As IEP season is quickly approaching, I wanted to take a few posts to go over the annual IEP process. I am starting with a service Education Champion offers called an IEP Review. This service is one that takes some time to accomplish before the IEP meeting and would be very beneficial to get scheduled as soon as possible. It does not include a face-to-face meeting, so it is accessible for families who are outside of Bloomington-Normal area.
The process starts by you gathering all of your child’s paperwork. The papers you want to include in your child’s file are:
- IEP‘s (initial evaluation, annual reviews and any supplementary meetings)
- Evaluations and results both private and from the school
- Speech Evaluations and therapy notes
- Academic report cards
- Teacher notes and emails (printed)
- Work samples (specifically in areas in which the child struggles)
- Any correspondence from the school (letters, referrals, printed emails)
- Current levels of academic performance (reading levels, grades, etc.)
If there are gaps in your child’s file, you can easily gather the information by requesting the documents from your child’s school or special education office. This usually takes a week or so to receive the documents, but some districts will email you the documents to expedite the process.
Sometimes, simply asking questions or asking for documents can demonstrate to the school that you are taking your child’s meeting/IEP/situation seriously. This is not to say that if you do not request the documents, have them organized and bring them with you to each meeting means that you do not take the meeting seriously, it just proves that point tangibly.
When I had my 5th child, I wanted two things to be done a bit differently than hospital policy. Nothing too crazy, just a little different. I made my wishes known to my husband, the nurses, and my doctor. The two things were honored, and then every single other thing they routinely do to/for an infant, they asked me about first. With my first 4 births, they just did everything without asking. In this case, they concluded that if I wanted those two things to be different, I might want more control, more information, more choices for my tiny new child. The same is applicable here. If you show the school that you are willing to invest time and money into preparation for your child’s IEP meeting, then you will surely come to the meeting as an informed member of the team ready and willing to contribute to the plan and educational process. On the other hand, often parents are simply informed of the plan the school has instead of contributing to the plan.
When I was at an IEP meeting for my daughter, I brought in the previous IEP’s in a file folder (I hadn’t yet discovered the binder method). The principal remarked how great it was that I just kept the documents in a file indicating that it is a rarity for parents to keep such things. As a teacher, we were usually thrilled if a parent would just show up for the IEP meeting. I do not remember any parent bringing in any type of file or folder containing past documents.
After the documents have been gathered, I take those documents and organize them into a binder. The binder is organized chronologically. I take all of the information from each of the child’s providers and create a list that is inserted into the front of the binder. This allows you to quickly find who you may need to contact in the future.
In addition, I create a master document list that is in the front as well. This is a chronological list of each and every document, who wrote it and why it is significant to your child’s education. This one resource alone is worth its weight in gold when you are sitting in an IEP meeting and remembering what one professional said about your child at some point. Who was it? Which agency? What was the date? Do I have the document? All of those questions are quickly answered at the front of the binder and allow you to easily locate that document.
I also email you the word and excel files of the documents so you can add to them and add documents to the binder as you go.
After the binder has been organized and the master document and master provider lists created, I review the entire file. I find and summarize the child’s past history briefly and then write recommendations for further evaluations, interventions, IEP goals, etc. You can then take those recommendations to your child’s meeting and share those with the team. It is basically a second opinion and where all of the school districts with which I have worked in the past took the recommendations seriously and implemented some of the recommendations, the school district is not obligated to adopt any of the recommendations.
Another component is a short survey I ask the parents and the student (when applicable) to fill out for me. This helps me in creating recommendations for the child at school so I know what challenges are most important to the families. In addition, it provides insight into the child’s strengths and accomplishments. I always like to come from a place of strength and positivity when thinking through interventions and goals for each student.
The information is all confidential, as is the binder itself (the binder cover has the word CONFIDENTIAL written in giant letters on the front). In addition, the fact that you and your family is even working with Education Champion is confidential and only you can share that information. I will not, and I go to great lengths to keep that information private.
The positive feedback I have received for providing this service has been overwhelming. The schools were impressed, the parents were empowered and prepared to advocate for their child and had positive outcomes with the school as a result. I was even able to save a family a lot of money when they did not have to repeat a speech evaluation because all of the past information had already been gathered and organized eliminating the need for a subsequent evaluation.
If you have a child with an IEP, why not invest in this service? You will not regret having an organized file with all of your child’s information at your fingertips. Call or email
Education Champion today: 309.824.5738.