"I truly enjoyed your blog as well (especially the post on graphic novels. I learned how to read through comic books).What I did this week was begin addressing her question by debunking IEP's. As I don't know Sharon's child's specific issues (autism encompasses so many different levels and types of learning, cognitive functioning and educational issues) it may be more helpful addressing IEPs.
Do you think you may add a post in which you provide tips for parents of children with autism? My child has autism, and trying to sort out the lingo such as "IEP" can be confusing. The school also uses the term "case manager" for special education teacher, although I let the school staff know that in my opinion, case managers were not the same as special education teachers."
IEP Basics: Unfortunately there is no standard IEP (Individualized Educational Program) form to be followed which makes it so much more challenging for parents and students to navigate. (Which is why I can't really address who Sharon's "case manager" should be.) There are, however, certain basics to an IEP:
- An IEP is a detailed program delineating specific educational services, accommodations and learning plans for all students receiving special educational assistance;
- The way IEP's are organized will vary but certain information must be included:
- It should accurately describe your child's current school-related performance.
- Annual goals must be stated and broken down into short -term objectives. [Note: make sure these objectives are clearly stated and can be easily assessed.]
- There should be an explanation of how much of the school day (if any) will be spent in the regular classroom vs. resource room vs. self-contained classroom;
- Any test modifications your child will need must be clearly stated. If tests are inappropriate for your child and/or he/she is excused from these tests - that too must be clearly stated. IF your child is excused from testing make sure the IEP specifies how your child will be evaluated in lieu of the standardized test.
- If outside services are needed make sure the IEP states when, where, how frequently the services will be provided and how long the services will last.
- NOTE: Make sure there is a clear plan to evaluate your child's progress. (Some IEPs fall short in this area - make sure your child's does not.)
- Certain individuals must attend the meeting where the IEP is developed and written:
- There must be at least one regular education teacher (if the student is taking part in the 'regular' classroom);
- There must be a special education teacher;
- Someone to discuss test results taken to classify/diagnose the student's learning issues must be present (it could be a school counselor, principal, or district representative and will also vary across schools/states);
- I recommend that a parent ALWAYS be there to advocate for your child's needs, and listen carefully to what is and what is not being said. Do not let professionals leave the room until you understand what is in the IEP.
- The student can (and older kids - should) attend as well.
- The law requires that IEP's be reviewed and/or revised at least once a year, but you can ask for more meetings if you deem them necessary.
- Review grades, test scores, teacher comments (from this year and/or previous years). Make sure you understand your child's needs.
- You may want to invite and/or consult with an outside child advocate to help you articulate your child's needs.
- Come prepared with a list of your child's strengths and weaknesses - make sure these are considered when developing a program. These skills (in addition to academic subjects) can include attention, memory, social skills, physical coordination, ability to express oneself, affinities your child loves doing and what he or she does not, what study strategies seem to work over others... Use this profile to help address his or her issues.
- Research possible options available to kids with your child's learning issues. The web now makes this so much easier!
- Come up with your own list of goals you want achieved over the course of the school year.
- Talk to your child (if appropriate) about what he or she thinks he or she needs/wants.
- If there have been previous IEP's read them -evaluate what worked and what did or did not work - and why this may be the case. Make sure what worked before is modeled again and what did not work is 'tweaked' in this next version.
Helpful links:The following are various websites that will help debunk an IEP.
MY CHILD'S SPECIAL NEEDS A Guide to the Individualized Education Program Archived Information
[PDF] A Parent's Guide to Understanding the IEP Process Welcome Parents
Top 8 Essential Parts of an Individual Education Program Understanding IDEA IEP Requirements - Learn What an IEP Must Contain By Ann Logsdon, About.com Guide
A Student's Guide to the IEP By: Marcy McGahee-Kovac (2002)
Your Child's IEP: Practical and Legal Guidance for Parents By: Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright (2003)
Also, to all who follow this blog, Miz Sharon has a wonderful blog you may want to check out. She regularly presents interesting "finds" (mostly dealing with writing) she's discovered on the internet. You may want to check it out.
So please let me know if this helps, if this addresses your concerns, and please let me and others following know what has and has not worked for you. Finally, like Miz Sharon, please feel free to ask for information on any of your child's learning issues.
Thanks, I hope to hear from you!