Saturday, June 4, 2011

Top Ten Questions to Ask at an IEP

by dennise
If your child has an IEP, the following top ten list is comprised of generic questions that all parents should be asking.  This list is not specific to any disability or situation.
10.  How has the School updated the present levels of performance?
The Present Levels of Performance (PLOPs) are crucial to writing a successful IEP.  Since many IEP Teams only perform assessments every 3 years, for the triennial IEP, it’s important to understand how this section is being updated.  “This section forms the basis and justification for all goals and objectives. In turn, the goals and objectives form the basis for all services and placements.” (Brannigan and Margolis, IEP Goals and Objectives are these any good)
9.  Has there been a goal written for all of my child’s needs?  If not, why?
As mentioned above, goals form the basis for all services and placement.  For this reason there should be a written goal for every one of your child’s needs.  The list of goals in the IEP help you obtain the services your child needs to be successful.  It will be impossible to argue for a specific service if that service doesn’t help your child reach one of their goals.
8.  How is the School collecting data to measure progress on goals?
IDEA states that the IEP must have, “a description of how the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals described in subclause (II) will be measured and when periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided.”  Since all goals need to be measurable, parents need to understand how the data will be collected to measure progress on the goals.
7.  What research-based instruction will the School be using to teach my child?
IDEA of 2004 added language that the School must use research-based instruction based on “Peer-reviewed research.”  Peer-reviewed research is a process by which one’s colleagues assess the quality and accuracy of one’s research papers. Peer review is most frequently employed within academia, where professors evaluate each others’ work before it is published in major research journals.
6.  Can I get a copy of my child’s service logs?
When your child is seen by a Service Provider (Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, etc), they need to document each session and provide notes on what was worked on during that session.  This might be known as a Service Log or Service Notes.  Asking for copies of these logs will help you determine, 1) if any sessions have been missed, and 2) what was being worked on during these sessions.
5.  When and where will my child’s services take place?
There are many locations that a child’s services might take place.  These could include the classroom, a resource room, an intervention room or elsewhere.  The IEP should specify the location of the services and at a minimum should state whether the services are push-in where the service provider comes into the classroom or pull-out where the service provider takes the child from the classroom.  Also, when the child will receive these services is important.  For example, if your child is struggling in math he/she should not be pulled out of class for speech during classroom math instruction.
4.  What percentage of the day will my child be removed from the general education setting?
The IEP needs to find the proper balance between providing an appropriate education and keeping your child with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible.  This should be part of the discussion when determining your child’s placement.
3.  How and why have the accommodations in my child’s IEP been chosen?

Accommodations help provide access to the curriculum, but should not be included if they are unrelated to the student learning needs.  The IEP Team should make accommodation decisions based on the child’s individualized needs and include those accommodations that reduce the effect of the disability to access the curriculum.
2.  Is my child on a graduation track or are they working on a modified curriculum?
Modifications actually lower learning expectations and should only be used if this is the only way for the child to be successful.  Parents must understand if modifications to grade level standards are being made their child may be at risk for not meeting graduation requirements.
1.  Can you please explain that again?
The IEP Team members conducting the assessments must be professionally trained and competent.  They also need to be able to explain the test results in language the parents can understand.  If you don’t understand what the team members are saying, it is their responsibility to figure out how to explain it in clear and easy to understand language.  Do not let them off the hook; if you don’t understand ask them to explain it again in layman terms.
Your child’s IEP is a legally binding contract with the School District, so you should have a full understanding of what you are signing!!!

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