Dust off that IEP!
It’s time for back-to-school and also a good time for parents to review their child’s IEP. First of all, it’s probably been a while since you looked at it and time has a way of fading memories. Secondly, you should check to see if that IEP will meet your child’s needs for this new school year. If you feel that changes are needed to the IEP, you can request an IEP team meeting. Here are some key sections of the IEP to read over:
Present Level of Academic and Functional Performance (PLAAFP). Depending on how long ago the IEP was written and the amount of progress your child has made, these statements may provide a poor description of your child. One would hope that this year’s teachers would look at the IEP progress reports as well as the IEP, but you can’t count on that. If there is a real disconnect between the PLAAFP and your child’s current functioning, you should communicate that to the teachers so that they can plan appropriately.
Annual Goals. For each annual goal, check to see if your child is making progress at a pace that will allow him to reach that goal by the time the IEP expires. If progress has been much slower than expected, you may want to talk with the teachers or therapists about what can be done differently to get better results (e.g. Different strategy? More service time? Individual vs. small group instruction?). If your child has already reached the goal, consider setting a new goal at a higher level. Is there a skill area not currently covered by the IEP that should be added?
General Education Program Participation. Are any changes needed in the parts of the school day that your child is in the regular education or special education setting? Do the accommodations, modifications, supports and/or assistive technology match up with what your child will need this year? The expectations and demands change as students move from grade to grade. Your child may be in a new school building. If your child’s functioning has changed for better or worse, she may need different types of support now.
Specially Designed Instruction and Related Services. As you think about the previous parts of the IEP, consider whether any changes are needed in the amount, frequency or location of your child’s special education and related services.
At the very least, looking over the IEP will remind you of what’s on it. That should help you make sure that things are put into place properly at the beginning of the school year to give your child the best chance for success. That will be a whole lot better than trying to fix things after there is a problem.