IEPs and School Transfers

IDEA provides guidelines for a child with a disability transferring to another school in or out of district within the same state or out of state. The guidelines are specific as to the child’s right to have a free appropriate public education with services that are comparable to those in the previous IEP. It is important that the parents get copies of school records for their files, check with the new and existing schools to be sure the transfer request is made, make sure all records related to special or related services are included, and follow up with both schools if the transfer is not completed in a timely manner.

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Supreme Court Decision in Endrew F. Focuses on Mainstreaming, Progress, and Designing IEPs to Meet Child’s ‘Unique Needs’

What a great day! On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued another unanimous ruling in favor of children with special needs and their parents.

The Court emphasized that full inclusion is the primary standard, with the “child progressing smoothly through the regular curriculum.”

The Court held that “merely more than de minimis” progress is not enough. Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “…IDEA demands more. It requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”

If a child is not fully included, school officials must look at the child’s unique needs before developing an IEP that is “pursuing academic and functional advancement.”

The decision in Endrew F. is a great victory for those who advocate children being fully integrated in regular education classrooms.

Per the statute – unique needs = specialized instruction.

Read Pete Wright’s analysis of the Supreme Court decision in Endrew v. Douglas County.

Return to Data Collection

What do you know about your child’s unique needs? You will get information about your child’s unique needs from test data that measures your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and educational needs.

How do you measure the educational benefit? You look at changes in the test data over time.

  • Are your child’s standard scores, percentile ranks going up over time or going down?
  • Is your child regressing? Is he being damaged by an inappropriate educational program?
  • Is your child making progress and showing educational benefit?

We hope that the decision in Endrew F. will lead to a return to data collection and analysis of the data over time, instead of relying on subjective perceptions about a child’s progress.

Schools used to rely on data and objective measures of progress, before the 1991 decision in Shannon Carter’s case. After Carter, school districts stopped using objective tests to measure progress and embraced subjective “teacher observations.”

This is a great day! In Endrew F., the Court focused on educational progress, growth, and developing IEPs to meet the child’s unique needs, while also re-emphasizing the goal of integration or inclusion in regular education.

Congratulations to Endrew F’s parents and their attorney, Jack Robinson, Esq. of Spies, Powers & Robinson, Denver, CO. This was such a long battle. You lost at every level, until the Supreme Court agreed to hear your case, then ruled in your favor.


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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Ignoring This Will Derail Your Child’s IEP Goals: An IEP Strategy

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.

Things like:

  • 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).

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Amending an IEP without a Meeting

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.

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A Seven-Step Process to Creating Standards-based IEPs

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.

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Student Progress Monitoring: What This Means for Your Child

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.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “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…”

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.”

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May a report card refer to an IEP or a plan for providing services under Section 504?

May a report card identify special education being provided for that student or otherwise indicate that the student has a disability? For instance, may the report card refer to an IEP or a plan for providing services under Section 504?

Report cards indicate a child’s progress or level of achievement in specific classes, course content, or curriculum.  Consistent with this purpose, it would be permissible under Section 504 and Title II for a report card to indicate that a student is receiving special education or related services as long as the report card informs parents about their child’s progress or level of achievement in specific classes, course content, or curriculum.  For instance, a report card for a student with a disability may refer to an IEP or may refer to a plan for providing services under Section 504.

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