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How to Have a Successful IEP Meeting

How to Have a Successful IEP Meeting

Do you approach IEP meetings with fear and dread?  Here are some quick IEP reminders to improve the process AND your confidence.

How to Have a Successful IEP Meeting:

  • EVERY child can learn and make progress.How to Have a Successful IEP Meeting
  • The “I” in IEP stands for individualized. Your child’s IEP must reflect your child.
  • Special Education is NOT a place. Special Education is the supports and services your child receives through his or her IEP.
  • On the IEP, Placement is NOT a location. Placement is the amount of time spent with special education services.
  • As you prepare for the meeting think about:
    • What has been accomplished?
    • What has worked well?
    • What needs more work?
    • What are my concerns? What are my child’s concerns?
  • Check the meeting notice. Make sure you know who is attending and their role in the process. If there is someone surprising on the list (such as a social worker when your child doesn’t receive social work services, call the case manager to find out the purpose of the person’s attendance).
  • Create a vision statement for your child’s life both now and for the future. Work backwards to determine what he needs to accomplish this school year in order to meet the long-term goals.
  • Gather supporting documents such as private evaluations, therapist notes, research-based articles relevant to your child’s situation, etc.
  • Determine if someone will be attending with you such as a private therapist, evaluator and/or advocate. If you are bringing someone, inform the school as soon as possible.
  • Ask for a draft copy of the IEP. Review it in relation to the past IEP(s) and determine if the goals are moving in an appropriate direction. Make a list of questions, concerns and suggestions.
  • The IEP should be specific, detailed and easily understandable by anyone – even to someone who is not a member of the current IEP Team.
  • Statements about your child’s Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance are critical parts of the IEP. They must be based on quantified data and be very specific.
  • Goals need to be logical, measurable, and relevant to your child, and based on data.
  • IEP teams should strive to reach a consensus. There is NO voting!
  • Stay focused. Don’t get sidetracked.
  • Ask for a break if you need one.
  • Lack of money and/or other resources does not exempt a school district from providing what a child needs.
  • Don’t leave the meeting without a copy of your child’s IEP and the District’s notes.
  • After the meeting, review the IEP notes and submit additional notes and/or corrections if the school notes do not reflect everything that was said and/or if they misrepresent what was said.
  • If you are unhappy with decisions that have been made, take steps to continue working with the school to ensure your child’s needs are being adequately addressed.

NSPT offers school advocacy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Extended School Year (ESY): What Is It and How Do I know if My Child Needs It?

IEP teams are required to evaluate the need for Extended School Year (ESY) services correctly and fairly. However, there are no comprehensive eligibility criteria in the law, making the process somewhat vague and inconsistent across teams.  Following are some guidelines taken from IDEA and federal court decisions:

  1. ESY cannot be determined by any one single criterionExtended Summer Services

Following are several factors that the team can consider when determining the need for ESY services.  Regression/recoupment is the more common factor; however, schools must not use it as the ONLY factor.

  1. Regression/recoupment

Regression refers to a decline in knowledge and skills that can result from an interruption in education; recoupment is the amount of time it takes to regain the prior level of functioning. The question is whether or not the benefits gained by the child during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if he is not provided an educational program during the summer months. When considering regression/recoupment, teams must consider not only academic skills but also related services.  The key question is whether the child needs services in the summer in order to secure the minimum benefits of a free and appropriate public education in the fall.

  1. Emerging skills

Emerging skills (as when a child is on the brink of learning to read) – can and should be incorporated into the eligibility analysis. This is because the child is in a critical stage of developing a skill which has great potential for increasing his/her self-sufficiency. If such a skill is not completely acquired and mastered, it is likely that the current level of acquisition will be lost due to the interruption of summer vacation.

  1. Nature and severity of the child’s disability

Another criterion that can be considered in the eligibility determination is the nature and severity of the child’s disability. Although no disability category may be excluded from consideration for ESY, the nature and severity is a key factor in the ESY eligibility determination.  Children with severe disabilities are more likely to be involved in ESY programs, since their regression may be more significant, and their recoupment abilities may extend over longer times.

  1. Notice and Timing

It is important to make a decision about ESY early enough in the year to allow the parents adequate time to exercise their right to an appeak.  The student’s eligibility for ESY should considered at each annual review meeting.  The district must document the discussion and the decision reached after consideration of ESY eligibility at each annual review meeting.

  1. Content and duration of ESY services

Some ESY services may extend over the summer, while others provide only for periodic contact with professionals, or assistance to parents in providing instruction or reinforcement to their children. The IEP team should determine the number of weeks, days per week, and hours per day that each student receiving ESY should be provided. Also, the content of the child’s ESY program must be determined on an individual basis.

  1. Ability of parents to provide an educational structure at home

One of the standards that needs to be considered in determining need for ESY is the ability of the parents to provide an educational structure at home. If parents can provide the proper structure at home, the regression and recoupment issue will not be as severe, thus ESY services through the school staff may not be necessary.

Interventions during the summer may be provided by other than school staff. For example, parents may be able to provide structured opportunities for their children to practice specific skills. Perhaps the student’s utilization of a computer software program will be sufficient to maintain a critical skill. Perhaps accessing an existing community resource, such as a summer recreation program, will meet the need. If so, the provision of such parental services will not necessitate an ESY program. The IEP committee may recommend ESY services after concluding that (a) parents are not able or willing to provide home structured opportunities, or (b) the involvement of ESY staff during the summer is necessary to offset the impact of regression and recoupment.

Taken together, ESY is:

  • Based only on the individual student’s skills that are critical to his/her overall educational progress as determined by the IEP committee.
  • Designed to maintain student mastery of critical skills and objectives represented on the IEP and achieved during the regular school year.
  • Designed to maintain a reasonable readiness to begin the next year.
  • Based on multi-criteria and not solely on regression.
  • Considered as a strategy for minimizing the regression of skill, thus shortening the time needed to gain back the same level of skill proficiency that existed at the end of the school year.
  • Deliverable in a variety of environments and structures such as:
    • Home with the parent teaching, and staff consulting
    • School based
    • School based with community activities
    • Related services alone or in tandem with the above

NSPT offers school advocacy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!