How to get the best IEP (part one)
You should have an IEP when you first realize your child has problems, most schools will not give your child one until he/she has been evaluated by a professional. In most cases your child will not have obvious diagnoses such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy etc. so the first thing you need to do is get a diagnosis by a psychologist either a private one or the school psychologist.
What do I put into my child’s IEP?
Make a list of the everyday things your child has difficulty with such as organizing, following directions, holding a pencil the proper way, tying shoes, listening, reading etc.
Anything that can be used to help him reach his educational goals can be put into an IEP. An example would be that the student “will write his assignments accurately into his notebook each day and put the due date on his calendar”. Another example might be that the student “will be able to choose between two activities successfully”.
These IEP goals are put into the plan to enable them to work more effectively in the classroom. Each goal should have percentages of improvement written into them to allow for 100% completion within a year’s time. It would look something like this:
“will be able to choose between two activities successfully”. A success rate of 25% or 1 out of 4 will be completed by the end of the first grading period, 50% OR 2 out of 4 completed by the end of the second grading period, 75% or 3 out of 4 completed by the end of the third grading period and a rate of 100% or 4 out of 4 by the end of the final grading period.
How to get an IEP from the teacher?
If your child has not yet gotten an IEP you may need to write the teacher, I also write the Special Education Department and the principal of the school. Write the date at the top of the page and write the name and title of the persons you are addressing at the top left hand of the page. The body should state what you are asking. You will want to say who you are, who your child is and what the diagnosis is. Let them know he’s been diagnosed by a local doctor and give the name.
Next let them know what kinds of things you would like written in such as goals for making choices, interacting with other children, learning social skills, reading, organizing etc. Choose about two or three you see as challenges for your child. Don’t worry about writing goals, this will be done by the teacher by the date of the IEP.
Know your state laws. There is a time limit when an IEP needs to be scheduled and finished and you should write this on your calendar for referral. If the school has not responded in a timely manner, you may want to write another note letting them know they are running out of time. You may need to remind them that you are aware of the time frame.
I would suggest not going into an IEP meeting alone. Take your spouse, a good friend or anyone who knows your child well and can help buffer what may end up being a tense relationship while trying to make sure your child gets his needs taken care of.
I don’t want to confer that IEP’s are difficult to get, but sometimes depending on the circumstances and schools etc, they can be a bit hard to navigate through when you have the best interest of your child at heart.