My first year working in secondary education I assumed that by this stage in the student's life both the parents and teachers knew and understood what an IEP was. I encountered however, some teachers who didn't know what IEP stood for, and some parents who thought the IEP was just a yearly "parent-teacher conference." While the IEP meeting is an opportunity for teachers to give updates to parents, a lot more is going on.
What is an IEP?
IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. This is a document that is developed for each public school student who is eligible for special education. The term "special education" can scare off a lot of parents. This simply means that the general education program isn't meeting the needs of the student so they require an individualized plan with accommodations to help them reach their goals. The IEP is meant to address each student's unique learning difficulties and include specific goals to target them. It is a legally binding document and the school must provide everything it promises in the IEP.
What happens at an IEP meeting?
The law requires that once a year the IEP team reviews the IEP. The IEP team can meet more often that once a year depending on the needs of the student. The point of the meeting is to make sure the student's IEP is working for them. It gives an opportunity for parents to discuss their child's strengths and weaknesses with teachers. If the student didn't meet any or all of his goals, you can discuss new ideas to help the student. This may mean modifying the goal, adjusting expectations, or giving the student more/different kinds of services/supports.
The IEP meeting is when parents, teachers, and the school can give and get input on how the student is doing. The IEP needs to be revised as the student makes progress and faces new challenges in the academic curriculum.
Who attends the IEP meeting?
The IEP Team will attend every IEP meeting. The IEP team includes:
What is discussed at the IEP Meeting?
The IEP being discussed at the meeting is considered a draft IEP. Some schools create the IEP in advance and then share it at the IEP meeting. Other schools develop it together during the meeting. Since it is a draft, suggested changes can be made during the meeting.
Every IEP meeting will cover these things:
What is in an IEP?
Each IEP will look different as they are made to cater to each student's unique needs. Every IEP however, will contain the following things:
I hope this gave you good insight into what happens in an IEP meeting. Remember, the IEP is more than just a "parent-teacher meeting," it is an opportunity to make positive changes in a student's life. For more information on IEPs, click below!
Liz Molina M.S. CCC-SLP