How To: Have a Successful IEP Meeting
Get Ready For That IEP Meeting
Having an IEP conference can be intimidating for newer special education, or regular education, teachers and parents. If you haven’t done one before, it’s hard to know what to expect and what exactly it is you’re supposed to do. Here are a few steps outlined for having that meeting.
Ten Days Before The IEP Meeting
At least ten days before the meeting, and preferably two weeks before, you need to send a written notice to the parents about the meeting. Since this is an annual meeting, it’s best to also send this notice to all involved in the special education of the child, for example, the speech/language pathologist, the occupational therapist, the physical therapist and the principal.
It is best if the special education teacher can get a list of dates and times from the other providers and then call the parents before sending the note home. This way you can ensure that the parents are free on the day you set up the meeting. By having a choice of dates and times available, the parents are more willing to work with you at a time that is most convenient for them.
Prepare The IEP Draft
In those ten days, if not already done, it is time for the teacher to prepare the IEP, or Individual Education Plan, for the student in question. This is the time to think about how the student has grown throughout the past year and to think about what kind of growth you want to see in the next year.
The teacher will want to consult with the office to make sure all of the student’s demographic information is still correct. This will go on the cover page, along with the people who will attend the meeting.
Present Levels for the IEP
Next, the teacher will review the present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, or PLAAFP information. The teacher will summarize the student’s performance throughout the previous year and be sure to include all the strengths and needs of the student in the areas of general education, social and emotional, health and physical, communication and anything else that is pertinent to the meeting.
The teacher will list all needs of the child, including communication needs, behavioral needs, assistive technology needs, and anything else the student may need.
Then the teacher will write goals and objectives for the student for the next year. Goals are long term targets that are usually written for the entire school year, while the objectives break that goal down into quarterly areas that need worked on.
Least Restrictive Environment
Part of the IEP will tell how much the student will be pulled from the regular education class – if at all – for special education services. Some students will receive services in their regular education class with the aid of a special education teacher or paraprofessional. These times are decided based on the needs of the student.
Somewhere in the IEP, there needs to be a statement of least restrictive environment. Basically, this will tell the parent why the student is getting the services he or she is receiving, and how getting those services may impact his or her school life. In this statement, there needs to be a statement of potential harmful effects and how those may affect the student.
Some states also require a statement of Medicaid release that allows schools to recover money from Medicaid that may be due to them for services and for assessments.
The Day of the IEP Meeting
The day of the meeting, the parent(s) will be there with at least one administrator, the regular education teacher, the special education teacher and any other providers that provide any services. Introductions will be made if they are needed and the meeting will begin.
Usually, the special education teacher takes the lead, but in some districts the administrator will do this. It is best if the special education teacher – and all others involved – use parent friendly language and avoid educational jargon, such as IEP and PLAFFPs, unless the teacher knows for a fact that the parents understand this jargon.
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Impact of Exceptionality
The teacher should make sure that positives are stated first – no matter what issues there are, there is always something positive that can be said. Then lead to the needs.
The meeting will begin with the impact of the exceptionality. Basically, this will remind parents what the school has listed their child’s exceptionality as and how it affects daily life in school. This will include a transition plan if the student is transitioning to middle or high school, or to college.
Parent and Team Considerations
The next step is to review the present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. Again, this reviews the strengths and needs of the student from the previous year. The teacher will want to review the strengths first, and follow with the needs.
The IEP team will then let the parent know their considerations for the following year. Will they keep things the same, will they increase or decrease time out of the classroom for specialized assistance, will they add or decrease services? These are all things that will be discussed. The parent(s) will be invited to share their advice and information so that the team can make an informed decision for the student.
Goals and Objectives
The special education teacher will then review the fourth quarter goals and the results from those goals, and then lead into new goals and objectives for the new year. The parent(s) will have input here, as well. At this time, the team will also add, decrease or keep the same, the services that have been previously used. Times and dates will be added, as well as accommodations and least restrictive environments.
Notice and Consent
If there have been many changes, the parents will have to sign a notice of consent saying the changes are what they agree too. If there are no major changes, parents will only need to sign a paper saying they were at the meeting.
The entire meeting should not last longer than an hour or so. The teachers and service providers must realize that the parents’ time is valuable, too, and do everything they can to end the meeting in a timely manner.
An IEP meeting isn’t that difficult. It can be scary if you are new to it, but if you follow these steps, new teachers should do just fine.
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