understand how best to provide services to your child. It will also help you determine if a particular intervention or accommodation is right for your child. For example, because my son is a visual learner, with auditory processing and concentration issues, having read-aloud as an accommodation is counter-intuitive. Because I know this, I would ask that the accommodation be adapted (i.e, giving my child a book to follow along with or using turn-taking during read aloud).
Today’s post discusses IEP amendments, when it can be useful to amend without a meeting, and things to consider when you are deciding whether to amend your child’s IEP without a meeting.
What is an IEP amendment?
During the school year, a parent or ARD committee member might decide that a student’s IEP needs a slight adjustment that may not warrant a full ARD meeting. When changes are small or limited to a particular service, amending without waiting for a meeting can be a useful way to quickly enact the change. For example, a new semester or school year might mean that goals or services need tweaking to work in the new setting. These adjustments may not require consulting with the entire ARD committee. Similarly, a conversation between the parent and a speech therapist may reveal that the student needs a new speech/language goal. The parent and speech therapist might agree on an appropriate goal without feeling the need for input from the rest of the ARD committee. In these situations, the parent and district can agree to change the IEP without calling a meeting of the entire team. This change is called an IEP amendment.
An IEP amendment cannot take the place of the required annual IEP meeting.
If your child has dysgraphia, this list of tools and apps from Understood.org can make writing easier. Your child may already use some of them at school, but it can help to have them at home, too. Most tools are sold in online catalogs for occupational therapists.
This post presents a seven-step process for developing IEPs that are aligned with state academic grade-level content standards. Each step is followed by guiding questions for the ARD committee to consider in making data-based decisions. This process can help school personnel to: (a) consider each student’s strengths and needs to develop goals focused on closing the gaps between the student’s levels of academic achievement and grade-level standards; and (b) use data to make decisions, including selecting the most appropriate assessment option. The goal is to support ARD committees to develop documents that, when implemented, provide access to the general curriculum and enable students to demonstrate academic achievement linked to grade-level content.
Progress monitoring can give you and your child’s teacher information that can help your child learn more and learn faster, and help you make better decisions about the type of instruction that will work best with your child.
Our children’s progress is being monitored constantly at school, through the steady stream of homework assignments, quizzes, tests, projects, and standardized tests. On first hearing the term “student progress monitoring,” our initial reaction may be “they’re doing this already!” or “more tests?”.
But do you really know how much your child is learning or progressing? Standardized tests compare your child’s performance with other children’s or with state standards. However, these tests are given at the end of the year; the teacher who has been working with your child during the year will not be able to use the test results to decide how to help your child learn better.
Unfortunately, parents at times realize that they are not sure of the amount of services that their child is receiving or other aspects of the delivery of related services. Recently, a parent wrote that they just learned that a COTA (Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant) rather than an OT was working with their child.
“I have used up all the time allotted on the IEP, therefore I am now only visiting your son as a favor which is why I make unscheduled visits to his class. Oh, you misunderstood, I meant that the minutes on the IEP are minimum minutes, but I don’t understand the district’s six day schedule, and my schedule is such that I cannot make scheduled visits to your child.”