Before your child's next IEP meeting:
Before you to go your child’s next Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, please consider the following information:
1. Why is an IEP important?
The IEP is not just a document; it is a process that supports the progress of your child. Use it both as a set of reasonable objectives and as a guide to help your child’s team stay on track, to help your child successfully achieve long term goals and skills for his or her future. Note: It is an individualized education program; which means it is for your child only and, therefore, your input in shaping the outcome of the IEP will ultimately shape the future for your child.
2. How can you have a better, more productive IEP meeting?
a. Schedule the meeting for a day and time when you can best attend, along with any key members of your child’s team (teachers, therapists, family members). You do not have to accept the first appointment offered; working for a better date may enable better participation by some of your child’s other teachers and may make for a more productive meeting.
b. It is OK to bring a friend - whoever you prefer, as there is no restriction on who you can bring to the IEP.
c. Make sure you understand if the meeting is either an Annual IEP or a Triennial IEP (and understand the difference). Triennial IEP’s may require several student assessments, in order to re-qualify the student for special education services, and must occur at least every three years.
d. When you receive your advance, draft copy of the IEP:
Write on it—jot down notes and questions that will help you both realize your main objective for the IEP and also help you stay informed during the meeting.
If you don’t understand an acronym or word, flag it so you can remember to ask for clarification during the actual meeting.
Don’t misinterpret the draft as a document you must accept “as is”….it is a draft (a working document). Your input is needed and critical.
If you have any questions, concerns, or issues, concerning the IEP and you want to ensure all items are addressed during the meeting, contact your Student Advocate (your child’s teacher). Identify any topics or student data (test scores or evaluation results) you want to discuss at the IEP meeting.
e. Prepare a list of questions, include topics such as:
What are my child’s present levels of academic and functional performance, including recent test and evaluation results? What do the raw test scores really mean? How do they compare to the last set of test scores?
What are the measurable annual goals and objectives, for my child, which are tied to academic education? Which goals are tied to functioning daily living skills?
What are some methods I can use at home to reinforce positive behaviors and offer consistency and reinforced learning?
Are there acronyms, words, phrases, or sentences you want clarified?
3. At the IEP Meeting:
This is your meeting. Your participation and input are critical—be an active member of the team.
a. During introductions, understand who is at the table, their job titles and responsibilities, and how they interact with your child. This will help you understand which teacher is responsible for each objective, so you can follow-up later.
b. Use your notes and the draft copy of the IEP that you marked with questions. Since this is your meeting, do not walk away from the table without having all of your questions answered.
c. If you don’t understand a term that is being used, ask for more information.
4. Before the meeting is adjourned:
a. Determine the “way ahead” for the IEP process:
Ask when you will get a final copy of the IEP.
Decide by whom, how, and how often, you will be informed of your child’s progress toward achieving the goals agreed upon.
b. Ask for a list of local, state and national agencies that offer programs and assistance, that address main areas of focus as outlined in your child’s IEP.
5. After the meeting is adjourned:
a. Spend a few minutes with your child’s Student Advocate, (case manager/teacher) to discuss your impression of the IEP meeting (what was good, what was not so good, how to improve the IEP process).
b. Ask for your child’s Student Advocate contact information, so you may follow up with him/her.