IEP’s Why so important?

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So as all educators should know, an IEP (individualized Education Plan) is a special education student’s book of commandments. What I mean is, what an IEP says, is what goes. But what does an IEP actually say? It tells us where the student is placed (or should be), it shows us the scores the student has made on formal and informal test, it tells us how the child is performing academically and functionally, it shows us that all considerations and efforts have been examined to make sure the child is in their least restrictive environment. It also gives us a list of goals and objectives that the student is expected to work towards. Sounds wonderful?!
In theory?, yes! In practice?, ummmm……
I will say if an IEP is truly written with the student in mind it can be the strongest tool a student has, but if it is, excuse my language “half-assed” it just becomes another piece of legal paperwork that is visited once maybe twice a year.

I am writing this blog as a plead to special educators, please, please, put time into these IEP’s. Yes, they take a long time to create, but if you truly know your students they should not be complicated.

Here are a few pointers I have learned when writing IEPs (especially when using an Internet or intranet version):
1. First day of school: Write down all of your IEP dates in your calendar. Also three weeks ahead of the scheduled date give yourself a reminder.
2.If possible, schedule your re-evaluations and your annuals together.
3. Make a folder for each student. This will help you stay organized.
Include in the folder:
1.Student’s contact information sheet
2. List of Goals with objectives
3. Copy of IEP
4. Copy of latest psych evaluation
5. Data sheets for each objective
6. work samples, drawings, miss….
4. When writing present levels of performance, make sure to include statements on:
1. Test data
2. Cognitive ability
3. academic ability (lang arts and math)
4. functional academics
5. communication
6. social skills
7. mobility
8. medical
9. recreation and leisure
10. vocational ability
11. strengths
12. concerns
The present levels section is where you really get to explain the student and their abilities in narrative form.
5.Write goals and objectives correctly and effectively. IF YOU ARE NOT SURE, THERE ARE PLENTY OF GUIDES OUT THERE. I suggest: Iep-2005: Writing And Implementing Individualized Education Programs (Ieps) by Edward Burns
6. Remember: How are you going to measure your goals and objectives
7. Look at all special considerations!
8. Get related service hours correct, saves time later!
9. Print out a copy and PROOFREAD! I have found that the IEP program I use asks for one thing on the computer, but when you print it out, it says something different.
10. Get parent input

In all, please write good IEP’s. It is so important and truly can be the most effective tool a student may have.

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