I Don’t Think My Child’s IEP Is Working as Well as It Should, What Do I Do?

Before scheduling an IEP meeting to discuss your concern, do some homework. Your initial concern may not be the primary cause of your child’s difficulty.

1. List each of your concerns. Next, look for data to support your concerns. Talk with the teacher  informally if this feels comfortable.

2. Gather your child’s IEP and any assessments. If you aren’t sure you have everything, write a letter asking the school to provide you with copies. The school has 5 days to provide you with the information that you requested.

3. Review the assessments and IEP papers and make sure you understand these documents. If you need help with this, call PRN.

IMPORTANT: The IEP is developed from assessment information. If something is missing or incorrect in the assessment, it may be the cause of why the IEP isn’t working well.

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4 Important Signs That Your Child’s IEP Is Working

The Individualized Education Program (or IEP) lays out the school’s commitment to provide special education and related services to your child. Developed annually, an IEP must be tailored to the individual needs of your child, with your involvement and input. Once formulated, the IEP becomes your roadmap to track your child’s progress throughout the year.

Here Are Four Important Signs That Your Child’s IEP Is Working:

1. Your child’s IEP has been reviewed by all teachers and related service providers.

All school personnel involved with your child’s education should be aware of and have access to your child’s IEP. This includes general education teachers, special education teachers, and any providers of related services such as speech/language.

Everyone should be knowledgeable about your child’s learning disability and its impact on all aspects of learning and behavior.  Everyone should be clear regarding any instructional support, accommodations, or other services that must be provided your child and the role each must play in making certain they are provided consistently.

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The Texas Academic Achievement Record (AAR)

Parents are often confused about the rules regarding course credits, graduation programs/plans, and what a school can do regarding course accommodations and content modification. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) develops a Minimum Standards for the AAR document each year.  The information in this post, much of it quoted heavily from the TEA document, can assist parents during ARD/IEP meetings to explore available options, if standard high school courses and/or content do not seem appropriate.

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When Should Parents Receive ARD/IEP Paperwork?

By Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist

I recently ran across a very interesting document on the Education Service Center (ESC) 13 website. It contains a Texas Education Agency (TEA) Q & A document on Prior Written Notice. There is no date on it, but a 2008 U.S. Department of Education letter is attached. What is interesting is a one page list of “Additional Information from TEA” –  it says:  “The bottom line on Prior Written Notice is that there are very rare instances when a change in a student’s IEP would not need to be documented by the LEA through Prior Written Notice provided five days in advance of the change unless the five‐day waiting period is waived in writing by the parent.”

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ARD/IEP Committee Decision Making Process

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.

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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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