Parents can work with their children’s educators to develop a plan that will help ensure a child’s success in school. A team is formed, usually consisting of parents, teachers, administrators, classroom aides, and the student. Each person on the team takes responsibility for certain aspects of the plan. Periodically, progress is evaluated, and the plan can be modified to suit current needs and skills.
IEP’s were devised to enhance the education of students with disabilities. Their availability has since been expanded in many states to include any child who is not doing as well in school as anticipated. An IEP can be requested by parents, a teacher or a student, though this would be rare. Sometimes the child’s physician will suggest to a parent that an IEP would be helpful. An IEP cannot be instituted without parental consent.
There are many reasons why a child would benefit from and IEP. The most obvious reason would be struggling to acquire academic skills and falling behind grade level. But this is only one way an IEP
can be helpful. A highly gifted child who needs greater challenges could be helped through this approach. One who has problems with organization and loses homework assignments might be allowed to produce work on a computer and submit it via email. A child who is struggling socially could be provided extra support to develop more effective communication skills.
The Individualized Education Plan and the services associated with it are provided by public schools at no charge to parents. It can be extremely beneficial in identifying and addressing a child’s particular assets and difficulties. Usually, services are provided in the regular classroom the child normally attends. Some services are provided in a special resource room within the school.
Developing an IEP
A parent who wants to develop an IEP for a child should first consult the teacher or school counselor to make a request. The first step in developing an IEP is to assess the student’s problems and try to determine what may be causing them. The child could have a learning disability, hyperactivity, a hearing or vision problem, or difficulty acquiring social skills.
After a period of observation and/or testing, a meeting is called for the team to devise a plan for aiding the student. The team can include several people besides teachers and parents; for example, a school counselor or psychologist a special educator; a physical, occupational or speech therapist; a vision or hearing specialist; or other professionals with expertise in the particular areas of difficulty.
An outline is developed that addresses each problem and the needed interventions. Both short-term and annual goals are set for each area addressed.
The cover page of the report will list the services to be provided and how often the child will receive them. Many of the services are implemented by the teacher in the context of the normal school day.
Teachers and parents can find templates online that will help in developing and implementing an effective IEP at http://www.teachertools.org/forms_dynam.asp With the complex tasks demanded of today’s teachers, these can be extremely useful.
Nearly anyone who sees the need can initiate the request from developing an IEP to help a struggling student. Parents always make the decision about whether one is to be developed, but this is a very useful tool for assessing and promoting student progress.
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