By Dennise Goldberg
October 20, 2012
We all know how important it is to have an IEP that addresses our children’s academic, developmental and functional needs, to ensure they are appropriately prepared for an independent future. Therefore, as parents, we have to make sure our children’s IEPs includes the necessary information to prepare them for life after high school.
The results of your child’s most recent assessments, report cards, state tests, school personnel and parent input will assist the team in developing an appropriate IEP.
Your child’s IEP should include the following information:
1.) A statement of your child’s Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance.
"Academic achievement" generally refers to a child’s performance in academic areas (e.g., reading or language arts, math, science and history). “Functional performance” generally refers to skills or activities that are not considered academic or related to a child’s academic achievement. It is often used in the context of routine activities of everyday living. This section should include input from the child’s parents regarding their concerns as well as their child’s strengths.
2.) A statement of your child’s eligibility category.
The thirteen eligibility categories are autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury or visual impairment including blindness.
3.) A statement of the Special Education, Related Services, Supplementary Aids and Services provided to your child.
All services should be based on Peer-Reviewed Research to the extent practical. “Peer-reviewed research” generally refers to research that is reviewed by qualified and independent reviewers to ensure that the quality of the information meets the standards of the field before the research is published. However, there is no single definition of ‘‘peer reviewed research’’ because the review process varies depending on the type of information to be reviewed.
We believe it is beyond the scope of these regulations to include a specific definition of ‘‘peer-reviewed research’’ and the various processes used for peer reviews.
4.) A statement of Measurable Goals, including Academic and Functional.
While many parents focus their attention on placement and services, they inadvertently overlook the goals section, which is one of the most essential components of an IEP.
The discussion of the proper amount of services and placement will be decided directly based on the written IEP goals. This is why it’s important to write effective IEP goals for all areas of need.
5.) A statement of your child’s Program Modifications, Accommodations or Supports for school personnel.
Accommodations do not reduce grade-level standards but rather help provide access to the curriculum.
Accommodations can include visual presentation, auditory presentation, multi-sensory presentation, response, setting, organization, timing and scheduling. Modifications actually lower learning expectations and should only be used if this is the only way for the child to be successful. Parents must understand if modifications to grade level standards are being made their child may be at risk for not meeting graduation requirements.
6.) A statement of any accommodations that your child is receiving on State or District Wide Assessments.
To ensure your child is being tested in the appropriate environment. Students who test in smaller groups tend to feel more comfortable and experience less anxiety. Also, if the IEP Team determines that the child shall take an alternate assessment, a statement of why should be included that describes why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment, and which particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child.
7.) The projected date for the beginning of Services, Frequency, Location and Duration.
All details on when the service begins, hours of service, end of service, where service occurs and how long service will be given.
8.) No later than your child’s 16th birthday (or earlier - 14 in MA - based on state law) - A Transition Plan in the IEP outlining Post-Secondary and Independent Living Skills goals, with Transition Services listed on how the goals will be accomplished.
Transition services outlined in IDEA state that the IEP must include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills.
Also, it must include the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals. Your child’s needs, likes and dislikes must be considered when developing this plan, so it’s imperative that your child be an active participant in the process.
9.) No later than 1 year prior to your child’s age of majority, a statement that your child has been informed of their rights when they reach the age of majority, which in most states is 18 years old.
Once your child is 18 (check for the age of majority in your state), they have the right to sign their IEP; parent’s rights transfer to the child. Basically, your child holds their own educational rights and can make decisions on their own, unless you have a document signed by a judge giving you full conservatorship.
10.) A description of your child’s appropriate placement in the Least Restrictive Environment.
Least Restrictive Environment is defined as “In General. To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”