Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Word on Special Education--IEPs...well, maybe a few words

Let’s say, a teacher alerts you that your child is struggling or misbehaving in school. A recommendation for the school psychologist to conduct an education evaluation to determine the underlying cause follows the alert.

You agree to the evaluation.
After an evaluation, the school psychologist may determine your child has a disability that requires special education support services. If not, all actions stop. If so, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team meets to discuss your child’s strengths and needs and they and you create an IEP plan.

Welcome to special education.
Here are a few things to consider IF you agree with the school staff—.
Your child is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education—FAPE. FAPE means the special education support services are to be designed to provide——
a) meaningful benefit,
b) significant learning,
c) impact your child’s ability/potential,
d) conform to applicable federal requirements, and
e) is provided at no cost to the parents.

Are your child’s IEP goals measurable and objective?
In order to provide a student with FAPE, an IEP plan must be “reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits.” Your child should experience more than trivial benefits.

Vague IEP Statements are NOT Enough
Vague IEP statements might look like this, LC will “write a correct sentence” with 80% accuracy or “will complete the fourth grade curriculum in reading” or “will improve her organizational skills.” Objective criteria against which achievement can be measured should be provided in the IEP language and specific strategies for adequately evaluating a student’s academic progress. How will you know if teaching methods are effective or revised? Bring an advocate or a Special Education Buddy.