Writing IEP Goals

Creating an IEP with a team of people who are all there to design a good educational program for one unique child can be a pleasure. It can also be very productive. When the whole team has the same level of understanding about IEPs, it is even better. Sounds like crazy talk? Just ask those who have seen it happen. The big winner here is the child.

A Lesson in Writing IEP Goals

An IEP is good educational programming. Good IEPs set the standard for good education. Each part of the IEP addresses an important part of educational planning. The IEP team focuses on the unique educational needs of an individual student. The goals reflect the child’s needs. Designing well-formed goals is an important part of writing an IEP.

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Inadequate IEPs and a Child’s Placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

PRN note: While this was written for New Jersey parents, the basic concepts apply in all states. The second factor listed is from a fifth Circuit Court case against a Texas school.

An inadequate IEP will make it difficult to consider any child’s placement in an organized way. To assist schools and parents, the department has developed and widely distributed a model form that addresses all the required IEP components.

Next, each placement option is examined not only as it currently exists, but also as it might be modified. Then, each educational placement option is examined in sequence from least restrictive to most restrictive.

Regular class placement is examined as the first option. In New Jersey, the decision-making process must include the three factors of the Oberti decision now incorporated into code and begins with consideration of placement in the regular classroom. Does this mean that each child must be placed in the regular classroom before other placement options are considered? The answer is no. The requirement for a continuum of placement options reinforces the importance of an individualized inquiry, not a “one size fits all” approach, in determining what placement is the least restrictive environment for each student with disabilities.

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What can I do if the school isn’t following my child’s IEP?

It is important to always maintain a good relationship with your child’s school district. When difficulties arise, a parent needs to maintain that relationship. Sometimes parents find out or believe that the district is not following their child’s IEP. When this situation occurs, it is essential for the parent to act quickly and to take the right steps in resolving the issue.

The first step is to write a letter to the principal. Many times the implementation or appropriate implementation of an IEP can be handled quickly and effectively by a school administrator.

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Is Your PLOP a Flop?

Special Ed e-News at the Special Ed Connection advises that in the panic to write the IEP, cover all the necessary goals, objectives, benchmarks (if applicable), and figure out how to accurately measure progress, the PLOP (present levels of performance) often gets neglected.

If you are into acronyms, the PLOP is known now as the PLAAFP. The Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance provide baseline information about your child’s knowledge and skills. Present levels are the starting point for setting IEP goals and measuring progress toward these goals.

Here’s what IDEA 2004 says about the PLAAFP …

The IEP must include…“a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance…including how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum;…” 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A)

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How Do I Get My Child’s IEP Going at the Beginning of the School Year?

My daughter got her first IEP last spring when she was a fifth grader. She started attending middle school this fall and it seems to be taking a long time for the school to line up some of her service providers. Is there anything I can do to help get her IEP going at the beginning of the school year?

Unfortunately, this problem is not uncommon. Schools often have to deal with faculty and staff leaving and new faculty and staff starting. Schedules sometimes change at the last minute. A new school year may also come with shifts in policies and procedures.

All of these changes help explain why it can be challenging to transition your child’s IEP services from year to year—and especially from school to school. These kinds of things can fall through the cracks. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help the transition go as smoothly as possible for your child.

I’m grouping my advice for you in three buckets: what you can do now, what you can do to prepare for next year and how you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “Your child is too smart to have an IEP.”

Fact: Intelligence has no bearing on disability or need. Even individuals with genius level IQs can have a disability that affects their ability to access the curriculum.

A student with a disability and “high cognition” can have needs (organizational skills, homework completion, social skills, counseling, and classroom behavior, etc.) that need to be addressed through special education and related services.

IDEA does not require schools to help a child reach their potential. However, OSEP does say that the school should “consider information about outside or extra learning support provided to the child”.  This would include support the family is providing directly or through tutors, assistive technology, related service providers or information on the amount of time the child spends studying and doing homework.

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“Since your child just moved here, there is no reason to review the IEP.”

It’s time for another of Chuck’s Comments that Parents Hear posts!

How should you respond if the school says: “Since your child just moved here, there is no reason to review the IEP. We will just transfer the old goals to our new forms.”

Recall the Law

The regulations differentiate between a student who has transferred within the state and one who transferred from another state.

If the student came from another school within the same state, the new school “in consultation with the parents” must provide FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) to the child (including services comparable to those described in the child’s IEP from the previous public agency), until the new public agency either (1) Adopts the child’s IEP from the previous public agency; or (2) Develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that meets the applicable requirements in 300.320 through 300.324.” 300.323(e)

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TEA’s Special Education Data Sharing Request

On Monday, June 19, 2017, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) sent the following letter to school administrators titled “Special Education Data Sharing Request – Eligibility for Reimbursement“. Many parents might wonder if sharing IEPs with the state is a violation of confidentiality. FERPA rules allow state education agency staff to view records for several purposes, including research. We believe the U.S. Department of Education is most likely aware that this will be part of TEA’s response to their report of the investigation of special education services in Texas.
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The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is committed to supporting districts, schools, and teachers as we strive to serve all our students well. As educators, we share a commitment to ensuring that all students, including those with disabilities, achieve academic success.

As part of this continued commitment, we are embarking on a process to utilize data from many sources and stakeholders to inform our long-term policy and programmatic goals to improve outcomes for students served by special education. Your participation in this project is important because the data from a large sample will help to ensure that we create a plan that is effective and responsive to the needs of all our students.

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Texas Legislative Update for June 2017

Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist,  shares his insights on newly signed Texas legislation.  Please keep in mind that even though a bill is effective immediately, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) must go through the process of developing and posting rules before schools can begin implementing some of the laws.

HB 657 

An ARD committee (IEP team) may promote a student to the next grade level if the committee concludes that the student has made sufficient progress in the measurable academic goals contained in the student’s IEP despite not passing the STAAR.  At the beginning of each school year, a district must inform parents of the options of the ARD committee if the student does not perform satisfactorily on an assessment instrument.  Effective immediately

HB 1645 

If a district allows a student to participate in a Special Olympics event, they must allow the student to earn a district letter.  This seems to be addressing a “fairness” or discrimination issue.  Effective immediately

SB 160

TEA may not adopt or implement a performance indicator in any agency monitoring system, including the performance-based monitoring analysis system, that solely measures a school district’s or open-enrollment charter school’s aggregated number or percentage of enrolled students who receive special education services.  TEA may still collect and examine data to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race or ethnicity is occurring in the state and in the school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.  Effective 5/22/2017

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Facilitated IEPs in Texas

In the last ten years, Texas has taken interest in the growing use of “facilitated IEPs” to assist in dealing with “difficult” IEP meetings and resolving disagreements.  In 2013, the Texas passed legislation addressing facilitated IEPs.  IEP facilitation offered by a school is now an option for resolving disputes.

TAC 89.1196 (a)  – IEP facilitation “refers to a method of alternative dispute resolution that involves the use of a trained facilitator to assist an admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee in developing an IEP for a student with a disability. The facilitator uses facilitation techniques to help the committee members communicate and collaborate effectively. While public schools are not required to offer IEP facilitation as an alternative dispute resolution method, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) encourages the use of IEP facilitation as described in this section.”

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