Today I would like to talk about one of the plans that you may run across in your quest to gain an education for your child. A while back we talked about the 504 plan and what that would mean to your child. Different from the 504 is the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Some people can get a little confused as to what the difference between the two can be, so, I decided that this week we would talk about the IEP. In basic terms, the 504 plan is for a child who is disabled but his or her ability to learn is not impaired. An IEP is for the child who has trouble learning and functioning in a regular classroom.
Some of the learning disabilities that might fall under the IEP are as follows:
Hearing or visual impairments
Speech or language difficulties
For the most part, the goals which are outlined in the IEP can be carried out in the regular classroom. Sometimes the child may be taken to a special resource room that has been set up within the regular school.
Children who need a more intense intervention might need to be taught in a special setting. What this would mean is that the child would be taught in a special education room and would only join the regular classroom children for such classes as gym and music where there would not be as much supervision needed.
The referral process for an IEP plan usually will begin when a parent or a teacher notices that the child is having trouble in the classroom. The school counselor is the notified and the process begins to see if the child qualifies for special services.
To help determine a child’s eligibility a team of professionals will be assembled. They will evaluate the child based on observations and their performance on standardized tests. You, as the parent, will make the final decision on whether or not your child is evaluated. You will then be asked to sign a permission slip which will name the people to be involved and the testing that will be done.
Once an individual assessment is completed a comprehensive evaluation report which is a summary of all their findings and an outline of what the child will need will be filed. Parents will have a chance to look over this report before and IEP is developed.
The next step, then, is to call a meeting to develop the IEP. It is here that the parents and the team will decide what will go into the plan. The team talks about the child’s educational needs and will come up with both short term and long term goals. As a parent, it is important for you to take an active roll in developing these goals.
The cover page of your IEP will outline the support services that your child will receive. Some of those support services may include the following:
Vision or hearing therapy
As with the 504 plan, the IEP must be reviewed annually. The IEP plan can, however, be changed at anytime on an as needed basis. This can be a hectic and uncomfortable time for you, but stay strong and remember you are planning your child’s future.