Individualized Education Plans (IEP) are a requirement for every child receiving special education and related services in the public school system. The IEP process should be individualized and fair, and the resulting plan should be used to outline the steps, goals and personalized learning needed for that particular child to reach their excellence.
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In most cases, there are seven steps involved in the formation of the IEP. However, the number of steps may vary depending on the school district and the needs of the child. The IEP is one of the most significant elements used to ensure that children with special needs receive quality teaching and a customized learning environment designed to maximize their education.
7 Steps Of The Special Education IEP Process
Step 1: Pre-Referral
There are different pre-referral interventions through which to initiate the IEP process. These interventions are implemented based on the type of disability exhibited by the student.
The main objectives of the pre-referral are;
• Document and elaborate the challenges and difficulties exhibited by the child.
• Evaluate the usefulness of classroom accommodations and changes.
• Review the power of different instructional interventions.
• Supervise the development of the student.
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The pre-referral process helps to determine whether behavioral and educational challenges exhibited by the child can be resolved in a general education classroom. To avoid unnecessary evaluations and placements, the assessments used at this stage are purely intervention-based. Typically crafted in the general education class, this step is conducted with the use of direct performance procedures. Helping to save money, time and other resources in the process.
During the pre-referral stage, teachers will try various certified teaching approaches in hopes of establishing whether flawed instruction could be the cause of the problems exhibited. Children whose learning remains challenged will be referred to the next step in the IEP process, referred for special education services.
Step 2: Referral
If the pre-referral interventions prove unsuccessful, the student is referred for special education services through the use of a referral. Referrals can come from parents, daycare professionals, public health nurses, doctors or social service agencies. Referral for special education services can happen at different stages during a child’s life and vary a great deal based on their individual needs. Often, poor academic performance, continued misbehavior or disruption of their learning environment are prerequisites to this stage.
Step 3: Identification
Once a referral has been made, a special assessment is carried out to determine whether the child has a disability that requires special education services. During this stage of the IEP process, the child’s major life activities such as interpersonal relationships, performance in school and at home are used to assess the kind of services required.
Multidisciplinary teams become involved to help determine the child’s distinctive strengths and needs. This team includes parents and other family members, educational diagnostician, school psychologist, or a teacher depending on the state where it is conducted.
An array of data types, assessment instruments and methods are used during this stage in order to create an accurate report later used to determine the correct path for the student. If the final decision is that the child has a disability that requires special education, a baseline of performance is determined.
Step 4: Eligibility
The information gathered during the assessment stage is used to categorize those who have a disability and are eligible for special education services based on IDEA- Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. The IEP committee creates different elements of the services required to plan and deliver an appropriate education framework. Students who do not meet the qualifications for special education services remain in the traditional classroom setting.
Step 5: Development Of The IEP
The next step in the process is to create the actual IEP. An IEP team is formed which includes the child’s parents, educators, administrators and other specialists. As a parent attending an IEP meeting for the first time may be an overwhelming experience. To help calm your nerves and know your child is receiving the help they deserve, you have the right to bring a child advocate with you to the meeting. Child advocates are paid professionals familiar with these proceedings and work specifically for the child and their parents.
During the meeting, resources required by the child are identified, their individualized learning style determined, along with goals both long term and short term.
Step 6: Implementation
At this stage, the student’s IEP and associated services commence. Accommodations are provided for both instructions and testing along with a range of multidisciplinary services required from different providers to support the child’s educational program. The providers your child with special needs will interact with moving forward could include occupational or physical therapists, speech pathologists and other special education professionals.
Step 7: Evaluation And Reviews
Each IEP developed requires accountability and consistent follow up by the child’s parents. A review is conducted annually or after every three years depending on the state. The purpose for these reviews is to determine whether the child is meeting their educational goals.
If the goals are not being met, revisions are made in the IEP. In the event that the child is meeting and even exceeding their IEP goals, new milestones are determined. In some cases, the child may be moved back into the traditional classroom setting.
Once your child is enrolled in special education, there are a ton of options available to help ensure their success. Different types of classroom settings (self-contained, inclusion), different schools (charter, private) and resources outside the classroom such as special education tutoring. The more information you gather regarding your child’s specific learning disability, the better equipped you will be in finding and maintaining the perfect environment for them to thrive.