IEP Overview: A Little Help and Resources!

We have some valuable resources that have helped us in preparing and implementing Individualized Education Plans, as well as articles on the IEP process.  Feel free to comment below on your favorite resources so we can check them out!


Stage 1: Prereferral ActivitiesTeaching Upstairs' IEP-101 Board

The prereferral process is used to screen students before a more formal identification processes are used.  In general, before any formal referral to special education is made, teachers and family members work together to see whether educational or behavioral difficulties can be resolved in the general education classroom.  These interventions can be developed by the instructional support team and should be interventions that can be used in the general education setting.  If these interventions are successful then there is no referral needed.  If they are unsuccessful then the next stage is engaged.  (This process could be the first two tiers of a school’s RTI system.)

Effective Accommodations for IEPs  A complete chart to help IEP teams find specific accommodations in instruction, assessment, classroom management, organization, and more. This printable resource will be especially valuable to new teachers who are becoming accustomed to IEP’s.
Guidelines for Behavioral Observations  The guidelines outlined in this article will be helpful in performing a thorough behavioral observation. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable.
Positive Descriptions of Student Behavior An extensive list of verbs and phrases that will help you to prepare positive, descriptive statements about a student’s behavior. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable when they’re writing their first report cards and progress reports.
Preparing for an IEP Use these questions to focus your thoughts and those of other IEP team members.
The IEP Cycle: The General Educator’s Role The general educator’s role in the IEP process is an extremely important one from beginning to end.
Using General Education Standards with IEPs  A chart that outlines whether or not to change or modify a general education standard for an IEP (Individualized Education Program).
IDEA Requirements  This page outlines the legal requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Strategies for Effective Document Management  Managing mounds of paper requires organization. These suggestions are successful strategies for creative and efficient document management.
Learning Disabilities: Glossary of Terms  Discover a glossary that provides definitions of important terms related to learning disabilities.

Stage 2: Referral and Initial PlanningIEP AT A GLANCE FREEBIE

Referral sources can include: the parent, the teacher, other professionals. After a referral is made, school personnel must follow it up. Parents must be notified of the school’s concern and must give written permission for an evaluation. After this decisions must be made about what kinds of evaluation data is needed and who will be responsible for collecting the data.

Online training in writing an IEP
This online training is available via California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT) and is specific to benchmarks related to CA content standards. But it’s also conveniently based on IDEA 2004 and deals with writing measurable goals and objectives, a skill quite central to writing effective IEPs.IEP AT A GLANCE FREEBIE DOWNLOAD

Stage 3: Multidisciplinary Evaluation

During the evaluation process assessments in academic performance and behavior are completed by specialists (school psychologist, school social worker, school nurse, speech and language pathologist, learning disabilities specialist, or reading specialist.)  IDEA 2004 has guidelines for these evaluations and assessments that must be upheld.  The tests must be appropriate, valid, and as free as possible from cultural or racial bias. All evaluation and assessment materials must be administered in the student’s native language. The evaluation team must represent several disciplines and must include at least one teacher or specialist in the area of the suspected disability. The specialists on the multidisciplinary evaluation team administer tests and obtain other evaluation data.

Stage 4: The IEP Meeting- Writing the IEPGoal Setting for IEPs

After evaluations are conducted and gathered, parents are informed of the IEP meeting.  This is a meeting that the eligibility for special education is determined and the IEP is written.   The guidelines on who must attend and how the IEP is written must be followed.  In addition to determining the necessary special education services, the IEP team also determines the need for related services that may be required to enable a child with a disability to benefit from special education. Related services may include transportation and developmental, corrective, and other supportive services.

Stage 5: Implementing the IEP Teaching Plan

This is the teaching portion of the assessment-teaching process. It occurs after the IEP document has been written. During this stage, the student is taught in the agreed upon setting and receives specialized instruction designed to help the student reach the goals set forth in the IEP.

Universal Design for Learning  A definition of universal design for learning.
Effective Teaching Strategies  Use a list that provides a quick reference to the methodology of effective teachers.
Assistive Technology for Students with Mild Disabilities  These simple adaptations can improve the learning experience of many children.
Teaching Mathematics to Gifted Students in a Mixed-Ability Classroom  Tips on how to teach math to gifted students in your regular classrooms.
Repeated Reading  Use a variety of repeated reading activities to improve reading skills.
Guiding Principles for Assessment Accommodations  Guiding principles for assessment accommodation.
Explaining Assessment Accommodations to Families  This pamphlet explains test-taking accommodations to the families of special needs students.
Accommodations Checklist  Use this checklist to ensure appropriate assessment accommodations are used in test taking.
More Assessment & Accommodation

Stage 6: Review and Reevaluation of Student’s Progress

This stage calls for the review and reevaluation of the IEP plan in terms of the student’s progress. The IEP must include explanations that show how this evaluation will be accomplished, who will conduct the evaluation, and what assessment instruments and criteria will be used. IDEA-2004 requires that the child’s parents be informed of their child’s progress toward reaching annual goals as frequently as parents of non disabled children are informed. One way to do this is to send the parents a progress report that accompanies the student’s report card.

Who’s Who in the IEP Meetings…

IDEA 2004 specifies the participants for the IEP meeting. Here are the roles of each of the participants that are a part of these meetings.

The parents of the child with a disability are required to be made aware and can agree or disagree with services that are discussed.  They have the right to a mediator.   They can offer insight into how their child learns, what his or her interests are, and other aspects of the child that only a parent can know. They can listen to what the other team IEPmembers think their child needs to work on at school and share their suggestions. They can also report on whether the skills the child is learning at school are being used at home.

At least one general education teacher of the child will need to participate in the IEP meeting if the child is in the general education classroom.  The general education teacher has a great deal to share with the team. For example, he or she might talk about: the general curriculum in the regular classroom; the aids, services or changes to the educational program that would help the child learn and achieve; and strategies to help the child with behavior, if behavior is an issue.  They will be part of the writing of the IEP and should have data from classroom assessments.

Special Education Teacher
If appropriate the Special Educator can contribute important information and experience about how to educate children with disabilities. This educator can bring information and experience in issues as: how to modify the general curriculum ; the supplementary aids and services that the child may need to be successful in the general education classroom and elsewhere; how to modify testing ; and other aspects of individualizing instruction to meet the student’s unique needs.

A Representative of the School or School District
This individual should be knowledgeable about the general education curriculum and is also knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the school or school district.  It is important that this individual have the authority to commit resources and be able to ensure that whatever services are set out in the IEP will actually be provided.

An Individual Who Can Interpret the Instructional Implications of Evaluation Results
This IEP team member must be able to talk about the instructional implications of the child’s evaluation results, which will help the team plan appropriate instruction to address the child’s needs.

Individuals with Knowledge or Special Expertise About the Child
The parent or the school system can invite these individuals to participate on the team. Parents, for example, may invite an advocate who knows the child, a professional with special expertise about the child and his or her disability, or others (such as a vocational educator who has been working with the child) who can talk about the child’s strengths and/or needs. The school system may invite one or more individuals who can offer special expertise or knowledge about the child, such as a paraprofessional or related services professional.

The Student
This is only when appropriate, by being present it can allow the student a strong voice in their own education and can teach them a great deal about self-advocacy and self-determination.

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