Is Your Child's IEP Doing Enough?
This Talk has now concluded.
Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to view the questions that were asked and our expert's answers.As a parent, you are a critical member of your child’s IEP team. Join NCLD’s Parent Leader, Mark Halpert, as he shares options for what you can do if you think your child’s IEP isn’t doing enough to help your child and how to make sure your child is on track for achieving his or her full potential if they have a 504 plan rather than an IEP.
Mark Halpert will also discuss how to:
- Make sure the IEP goals are specific enough and tied to your state’s standards
- Monitor your child’s progress towards the annual IEP goals
- Share your concerns regarding your child’s progress towards the IEP goals, and especially about IEP strategies that do not seem to be working for your child
- Work with your school to ensure the IEP supports specially designed instruction and services
- Ensure that your child’s IEP also includes a transition plan that focuses on postsecondary goals (college, vocational interests, possible career choices)
Read more about Mark Halpert
- Does his present performance indicate his capabilities may be greater than previous tests indicated and therefore updated testing may be in order?
- Should your child be mainstreamed, probably with support (e.g. an aide) for part of the day?
- Previous IEP with your comments
- Outside evaluations
- Your data on Present Level of Performance
- Your observations on what is working and what is not
- Your spouse, your child and a 3rd party
- Pre-written goals — the school will likely have their version and you should have yours
- An open mind — sometimes schools and parents will be on the same page and sometimes there is a real clash — be open to a collaborative meeting
- First, I think they could share as much as possible about present level of performance before the meeting.
- I would like to see the meeting between three or four school personnel and the parents and others--too often we have seen parents outnumbered eight or nine to one.
- Encourage both the parents and the child to come.
- Set more challenging goals. In business we are not expected to hit every goal nor should schools be expected to do so. We need to collectively set more ambitious goals.
- Share resources that are available--Bookshare is a good example.
- Expect the staff to be collaborative.
- Your copy of last year’s IEP with your comments
- Your spouse, your child and a 3rd party—could be a friend, but an advocate is suggested where the going is expected to be tough
- Present Levels of Performance, this could include:
- How often your child gets the assignment written correctly in their planner
- How long homework takes on an average night
- A Time Log for reading time — how many hours have you read with your child over the last month
- Reading Comprehension — too often we have seen schools say the child is reading OK, when a formal test would show the child is reading two grades below grade level — we tend to focus on comprehension
- A draft set of goals. Let's say your child is reading at the 2.3 grade level — which is two years below grade level; their standardized test score in reading comprehension is at the 33rd percentile; and homework is taking 2.5 hours, when the teacher says it should only take 40 minutes. Ben does not get his assignments written correctly in his planner 8 out of 10 days — which causes incredible stress. Ben brings home the required books 5 out of 10 days. A good set of goals might be:
- Ben will be reading at the 4.3 grade level by this time next year — at the rate of gaining 2 years each year, he will be at the 6.3 grade level two years from now — or on grade level
- Ben will pass the Standardized Test for Reading — which means he will be at the 45th percentile, or pass the Benchmark Tests by April 30th, that will allow him to be promoted to 5th grade
- The teacher will check every day that Ben has the assignments written correctly in his planner and has the required books every day
- Ben will only be required to do odd number math problems and will stop if Math is taking longer than 45 minutes
- When parents bring in a list of their commitments, it often changes the tone of the meeting from a battle to real collaboration. For the above example:
- Parents will check each day to make sure that Ben has the assignments as complete as possible and has placed the completed work in a place where Ben can find them
- Parents will read at least 25 minutes a night with Ben 5 nights a week
- Not reviewing last year’s goals and lessons learned
- Not having the Present Levels of Performance spelled out in objective terms for the key items
- Having a parent sign off on an IEP, even though they are not satisfied for with what has been agreed to
- Goals that are far too easy to accomplish
- Goals that are flat out not useful
What if the team does not have Present Levels of Performance for key items? They may not have reading comprehension levels or spelling scores. Spelling scores are not nearly as important. I would preempt the challenge by:
- First asking that schools provide the Present Level of Performance for key items
- Math, Writing, Reading and Standardized Test scores – with a 3 year perspective, where available
- If they come to the meeting without key material, I would consider either postponing the meeting, or not completing the IEP until the information is provided and the appropriate goals set
- Teacher uses a multisensory approach
- Teacher responds well when a child asks questions
- Teacher encourages children
- Teacher communicates effectively with parents
- Review last year’s IEP and have a good understanding of what worked, what did not work and lessons learned. I would also thank those people who were really helpful
- Make sure the key players can attend – my spouse, my child and a 3rd party – if my spouse cannot attend I would reschedule, if possible
- I would think about where we need Present Levels of Performance, provide those I can provide (e.g. homework time, how often assignments are written correctly, and how often the right books are brought home) and I may go outside for a Reading Comprehension Assessment
- Write goals – the school will and the best prepared side often prevails — when I have come to meetings with pre-written goals — we usually prevail
- Have an idea of accommodations that are needed
There are times when parents are asking too much, but when I believe the request is valid, I ask for a Notice of Refusal to Provide Services and offer to write it up. Often this results in the school giving you the requested service.
When a child is reading a Social Studies book or a novel, and it is above their reading grade level, how would the school expect him to understand it? These services are included in over 90% of the IEPs we write.
It all starts with PLP or Present Level of Performance.
If there is an area where your son is under-performing — Does everyone agree, and can you turn it not a goal?
When a parent comes into the IEP meeting with the Present Level of Performance and a goal written, you have leveled the playing field.
Schools are denying services at an ever increasing rate and unless parents share the challenge, the officials have no way of knowing how often this is happening and addressing the challenge.
It goes back to the goal and whether the prescribed time is sufficient to help your child to reach the goal
One can only push so far, but if they say the services they are offering will not be sufficient you have a real argument -- the key with getting the right services starts with having the right goal.
As a parent, I always was in communications with teachers, and I would call for an interim IEP if there was a major issue -- schools need to call this IEP within a certain timeframe -- it is 10 days in Florida.
Interim IEPs will become more common when districts do not provide the agreed upon accommodations.
The question I have is whether he can achieve the reading goal without the resource room -- we have found that reading gains or other skills can be achieved better when they are in a resource room.
If the IEP calls for him to be in the resource room, the school should have to involve you in the process of deciding to change placement.
The goals do not need to change.
He is in grade 8 and the class has a helper who offers additional support for my son a few other similarly challenged children.
Regardless of the additional help and reduced workload, I'm not sure the school experience is set up in the most supportive way and may not be the right fit. Do you have any thoughts to offer on this?
Where a child is not able to keep up with the class, a pullout may be far better.
Also, there are many cases where there is a better placement elsewhere in the district -- and the school may not offer them to you. Be sure to ask other parents.
- Is the present setting able to help your child achieve their goals?
- Is there a better placement in your district to help your child?
I will look at a child who is two years behind and you want the goal to be catching up within two years which will require your child to make up two years for each of the next two years.
You can help set the higher goals by sharing what you are doing at home -- some suggestions -- working on a vocabulary word a day where you have extensive conversations, reading for 20 minutes and having your child read and follow an audio book for 20 minutes -- this sets the tone for you doing more than your fair share.
The key is to frame the conversation around when your child will be back on grade level and being persistent.
How should an advocate function in that role and what are the boundaries an advocate should observe?
Make sure to get references from other parents like you.
I would refuse to sign the IEP and suggest we reconvene when the principal can be there. Objective (measurable) and stretch (challenging, bur realistic) goals are the cornerstone of an effective IEP and do not sign the IEP until you are satisfied.
I would contact them and ask them if they want to resolve the issue or do they want you to contact the administration?
I believe it is important to get this right -- if the teacher continues to refuse -- I would ask for an interim meeting -- if they do cooperate I would write them a thank you note.
- Schools provide at least grade level equivalents for reading comprehension and math
- Parents provide how much time is required to do homework and the issues involved -- if homework time is an issue or assignments are not written correctly
Insist on a grade level the present level of performance for reading comprehension.
Today's Parent Talk has concluded. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful questions and special thanks to our expert, Mark Halpert, for sharing his time and expertise with us today.
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