The writer discusses the challenges they faced in getting accommodations for themselves and their child and shares the valuable insights they gained into the IEP process for children with disabilities. They provide essential information to help parents understand IEPs and how to effectively advocate for their child.
What is included in an IEP?
- Current performance: Evaluation of the child’s current performance in school through tests and assignments.
- Annual goals and objectives: Reasonable goals for the child to achieve within a year, often broken down into short-term objectives.
- Progress tracking: Regular testing or feedback from teachers to track the child’s progress.
- Special education and related services: Detailed description of the student’s special education program and how it caters to their needs, such as one-on-one aides or special faculty training.
- Educational placement: Ensuring the child is in the least restrictive environment.
- Transition services: Addressing the courses the child needs to reach their post-school goals, starting at age 14 or earlier if appropriate.
- Testing adaptations: Specifying testing accommodations, such as extra time or wheelchair accessible tests, and whether the child will participate in state tests.
- Duration of services: Frequency and location of the child’s individual program.
Least restrictive environment (LRE) is a guiding principle for a child’s education plan, emphasizing that children with an IEP should be included in general education as much as possible, only being placed in separate classes or schools if it significantly impairs their education in the general classroom.
Preparing for the IEP Meeting
Three key ways to prepare and advocate for your child:
1. Gather documents
Collect your child’s school records, diagnosis, and treatment information to ensure thorough documentation and support your advocacy for necessary accommodations.
2. List strengths, weaknesses, and support needs
Create a list of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, along with any specific support needs, to ensure nothing is overlooked during the meeting.
3. Know your rights
Understand your rights, including the right to receive copies of district evaluations, the ability to audio-record the meeting with prior notice, and the right to a translator if needed. You can also bring a friend or advocate to provide support during the meeting.
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