5 Ways to Build a Better IEP™️: Get Great IEPs Without Stress
It’s no secret IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings can be stressful and time-consuming for everyone on the team. Parents don't feel heard, special education assessments only focus on standardized tests, while schools and parents sift through reports and IEP documents filled with complicated acronyms. The reality is, unproductive IEP meetings lead to thousands of dollars in litigation, teacher burnout, and wasted time for kids without the right disability support and services they actually need. So, how do you Build a Better IEP™️?
Here are the 5 Keys to Productive IEPs to repair the meeting process!
Key #1 Parent Input
Champion parents at the IEP table.
Parents have the right to fully participate in all aspects of IEPs. They're a team member related to the provision of IEP and assessment development. They have the right to be heard, and their input reviewed and considered by the team. Parents and caregivers make the BEST advocates. Why? They know their child better than anyone else on the team. They can provide invaluable information by utilizing Parent Letters and Parent Reports. Parents want to understand and review assessments and IEP documents with the team. They can propose mutually agreed upon meeting dates and times. Purposefully incorporating families in every aspect of special education is key.
Key #2 Comprehensive Assessments
Craft sufficiently comprehensive assessments that are user-friendly.
Great reports provide an overview of progress rates and current learning needs. They define academic and functional baselines that move beyond standardized tests to describe "what learning REALLY looks like." Report recommendations can be the start of discussions regarding eligibility and specially designed instruction. What the assessor indicates in their findings needs to be relevant, useful, and meaningful. Great reports are sufficiently comprehensive because they highlight what the child knows, doesn't know, needs to learn, and the impacts of disability. Assessors must make recommendations for team consideration (regardless of qualification).
Key #3 Draft Reports & IEPs
Before meetings, share documents with everyone (including parents).
Eliminate time reviewing known information by sharing drafts before meetings begin. Forwarding goal progress reports, present levels of academic and functional performance (PLAAFP), curriculum measures, and data collection, gives time for parents to digest information, and ensures true collaboration, right from the start! Drafts do NOT pre-determine placement, as long as team members fully understand shared documents are in "draft" format. Previewing reports and IEPs also ensures every member of the team is fully prepared to present their findings. Drafts increase the likelihood that a complete offer of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is provided to families at the conclusion of the meeting.
Key #4 Team Collaboration
Working across the aisle is the only way to develop a comprehensive IEP.
Through the bottom-up approach to IEP development, schools ask for input and include ALL members in team discussions. Reaching across the table restores trust between parents and schools. Asking questions and getting input from all stakeholders (including parents) is essential. Working as a team, members can craft dynamic plans that are child-centered and strength-based. Throughout the assessment process, evaluators collaborate to create baselines and multi-disciplinary reports with everyone. Schools working alongside parents increase the likelihood that students will achieve meaningful progress in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
Key #5 Outcome-Based IEPs
Why are IEPs any different from business meetings? They're not…
Being professional and courteous is essential. Positive negotiation techniques (yes, dialogue is part of IEP development) prepares every member for multiple avenues. Focusing on outcome-based solutions vs. position-based arguments re-aligns IEP development with a child's unique learning needs.
The key is to proactively communicate before, during and after meetings. Through strategic changes, teams can listen to understand and allow others to save face. Encourage children to attend their own meetings (it's never too early) to ask questions and have their preferences taken into consideration. Use the child's name often and avoid "I statements." Special education is individualized for the student based on need vs. “disability”. Formalizing input by changing how and when parents communicate ensures requests are documented and reviewed by the team. Special education is a team approach.
So now that you know what to do, HOW do you repair the process?
Get help at Rise Educational Advocacy and Consulting, LLC. Discover our IEP trainings and virtual courses, today.
Together, we can Build a Better IEP™️...