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Tuesday's Tip: Essential Parts of An Individualized Education Program-(IEP) Part 1

There are 18 essential parts of the IEP and today we will focus on the first 9. Sometimes an annotated IEP document can reach 40 pages with no information about the scholar. It is not surprising that some parents find it to be daunting and intimidating. That is why I want to make sure you are aware of, not only each part of the IEP, but also the purpose is for each part. In addition, it is important to know how all the parts come together to create learning opportunities for your scholar. As parents you must understand the function of each part of and how to use each most effectively!

Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance

  • A statement of the scholar's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the scholar’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.

  • Scholar’s current baselines and how they are doing in school

  • All areas of educational need should be addressed

  • Areas of strengths and competency-based information

  • It should describe how the disability affects performance in class, school, and community

  • It should include present levels of achievement related to the most recent evaluations, results of formative assessments, curriculum-based assessments, transition assessments, results from a functional behavioral assessment, and results of ecological assessments

  • It should also include present levels of achievement related to current post-secondary transition goals (if the scholar's age is 16 or younger if determined appropriate)

  • Progress toward current goals. This does NOT include “they are progressing” without data.

List of Areas of Strengths

  • A strength or relative strength or interests and preferences. IEPs use the scholar's abilities to help work on areas of academic and functional needs as motivators.

  • IEP goals are built around what the scholar can do and how the team can use those abilities to address areas of need. So, they should show up in the Specially Designed Instruction (SDI).

  • Identify and leverage the scholar's strengths, interests, and preferences to improve self-awareness and self-advocacy.

  • It requires gathering more information from scholars as to what they do well and reinforcement to scholars

  • Address self-awareness and what does the scholar know about themselves and have them share that in IEP meetings

  • Use in hard/easy instruction to reduce fatigue or shut down

  • Discover by asking in every goal area of the IEP – What does the scholar do well in math, reading, science, writing and what area are they measuring in the IEP as an area of need vs a strength. (Reading – phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension)

Academic, Developmental, and Functional NEEDS

  • These should reflect at minimum the areas of academic, developmental, and functional needs related to the scholar’s disability listed in the evaluation report done by the school district.

  • Areas of need identified by the IEP team

  • Areas of need have to be addressed in either a goal or Specially Design Instruction (SDI)

  • Areas being addressed in the IEP

How Disability Affects Involvement and Progress in The Curriculum

  • An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the scholar will not participate with peers without disabilities in the general education class, extracurricular, and nonacademic activities

  • The extent of nonparticipation is related to the principle of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and inclusion.

  • Where the scholar spends his or her time at school,

  • How services are provided, and

  • The relationships the scholar develops within the school and community.

  • To the maximum extent appropriate, scholars with disabilities, including scholars in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with scholars without disabilities; and

  • Special classes, separate schooling, or other removals of scholars with disabilities from the general education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general education classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

Parental Concerns for Enhancing the Education of The Scholar

  • As a parent you have specific knowledge of the scholar that must be considered by the team to develop an appropriate IEP.

  • Parent concerns will help drive the goals and services

  • What is working and what is not working educationally, functionally, socially, behaviorally

  • Levels of independence on mastered goals

  • Generalization across environments

  • Wins

  • Update any health information and health concerns

  • Recommendations to the team

  • Any requests for programming changes and why

  • New Areas of need that the school identified that you agree with for your scholar.

  • Areas of need that were not identified that you wish to include or ask for an evaluation

  • Rate of progress concerns

  • Data to support requests

  • Independence with homework

  • Behavioral concerns

  • Priorities

  • Understanding of concepts

  • Communication issues

  • Regression or skills lost

  • Peer issues to be addressed

  • New or relative strengths or interests

  • Issues that prevent your scholar from accessing their education, having meaningful progress commensurate with their ability, addressing unwritten rules that they do not know

  • Issues the school should have known about or knew about

Transition Services

  • For scholars not older than 16 (and may be earlier) as they approach the end of their secondary school education, the IEP must also include statements about what is called transition services, which are designed to help scholars with disabilities prepare for life after high school.

  • IDEA requires that beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the scholar turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team, the IEP must include:

  1. Measurable post-secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills

  2. Transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the scholar in reaching those goals.

  3. If the scholar does not attend the IEP meeting, the school must take other steps to ensure that the scholar’s preferences and interests are considered.

  4. Transition services are a coordinated set of activities for a scholar with a disability that is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the scholar with a disability to facilitate the scholar’s movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation that is based on the individual scholar’s needs taking into account the scholar’s strengths, preferences, and interests.

  5. List service or activity, location, frequency, beginning, and end dates and individual responsible

8) Post School Goals –

  • Based on the age-appropriate assessment, define and project the appropriate measurable post-secondary goals that address education and training, employment, and as needed, independent living.

  • Under each area, list the services/activities and courses of study that support that goal. Include for each service/activity the location, frequency, projected beginning date, anticipated duration, and person/agency responsible.

9) Participation in State and Local Assessment

  • Identification of accommodations or alternatives to assessments that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the scholar on State and district-wide assessments

    • the IEP must include a statement of why the scholar cannot participate in the regular assessment and why the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the scholar.

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