IEP Assistance: Does my Child Qualify for an IEP and what are the Steps to Getting Approved?
This article provides beginning steps for parents to gain an IEP to help their child in school.
In many cases, a student with a learning disability can benefit from having what is called an Individualized Education Program (IEP). If you are a parent of a child that has some learning struggles, a diagnosed learning disability or a mental illness, you may be thinking about pursuing an IEP to assist your child on their educational journey. Many parents do not know where to start, or may have an idea and just need some advice about the process. Whether you are currently in the process of getting an IEP or been referred by a teacher or therapist, the process generally follows a particular progression.
As a quick note, please remember it can be difficult to obtain an IEP without a specific diagnosis and may take a few months to get approval. Start the process early so you can get your child’s IEP in place before the next school year.
Evidence to Support the Request
When a parent wishes to file a formal request to have their child evaluated, they need to do a few things to have a better chance at getting a favorable result. To get started, keep track of the following:
- Observe your child for a period of time and take notes. Jot down where and when they struggle and what they struggle with at home and at school. What helps them with schoolwork and what is their weakest skill? Don’t forget to talk to your child about what skills or subjects they wrestle with if their communication skills are well developed.
- Make copies of any pertinent school records and child’s work, including report cards, tests and written assignments.
- Medical records
- Meet with your child’s teacher and ask them about your child’s behavior at school and discuss your concerns with the teacher.
How to Get Your Child an IEP
After you collect the documents for your case, ask the school principal for instructions on how to file your request. The next several steps of the process will help you obtain the go ahead for the evaluation and will determine what happens after the findings are given.
Here are the steps:
Step 1: Request for an evaluation is made
This can include a written or oral request, and a parent’s consent is required to have the child evaluated. You can ask the school district to complete the evaluation or have a professional outside the school environment to have your child evaluated.
Step 2: The child is evaluated
The evaluation must assess every area of the child’s suspected disability. The results of this evaluation will be used to determine if the child can receive special accommodations in school and a have a formal IEP. When eligibility is decided, if the parents disagree with the findings, they can request a hearing.
Step 3: Child is found to be eligible for services
The student is now eligible for accommodations in school and/or special education services. Within 30 days of receiving the determination that the child is eligible, an IEP team must write the plan for the child.
Step 4: IEP meeting is held and the IEP is written
The school will plan an IEP meeting to include the IEP team, parents, teachers, student and any other pertinent individual. The meeting is to discuss recommendations, accommodations and to determine what should be included in the child’s IEP. Parents have a right to disagree. Mediation is also available.
Step 5: IEP is put into action
The services for the child at school begins and can include special education classes, extra tutoring, one-on-one services, printing lecture notes and giving extra time on tests.
Step 6: IEP reviewed
Progress and setbacks will be communicated to the parents. An IEP should be reviewed at least once a year and can be reviewed more times if requested by a parent or teacher. This is where suggestions for changes can be introduced for your child.
Step 7: Child is reevaluated
Every three years the child will be evaluated to determine if the services are still needed.
What Does an IEP Include?
There are certain things that an IEP must include according to law. Each IEP is individualized and will be distinctly different for each student, however, the following items are what an IEP is required to include:
- Your child’s present level of performance in school. In detail, how your child is doing in school in all areas.
- The student’s annual education goals
- Special Education services that will be provided (i.e. resource classes, one-on-one reading coach, etc.)
- Accommodations for the students day-to-day functioning (for example, more time on tests or if they are allowed to have dictation service on a computer).
- Modifications on what the child is suppose to learn (the level at which a student is expected to learn a subject may differ from the core requirements).
- A list of adjustments to assist the student with standardized testing.
- Transition planning to help the student with later life skills.
For many children with disabilities, the key to success at school is having access to appropriate accommodations and modifications. Many of these adjustments can and should be made to activities and classroom instruction to help that child succeed. Some adaptations could be as simple as allowing the child to stand at a taller desk and move around the classroom every few minutes. Another accommodation may require the teacher to print their notes and give them to the student instead of having the student take notes during the lecture.
If the child and the entire team of amazing educational professional are all involved in making the best choices and recommendations for a child, then the child can be educated right alongside their peers and have an amazing path for school success.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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