Most of those of you that have IEPs (either students, parents or teachers) have probably already had them as May is late in the year to conduct these things. But due to the way or department is organized, I have the majority of mine late next week and LEA Mr. Pyle's and some others the week after that.
Preparation for an IEP begins long before the meeting, and indeed, long before an invitation is sent or before a date is set. There are several different triggers that result in an IEP taking place:
1. An annual review – this is the most common, as the law states that IEPs must be reviewed annually. For the majority of students in sp. ed, this is the most common reason to have an IEP and it is the only one they will have during the year.
2. New eligibility: In a growing county like ours, whenever a new student comes in, they go through an eligibility process. Most of the time it is a review of previous records and they determine eligibility from that. Then we have an IEP to determine placement and ratify the eligibility.
3. New referral – There are two ways a student gets referred in. One is from the early intervention program at the age of 3. The other is through the school's own student support team (SST) process. The IEP represents the end of the SST process which is long and comprehensive.
4. Parent request – According to IDEA, a parent can request an IEP at any time for pretty much any reason. If the parent wants a meeting, the school has to conduct one.
5. Change in placement – If the student is going to a more restrictive environment, especially because of behavioral problems, an IEP must be conducted. Major changes in services can also trigger an IEP.
There is also something called an IEP Addendum, which is only slightly less involved than a full-blown IEP. It is usually used to make changes to an existing IEP and carries the full weight of an IEP.
An IEP is essentially a piece of mini-legislation that governs the child's education program. It sets up the who, what, how and where of a child's education. Any disputes will turn, hinge and depend on this one document. Services written into the IEP MUST be provided. I've written a bit on this in the past, which you can read about in the archives in the IEP category. I'm going to talk primarily about annual reviews as the procedures are pretty much the same for all of them.
I'm preparing for the annual review all year long, taking data and collecting work samples (if any) and assessing progress based on previous IEP goals and objectives. I fill out progress reports every 9 weeks, and check which goals have been mastered. As the annual review approaches, I'll do some sort of standardized assessment. Most of the time, this is an individual achievement test but I do an adaptive behavior assessment since my kids are too severe to score above the floor of achievement tests.
Finally it's time to set a date and prepare invitations. I usually do this several weeks in advance. I have a lot of contact with parents so I'll usually ask them for a preferred date and time. Then I prepare a list of invitees to the IEP. It's at this point Ms. B got in trouble. If she had a list and had invited everyone who needed to be there, at least she would have had some reports to share. These need to be sent out to participants as soon as possible so they can prepare ahead of time.
My objective is to have the thing finished 2 days before the meeting so the parent can look at the draft. A parent can then make correction and additions. The point of this is to help the parents arrive prepared, as well as shorten certain portions of the meeting so parents and other professionals can spend their time on what is most important.
Then it is time to actually sit down and write the thing. I'll talk about each section in turn, but this is an overview:
1. Student information (name, Address, telephone etc.)
2. Present level of performance (PLOP)
3. Present level – special considerations
4. Behavior Intervention Plan
5. Modifications and Accommodations.
6. Goals and objectives
7. Transition Plan
8. Service options and placement
10. Individual Healthcare Plan (IHP)
11. Extended school year (ESY)
Basically, the IEP is driven thus:
Currrent functioning –> Goals and objectives–> Service options and placement. Most folks are anxious to jump to placement, but it doesn't work that way. Placement is driven by goals and objectives which are driven by current functioning.