It seems like the school is not following my child’s IEP… what can I do?

Sometimes my daughter comes home from school and reports that she did not have time to finish her reading or math tests at school. We agreed at her IEP meeting that she will have extended time to complete all tests and daily work, but I’m worried that this is not happening. How can I address this issue with the school?


This question is one that many parents ask. Your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of services and accommodations the school provides for your child. Services and accommodations, such as extra time for work or for testing, are based on evaluation that identifies your child’s educational needs. As a parent, it is important that you feel comfortable with what the IEP team agreed upon, and you must be kept informed that services and accommodations are actually being provided to your child. The following are some useful steps that parents can take to be sure that the IEP is implemented as it is written.

Step One:

First, check your child’s IEP. Are the accommodations you are concerned about specifically listed, including when they will be provided or under what circumstances? Does the IEP actually state that extra time to complete work will be provided each day, or, does it say something like “accommodations will be provided when the teacher determines they are needed?” Language is very important. Unless the IEP specifies when the extra time will be provided, parents and teachers may find themselves at odds over whether an accommodation is needed for a specific task.

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Learning to Read and Write are Important, but so are Functional Skills

Learning to read and write are important, but so are functional skills, that can help a child live a full and enriched life! This article shares 3 parenting tips that you can use in your advocacy efforts!

Tip 1: Use Federal special education law Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA 2004 to strengthen your advocacy efforts for functional skill training. IDEA states that every IEP that is developed for a child must contain a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. What does this mean for your child? Your child’s IEP should state what level your child is at in the area of functional skills. Make sure that these statements are based on objective data such as tests and not subjective opinion.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “Let’s wait until your child is more … before trying that”

Recall the Law: Schools must ensure that:

“All children with disabilities … who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated.” 300.111(a)

“A free appropriate public education (FAPE) must be available to all children residing in the state between the ages of 3 and 21”. “Each State must ensure that FAPE is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade.” 300.101(a)&(c)

The IDEA includes the concept that students with disabilities should be taught in such a way that they can learn the general curriculum and progress toward the achievement level of their peers and also meet their IEP goals. If waiting would delay any of these things from occurring, then it would be inappropriate to wait.

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Annual IEP Review Meeting

An annual review is an IEP meeting required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that must be held at least once a year. The meeting brings the IEP team together to review the student’s progress and program, and plan for the following year. As with other IEP meetings, the school district must provide parents with advance written notice of the meeting and consider their availability when scheduling the meeting. The meeting has these parts:

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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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Parent Participation in IEP Meetings

IEP meetings can be emotional and overwhelming, but knowing how to work with the education team effectively is very important. You are a key member of the IEP team with the unique perspective that comes with the long view of your child’s developmental history, dreams, and resources.

Your participation is very important. As the IDEA notes:

“Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by… strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families … have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home.”

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New & Improved IEP Meetings

The words, “IEP meeting,” can strike fear in the hearts of parents and educators alike.  Anger, apprehension, dread, and a variety of other emotions may rise to the surface in anticipation of the meeting in which an Individual Education Program is written for a student who receives special education services. But we can change this!  And many of the tips from Kathie Snow’s  “New & Improved” IEP Meetings article can be used at any type of “I” meeting.

Download the PDF at

What are Supplementary Aids and Services?

According to IDEA, Supplementary Aids and Services means, aids, services and other supports that are provided in regular education classes or other education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.

Supplementary Aids and Services can include changes in:

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How to Use IDEA 2004 to Improve Your Child’s Special Education

Prior to IDEA 2004 the standard for a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) was that schools had to provide services so that the child received some educational benefit.  Congress said that the purpose of IDEA 2004 is to provide FAPE that “emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their (the child’s) unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.”  “Further education” is an outcome that had not been stated previously.  This sets a higher standard for parents to push for their child.

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17 Tips for Getting Quality Special Education Services for Your Child

Before the IEP Meeting

Individualized Education Program

The IEP is developed at a meeting with required staff and the parent(s).  For more information on IEPs, click here.

1. Request Needed Assessments in Writing or Get Independent Assessments

Your child can be assessed in any area of suspected disability and for any services needed for him to benefit from school.  For example, assessments may be done to determine/identify:

  • Reading or math levels
  • Modifications needed to fully include your child
  • Therapy services (OT, PT, speech, mental health)
  • Assistive technology like a communication device.

If you disagree with the school district’s assessment, you can obtain an independent assessment at public expense. Always request assessments in writing.

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