Now that you have assessments in all areas of suspected disability, and agree with what they conclude and recommend, it’s time to develop your child’s individual education plan!
• Review the assessments and highlight the areas of need
We suggest that you grab a highlighter pen and highlight your child’s areas of need in each assessment.
Next, write one area of need on one index card, or use our goal tracking spreadsheet. Organize each area of need under the following categories: Vision, Hearing and Listening, Academics, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Orientation and Mobility, Speech & Language, Behavior and Attention, Social/Emotional, Self Care, and Other.
• Write a letter of parental concerns
Now that you understand your child’s areas of need, write a letter of parental concerns to the IEP team. This letter should lay out the areas of need you want addressed by this year’s IEP goals. The IEP must address all concerns in this letter, so don’t skip this step!
• Ask for a copy of the draft IEP
Your child’s teacher has probably prepared a draft IEP. Ask the team for a copy of your child’s draft IEP at least one week prior to the meeting.
• Attend the IEP meeting
Now it’s time for the IEP meeting! You and the team will review all the assessments and, pulling from the child’s strengths and areas of need, will write a clear and concise statement of present levels of academic achievement functional performance. This statement is the foundation of the IEP. All goals, services, accommodations, and the final placements flow from the present levels statement. It gives The present the reader a clear snapshot of what the child can (strengths) and can’t (weaknesses) do.
The present levels statement must describe:
- The results of the most recent evaluations;
- Academic achievement – the child’s performance in reading/language arts, math, science, and history);
- Functional performance – dressing, eating, going to the bathroom; social skills such as making friends and communicating with others; behavior skills, such as knowing how to behave across a range of settings; and mobility skills, such as walking, getting around, going up and down stairs.
- The strengths of the child;
- How the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. (For preschool, this is how the disability affects the child’s participation in appropriate preschool activities such as identifying letters, colors, using scissors, following instructions, and playing games).
The present levels statement should not:
- Remain the same year after year;
- List test scores that are not self-explanatory;
- Use highly technical language (e.g. “at risk,” “confidence interval,” “atypicality,” “t-score,” “clinically significant,” “t-score”))
- Use imprecise language (“borderline,” “low average,” “above average”)
- Use terms and references that cannot be understood without reference to test manuals
- Uses vague terms (“student has a great sense of humor,” “likes to help teacher,” “enjoys his peers”).
And remember – all the concerns in your parental concerns letter should be included at the end of the PLAAFP statement.
• Draft The Goals
Once the PLAAFP statement has been written, it’s time for the team to write goals. Remember, the goals address areas of need – these areas of need are identified in your child’s assessments.
The web has hundreds of goal banks you can review. Here are some of our favorites:
- A Day In Our Shoes – One of our favorite websites for all things IEP. Includes information on how to write goals as well as a list of goal bankss.
- Bridges4Kids – A downloadable pdf with search capability.
- American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults – includes orientation and mobility goal bank.
- Speech Room News – includes preK – 12 speech and goals.
Once the goals are written by the team, then the special education, supplementary aids and services, and related services the child needs to help him/her meet the goal are discussed and added to the IEP.
- special education is “specialized instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.” Learn more about specialized instruction here.
- supplementary aids and services are “aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education-related settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.” Examples of supplementary aids and services include:
- adaptive equipment such as a slant board, special seating with support, or cutlery for ease of cutting food;
- assistive technology such as an iPad with special software for communication;
- training for staff, student, or parents;
- a one-on-one aide to help with page turning, hand-over-hand assistance for writing, crafts, etc.;
- adapted materials such as books with large print.
- related services include:
GOAL TRACKING SPREADSHEET
Try our easy-to-use goal tracking spreadsheet. List all areas of need, goals, and services in place that help your child meet the goals. Don’t forget progress reports!