Every teacher must know basic facts about an individual education plan or IEP. Today’s teachers will frequently find that there is at least one student in every class with an IEP. Faced with that much information, it is important to be aware of some basic facts about IEPs.
IEPs are a legally binding document. A teacher is required to know what an IEP states a student should receive in the classroom. There are lawyers who specialize in special education law, and one of the first questions asked will be whether or not the IEP has been followed. Read through the document and be aware of what it says. If there are any questions, see the child’s case manager.
Test modifications are an important part of the IEP. They must be provided on each and every test as stated in the IEP. Some modifications may be limited in their use, such as a scribe for answers longer than five sentences. In this case, the modification will only be provided on certain occasions. Be familiar with any modifications or accommodations required in the classroom. It may be helpful to have a chart or list of these prepared early in the school year for quick reference.
There may also be curriculum modifications in the IEP. It is important that the student’s case manager and the general education teacher discuss these at the beginning of the school year. The general education teacher will be responsible, with assistance from a special education teacher, if needed, to make sure these are provided as well.
Changing the IEP
Every teacher should also know that an IEP cannot be changed without an IEP meeting. These are usually held once a year, but can be held as often as a student’s needs change. This is the time to bring up any concerns about what is working in the IEP and what may no longer be needed.
A teacher will be expected to read and be familiar with the IEP as a working document. Under no circumstances should any teacher receive an IEP and shove it into a drawer, not to be pulled out until there is a problem. Take time to read the document and note any questions that you have. Then meet with the child’s case manager to get those questions answered.
Every teacher will need to be familiar with IEPs. He or she will be faced with them many times over the course of their career. The sooner a teacher understands how they are used and modified, the greater assistance he or she will be in helping the student be successful in school.