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IEP Basics for Parents

What is An IEP?

IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. This is a legal plan that is developed by a full IEP team. Children can only qualify for an IEP after a Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET); which parents are member of, has determined that your child is (1) a child with a disability and (2) needing specially designed instruction in order to access and make progress in the general education curriculum. This plan is reviewed annually and it defines the supports and services your child will have.
 
Who makes up the IEP Team?

Required Members:
 
  • Parents/Guardians
    • Parents are equal partners in the IEP process and critical members of the decision-making team.
    • Parents should be actively involved with developing, reviewing and revising the IEP.
    • Parental input and attendance at all meetings is one of your rights!
  • Your child (when appropriate)
    • At the age of 16, your child must be invited to any IEP meetings
  • At least one general education teacher of your child
    • It is important for the general education teacher to provide feedback as to how your child can participate in the general education curriculum
  • At least one special education teacher of your child
    • It is important for the special education teacher to provide the team with accommodations and modifications so that your child can meaningfully participate in the general education curriculum
  • A school or district administrative representative
    • This may be the building Principal or Assistant Principal
    • The Lead Special Education Teacher or Psychologist
  • Someone qualified to explain assessments and evaluation reports
    • Most often the School Psychologist
    • The related service provider



Raising Special Kids IEP Training Power Point [PDF]
    • Trained Teacher or evaluator 

Additional Supports that may be present at the IEP meeting:
 
  • The school and/or parents may request other individuals to attend the IEP meeting. For instance, it may be helpful to invite someone who can provide additional information, support, or expertise about your child such as a neighbor, relative, friend, private therapist or parent advocate.
 
Remember

Parents, you are your child’s best advocate! By learning to be a good advocate, you will help ensure that your child receives the appropriate education to which s/he is entitled under law.
 
What Must the IEP Include?
 
  • The IEP is developed from using the results of a full psycho-educational evaluation
    • The psycho-educational evaluation must address 5 development areas of your child
      • Cognitive abilities
      • Academic abilities
      • Gross and Fine motor abilities
      • Social Emotional abilities
      • Communication abilities
  • Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) that is:
    • A summary of your child’s abilities that contains the following information on each of the 5 developmental areas.
    • Strengths
    • Needs
    • The specially designed instruction needed
    • Accommodations and/or Modifications needed to access the curriculum
      • Click here to for information on the difference between an Accommodation and a Modification
  • Goals that are written using the S.M.A.R.T. Goals are written to be obtained within 1 year and must include:
    • A specific skill identified in the PLAAFP
    • Baseline data to identify where your child is performing currently
    • Tied to the Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards
    • Clearly defined how the goal will be measured
    • Description of related services that your child will need in order to access the curriculum
  • Your child’s need for related services will be clearly defined in the PLAAFP and all related services will have goals as described above. Related services include:
    • Speech and Language Therapy
    • Physical Therapy
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Assistive Technology
    • Specially designed transportation
    • And much more as described in IDEA
  • The number of minutes your child will require specially designed instruction in any of the 5 developmental.
    • Service minutes on the IEP are determined by the team using the data on the PLAAFP and the goals that the team is trying to meet.
  • Description of how your child’s progress on IEP goals will be measured and by whom.
    • Parents should expect IEP progress reports to quarterly.
    • In D.U.S.D., IEP progress reports are sent home with student report cards.
  • The amount of time your child is away from his/her typically developing peers, know at the Least Restrictive Environment
    • According to federal law, your child with disabilities must be educated with his/her non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate.  
  • Determine if your child will receive ESY (Extended School Year)
  • ESY is to be provided as maintenance of skills and no new skills are taught. ESY is determined based on data collected following extended breaks and during all new skills being taught and determined for the following areas.
    • Regression and recoupment of skills
    • Critical learning of a new skill
  • Transition Planning after high school (begins at age 16)
    • The IEP year your child turns 16, the team will develop a plan for post high school to help develop skills and training based on your child interests.
    • All D.U.S.D. high schools have special education transition teachers to help support these post high school goals.
 
Key Points

The purpose of the IEP meeting is to focus on the child’s educational services while work towards finalizing and agreeing upon goals.
 
  • After the IEP meeting has ended and the team has come to consensus the Parents should receive a copy of both the IEP and the Prior Written Notice (PWN).
  • The IEP is reviewed at least once a year, or more often if needed, if revisions are needed
    • Remember all members of the IEP team are equal partners; therefore, any member may call an IEP meeting if they feel there is an concern the team needs to address.
    • No changes can be made to the IEP unless parents have had the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.
    • Any and all changes to your child's IEP must be supported by current data.
  • Your child is re-evaluated at least every 3 years(Triennial), or more often if needed, to determine if your child qualifies as having a disability and requires specially designed instruction to meet his/her educational needs
  • By signing the IEP, Team members are only indicating that they were present and participated in the IEP meeting.
 
Practical Tips

Before IEP meeting parents should
 
Be proactive - you are advocating for your child's educational needs
Organize and collect your own data - bring data from home health care providers as well as informal data you have collected on your child
Communicate with other members of the Team ahead of time, including your own child
Review child’s current IEP (if applicable)
Make a list of child’s academic and functional strengths and needs
Consider what motivates your child and what is your child’s learning style
Create a list of desired goals that you would like for your child to achieve
Submit your input to the (Case Manager)Service Coordinator at least 10 day prior to the IEP meeting
Request that you receive a copy of the IEP  “Rough Draft” prior to the actual IEP meeting so that and the Team members are all working from the same document
Be prepared to work as an integral part of the Team in order to best meet the needs of your child
Be realistic and think “outside of the box”
 
During IEP meeting parents should
  • The team should ALWAYS remain focused on your child and his/her needs
  • Provide your input and feedback based on the IEP “rough draft” you received prior to the meeting
  • Follow the Agenda and make sure there is time alloted on the agenda for parent questions
  • Take personal notes to make sure the Team is addressing these 5 areas:
    • Where are we now?
    • Where are we going?
    • How are we going to get there?
    • What does success look like?
    • How will progress be reported?
  • Ask for a “map” or schedule of your child’s day with IEP services included.
  • A “map” provides the Team with the IEP action plan.
    • Sample Map of a Students Day

Remember

The Team is a collaborative group not an “us against the family” meeting. Parents are incouraged to be proactive, not aggressive the team must stay calm and focus on the needs of your child. YOU the parent are know your child the best and are the best advocate for his/her needs.
 
Dysart Unified School District – Exceptional Student Services – Level of Support

There are times where the Team may not agree and are unable to reach a decision that everyone is comfortable with. If a problem or concern should arise ESS has implemented several supports available to parents and students to help with the IEP process. It is so important to always start with your child's service coordinator as your first level of communication, this is the person who works with your child on a daily basis and know your child in the educational setting the best. Below is a list of support to contact should the communication break down with the service coordinator:

At the Campus Level:
  • School Psychologist
  • Principal and/or Assistant Principal

If you feel you need district level support the ESS Department has Coordinators that support the teams and can work with you and the building.
  • ESS Coordinator

Remember
  • You; as a valuable member of the IEP team, can request a meeting at any time
    • Not all concerns require a formal IEP meeting with the entire Team.
    • First try to communicate and resolve concerns by calling, emailing, writing the appropriate teachers, therapists, etc.
    • Perhaps an informal conference with the appropriate people will remedy a concern.

Some reasons to request a formal IEP meeting:
To discuss unresolved concerns and CHANGES that need to be made in your child’s program/IEP such as: child has met a goal, child does not appear to be making progress, you feel additional services are needed or services are no longer needed, child has experienced a major change such as illness, surgery, injury, death of a family member. To request that school re-evaluate your child

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