Some of the statements made to parents at IEP meetings are “conversation stoppers” — comments that create barriers and can prevent the IEP team from working cooperatively to develop effective special education services and supports for students with disabilities.
Here are nine common “conversation stoppers,” some information about what may be the real issues of concern and suggestions for how parents can respond in a forceful but respectful way so that planning for their child can move forward.
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.
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.
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.
Recall the Law
The IEP must include “a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child— (i) To advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals; (ii) To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities;” 300.320(a)(4)