In the special education world, there are myriad acronyms. IEP, FAPE, BIS, IDEA, BP, LD, BD, SLD, ASD to name a few. Some call it Alphabet Soup. In this series of blogs, I will explain the most common of the acronyms.
IEP: Individualized Education Plan. The IEP is one of the most important documents in your child’s life.
This plan is for any student with a diagnosed learning, emotional, physical disability. It is a legally binding document that seeks to provide goals and benchmarks addressing all areas of disability.
The IEP is created by a team in an IEP meeting. The team includes but is not limited to school personnel: regular and special educators and paraprofessionals, principal, director of special education, social worker, counselor, nurse, and psychologist. It also includes specific lay people or professionals who may be invited by the parents like a psychiatrist, doctor, private counselor, behavioral specialist, advocate or educational specialist. The parents are invited and encouraged to attend. Side note: as educators, we would much prefer to be in disagreement and discord with parents than to have them so apathetic that they do not attend these very important annual meeting. When appropriate, the child is also invited to attend.
All members of the child’s team are invited, reminded and reminded again as the school is required by law to contact the parents three times before the meeting. It is that important that the parents attend. You are know your child best, and your input is invaluable!
Each member’s input is given and documented. The special educator often comes with goals in mind for the child to accomplish and the time frame in which those goals (more on goals in a separate blog) are expected to be met. The steps to reach each goal are called benchmarks.
All members of the team must approve the goals and sign the document. At the end of each IEP meeting, the parents are given copy for their records, another goes to the teacher and another in the child’s school file.
Parents will receive updates on those goals each academic quarter or trimester. They usually receive a printed piece of paper with an indicator of how the child is progressing toward each goal with the quarterly report card. If there are questions about the child’s progress, it is important that the parents express those as soon as they receive the progress report to ensure that everyone is in agreement. Getting to an IEP meeting and finding out your child will not meet the goals placed at the previous year’s meeting for the first time is unacceptable. Working together throughout the year and keeping lines of communication is imperative.