Just like your child needs an annual well-child check-up with their pediatrician, your child’s IEP or 504 needs an annual checkup to assure it is effective. There is no better time than summer, so you can request an early meeting to make any necessary changes or updates. It is likely your child’s IEP was drafted 3-5 months ago and many times the meeting ended with promises to update information, add or revise goals, or have further discussions as to placement or services. It is just as likely that somebody dropped the ball and that follow up was never completed. Your child deserves to start the new school year with a well-crafted and effective IEP to give them the best opportunity for a successful school year. But, what does an IEP “Checkup” entail? Well, the following checklist will guide you through the most common flaws, weaknesses, and problems that plague far too many IEPs. You should start with the most recent signed IEP, as an unsigned IEP cannot be implemented. If you left without signing the IEP at the last meeting (something we always recommend) and did not eventually sign, or sign with exception than that IEP is not valid and the last signed IEP remains in force.
- Is all the Personal Information Correct – Review the 1st page (normally titled “demographic data”) and make sure all the information for you and your child is correct (particularly phone numbers and emails)
- Check Dates – IEPs must be reviewed annually, and assessments conducted every three years, commonly referred to as “triennial”
- Are your concerns accurately reflected – The second page of the IEP should have a statement of parental concerns. If they are not reflected or are inaccurate, draft a parental addendum indicating your concerns and desires and ask it be attached as part of the IEP.
- Is the eligibility category correct? – There are thirteen eligibility categories, and a student may have primary and secondary (or more, just because there isn’t a space on the form doesn’t mean an additional area of disability can be ignored). So you agree with the areas of primary and secondary disability listed?
- Areas of need – All known areas of need should be checked. These needs drive placement, services, accommodations, and goals.
- Are the Present Levels of Achievement still accurate? Kids can change fast. If your child made progress or regressed during the summer as that these changes be reflected in the present levels of performance. If you spent thousands of dollars for specialized tutoring, camps, or other programs over the summer you made need to significantly revise these levels, and subsequently the goals and objectives
- Annual Goals –
- Number of Goals – There should be a goal related to every checked area of need.
- Baselines- Each goal should have a current and accurate baseline, much like present levels these may need to be updated to reflect progress or regression over the summer.
- Measurable – Goals should be objectively measurable and progress determined by testing, work samples, or assessment. Don’t settle for “teacher observation.” Everybody should be able to agree that the progress on goals is real.
- Ambitious, but Achievable – The goal should be adequate to drive meaningful progress, but not impossible or unrealistic.
- Responsibility – Each goal should have a named individual responsible for monitoring progress.
- State Testing – The IEP should clearly state if the student is to participate in standardized testing and whether alternate assessments will be used. Additionally, appropriate accommodations and supports for the testing should be clearly spelled out.
- Accommodations & Modifications – All necessary accommodations and modifications should be listed. As your child gets older, ask which are helping and what else might help. Eliminate any unused supports, and add new ones that work. This is also where needed equipment should be specified (Chromebook, AAC device, Ipad, etc.)
- Transition Plan – Beginning with the first IEP in which a student will turn 16 assessment and goals related to three specific areas are required. Schools are responsible for preparing a student for post-graduation success in post-secondary education or training, Employment, and Independent Living Skills. These are some of the most important goals and are all too often neglected or minimized.
- Course of Study – It is never too early to discuss diploma track versus certificate of completion. As enticing as the thought of a diploma may be, graduating with a diploma exits the student from special education support when they would otherwise be entitled to services until age 22.
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