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It is IEP (Individual Education Plan,) season in our house. Random Guy is due for his 3 year evaluation and SensiGirl will have her annual IEP and 3 year evaluation in a month or so.
What is there to know about an IEP? Firstly it is a legal document, it is the school's obligation to follow what the IEP says and provide the resources to accomplish the goals contained in it. It is an assessment of your child's progress, measurable goals and clear plans of how to achieve them. This is more than a report card, it is documentation of what goals were measured and progress of your child on those goals. Sometimes you IEP will include a behavior intervention plan. It is also a list of all the providers of services to your child: teachers, therapist, case worker, etc.
Make sure before going to an IEP meeting that you have the draft of the IEP being discussed at the meeting. Make sure you see all the changes in print before you sign it. This is for you and your child's benefit as well as the schools. If it is not written as you agreed to then you can call another IEP meeting for changes and adjustments. They really don't want to have another meeting, so remind them of that if they put the pressure on you to sign at the meeting. Usually if there are changes the case worker will make the changes and give me a copy to read in the next day or so, then I will sign.
Watch out for unfamiliar jargon, if you don't understand an acronym or phrase, ask for clarification. I think that educators sometimes forget how many acronyms and buzz words they use. Know what you want to ask for ahead of time. This is why it is important to get a copy of the document ahead of time. If you want some accommodations for testing, find a way for them to do that for your child. If you think your child needs extended school year (ESY) address this subject before the meeting to lay the groundwork, and then bring it up at the meeting.
An IEP is based on need, not availability of services. It is also an agreement for the use of resources to help educate your child. This will be expressed in frequency and amount of time for the support needed.
An IEP meeting doesn't have to be adversarial, but make sure that if your child has needs that the school should be providing support for, that it is written in the IEP document. If it isn't written in the IEP the school and staff don't have a directive as to what to do for that need. Everyone at the IEP meeting has a purpose for being there. They are there to give information, to monitor progress and to make sure protocol is being followed. The whole point of an IEP is to find a way for your child to get an education and succeed at school. Communicate your child's needs and expect the best from everyone on the team and more than likely you will get what you are striving for.
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resources : http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/iep.draft.howey.htm
t shirt available at : http://www.zazzle.com/iep+gifts