I have been trying to put this interview Everything you need to know about IEP together for months then we entered into distance learning because of the pandemic. I spent a few years on the kid’s school’s PTP board and there were so many parents with anxiety about IEP. They struggled with what the school and teachers were telling them and even coming to terms with what their kids needed and struggled with daily.
I wanted to put together this post to answer any questions that parents may have, the best part of this post is that I interviewed an IEP specialist in one of the best school districts in Minnesota. I’ve also included additional resources at the end of this post, so if you still have questions you can check those out.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IEP
Here is a list of questions most parents have regarding IEP (Individualized Education Programs). The goal to keep in mind here is that we want to do what’s best for our children. This will look different for each child and family. My goal in this post is to give you the resources and confidence to learn as much as you can before making decisions about IEP.
Thank you to Ms. Thompson from Minnesota Schools for her immense help on this post and to the parents that contributed questions.
What is an IEP?
An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan that is written each year for the student. It contains goals and objectives for all the areas a student qualifies for services in, the number of minutes they will receive service, information about attending summer school, paraprofessional support, bussing, accommodations, and modifications that can be provided to the student based on their IEP and information about state and district assessments.
The Individualized Education Program, often called the IEP, is a legal document under United States law that is developed for each public school child in the U.S. who needs special education. It is created through a team of the child’s parents and district personnel knowledgeable about the child’s needs. Wikipedia
Is IEP a free service?
Yes, an IEP is a free service provided by the school district.
How long will the process take?
The process of being identified for special education services typically includes a period of interventions that are done within the classroom to see if progress can be made that way. If interventions are not successful, the special education team becomes involved. If specialized education testing is agreed upon, the district has 30 school days to complete the assessment.
Will my child be treated differently than the rest of the school population because he has an IEP?
Your child will have a special education case manager who is in charge of the IEP. This document will allow the student to receive services based on the areas they qualify in. All efforts are made to make the child’s services the least restrictive. Depending on the needs, services may occur in the general education classroom; students may have some pull out services, or, if the student’s needs are higher, they may have been in a self-contained special education classroom or a fully self-contained school for students with the highest needs.
Will he be placed in a class with children who have similar needs?
All efforts are made to group students together based on their needs and include peer models that help all students be successful.
Is this something that will last for the entirety of his school career?
Each student is different. Some students graduate out of special education services during their school career.
Will he be able to interact with the kids in mainstream classes?
Absolutely! Almost all special education students have access to their general education classrooms and their peers.
What if I feel like my child needs more support than what is being offered or recommended?
As a parent, you can call an IEP meeting at any time to look at a student’s support.
Can my child’s IEP be altered during the school year if necessary?
Yes, your child’s IEP can be altered any time during the school year if the team agrees it is necessary.
What kind of progress can I expect to see?
You can expect to see progress reports periodically throughout the year documenting the student’s progress towards their goals and objectives.
What can I do at home to help with IEP?
The team can discuss ways to help your child based on the areas they qualify for service in. Reading with or to your child is always a great way to start.
What resources do you recommend for parents?
The classroom teacher is a great place to start for resources. The student’s case manager, if they do receive special education services, can also provide resources. There are many sources on the internet or apps that are educational. Again, the classroom teacher or IEP case manager is a great place to start.
Is there an IEP meeting checklist?
Yes, there is a checklist of items that each case manager and service providers must discuss at an IEP meeting. This checklist is often presented as an agenda for the meeting.
What kinds of questions should parents be asking at IEP?
Parents should be asking about the student’s progress on their goals and objectives if they are unclear about them. They should be asking any questions that have come up throughout the year. Many case managers encourage those questions throughout the year, so parents are encouraged to reach out whenever they have concerns.
Any IEP tips for parents?
IEP meetings can contain a lot of information provided to parents. I would say make sure to read the IEP when sent home to make sure they understand everything discussed. If parents have questions, please ask any time. Another tip for parents is to reach out to the case manager with questions or concerns prior to the IEP meeting so that the case manager can include those questions and concerns on the meeting agenda.
What kinds of mistakes do you see parents make regarding IEP?
One of the things that sometimes happens in meetings is that parents don’t reach out throughout the year and come into the meeting with any questions or concerns they have held all year. I would much rather address them as they are happening and encourage parents to reach out at any time, not to wait for the annual IEP meeting. Also, really make sure parents understand everything discussed and not worry if they need something explained again or differently.
More IEP Resources
- A Guide to IEP – from the U.S. Dept. of Education
- IEP – Kid’s Health
- Developing Your Child’s IEP – Parent Center
Your turn, what additional questions do you have about IEPs?