Working as a team to write an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for your child can be nerve racking. We are here to help. Below you will find information to empower you to advocate for your child in their school environment. 

What is an IEP?

An Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, is a document that describes the special services your child will get to meet their educational needs. It is a legal contract between you and the school. IEPs can take a lot of time to develop, but it’s a great way for parents, service providers, and school staff to collaborate. An IEP is more than just a written legal document (or “plan”). It’s a map that lays out the program of special education instruction, supports, and services kids need to make progress and thrive in school. An IEP outlines all services that a child will receive outside of the regular education setting such as speech-language therapy services, occupational therapy services, physical therapy services, special education (academic) services, behavioral supports, etc. IEPs are covered by special education law or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They’re created for eligible kids who attend public school, which includes charter schools. Some private schools may also offer an ISP (Individual Services Plan) if they contract with services through their local public school district.  If you’re interested in services and your child attends a private school, we suggest you contact your administrators at that school for more information.
There are many benefits for your child receiving services through an IEP. The process begins with an evaluation that shows a student’s strengths and challenges. The first step in the process is reviewing existing data and getting consent for an evaluation.  This evaluation can usually be conducted per parent request, teacher request, or recommendation by the school.  The evaluation could include a number of service providers conducting assessments depending on the area(s) of concern (speech, language, fine motor, academics, etc.). Families and schools use the results to create a program of services and supports tailored to meet the student’s needs. As a parent of a child receiving services through an IEP plan, you have legal rights that are outlined in the parent rights document through the OSDE website.  Parents and guardians are vital members of an IEP team, and you have the right to contribute to the decisions that impact your child’s education.  An IEP plan not only outlines services and goals, but it also may include accommodations within the classroom as well as a Behavior Intervention Plan if one is needed.  This behavior plan outlines the schools’ process if/when a child’s behaviors impact their education and/or the education of other students. When the members of a child’s IEP team sit down together and consider how the child will be involved in and participate in school life, they must be sure that the resulting IEP contains the specific information required by IDEA, our nation’s special education law. Here’s a brief list of what IDEA requires:

  • A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.
  • A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals.
  • A description of how the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured, and when periodic progress reports will be provided.
  • A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child.
  • A statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel will be provided to enable the child to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals. 
  • An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in extracurricular and nonacademic activities.
  • A statement of any individual accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and district-wide assessments.
  • The projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications, and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of those services and modifications.

With so much information in an IEP, it is easy to get confused. you can always ask questions to your IEP team before, during, and/or after these meetings.  Don’t be afraid to ask for more information or an explanation, if needed.

Navigating IEP Meetings

IEP meetings can be stressful, knowing what happens and what to expect in IEP meetings can make it easier to navigate them.  At an IEP meeting, the entire IEP team will be there. Your team may consist of special education teachers or providers, regular education teachers, a representative of the school system, an individual who can interpret the evaluation results, and YOU. The student is also invited to the meeting typically at the middle school and/or high school level.  Here is a brief breakdown of what to expect and/or what might happen in an IEP meeting: 

 

  • You should be offered a copy of parent rights at each IEP meeting (or sent digitally).
  • If you aren’t given a draft copy of the IEP before the meeting – you can request one.
    • The number of forms and wording can be overwhelming – let your IEP team help.
      • You also have the right to review the forms with others, such as your private clinician.
      • You can also ask to bring an advocate or other professional to the meeting for support.
        • Keep in mind that outside advocates are not IEP team members, but can still provide input.
  • ALL IEP team members have the right to provide input.
    • The IEP document is usually kept in draft form so that changes can be made.
    • The school team may not agree with your ideas/suggestions or be able to implement them, but the goal is to compromise…keep in mind that they may have limitations on what they can provide, but the administrator provides input on this.
    • The IEP team will recommend certain services for your child – remember, the paperwork is in Draft form for a reason.
    • The amount of time (Services Page) in services is important.
    • Any time that is listed for services is typically a time spent outside the regular education classroom.
    • There is also a section for “Percent of time a child is in regular education”.
      • “Inclusion”/”Push-In” = time a child spends in a general education classroom with typical age-related peers.
      • For ideal social/language opportunities, this should include lunch, recess, and specials (at the very least).
        • There may be reasons why they cannot participate during these times, but the team must agree.
        • Schools may be able to provide a TA/adult to help facilitate participation during these inclusion times.
  • Consider if accommodations are something that you think your child may benefit from (either in the classroom or with testing).  Below is a list of possible accommodations that may be available; remember, these may not always be appropriate, and the IEP team will be able to provide recommendations and suggestions for what would be best for your child.
    • Example Accommodations:
      • Provide an opportunity to leave class for resource assistance
      • Provide visual aids 
      • Allow extra time for oral response
      • Provide study carrel for independent work
      • Provide immediate feedback
      • Provide peer tutoring /peer-working arrangement. 
      • Explain directions in detail as needed
      • Use a variety of questioning techniques
      • Use alerting cues
      • Provide short instruction
      • Allow minimal auditory distractions
      • Tape-record directions/ assignments
      • Have students write instruction
      • Provide instructional aids
      • Provide frequent feedback
      • Encourage classroom participation
      • Provide hands-on learning activities.

Know your rights

Parents often ask us questions or express concerns about their child’s IEP. The first place to start is knowing your rights as a parent. Take time to review and read your parent’s rights provided to you at the beginning of an IEP meeting. You can also find them on the OSDE website. During the IEP meeting, you should feel welcome to ask questions and express concerns to the team just like any other IEP team member. You can also request that the team note your questions and concerns on the IEP document. Another helpful tip is to document your communication with schools through email.

Parents' Rights

Handbook

Staying on top of your child's IEP meeting

An IEP is good for one calendar year, which means that they usually carry over into the next school year.  The IEP journey continues well after your child’s plan is put into place. After the initial IEP meeting, you will continue to be a member of the IEP team and will play a key role in making sure the plan is working and your child is making progress. Like any other IEP team member, you have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time.  The IEP team is required to meet annually to develop a subsequent/annual IEP, and they are required to discuss eligibility (MEEGS) every three years.  Your child’s IEP will change over time depending on their needs. If your child continues to receive services as they get older, you will also be involved in creating a plan for transitioning out of this IEP toward the end of high school. Regardless of age, you will continue to be your child’s number one advocate and an important part of the IEP team.

Still need some help? 

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CONTACT

6905 NW 122nd St. 
Oklahoma City, OK 73142
P. 405. 603. 6622
F. 405. 722. 3244
E. info@speechpathway.net
Open Monday-Friday 8am-7pm