5 Questions to Ask Before a Child’s IEP Annual Review
Annual review season is here, and your child’s meeting is probably on your schedule. Guest blogger Liz Matheis is here with a few definitions and some timely advice about how to prepare for an annual review.
It’s about that time – annual review meetings are about to start, which means you need to get ready to make the most of this important Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting.
Before I begin, let me review the different types of IEP meetings that you can have:
An IEP annual review is your yearly meeting when you sit down with your case manager, general education teacher, special education teacher, and related service providers in an effort to review your child’s program as it has been set for the last year, and to decide what your child’s program will be for the upcoming year.
A re-evaluation eligibility meeting is one you will with your Case Manager, general education teacher, special education teacher and related service providers every 3 years in order for your child’s continued eligibility for special education and related services to be reviewed. That is, your child will be re-evaluated (psychological, educational assessments, as well as necessary related service therapies) so that you may review your child’s progress. During this time, you can bring forth any diagnoses that your child has that were made by private professionals (e.g. ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyspraxia, etc). Sometimes, your case manager may decide that there is enough data from your child’s teachers that shows that your child continues to be eligible and requires the program that has been established. As a result, your case manager may ask you to waive testing and re-convene in 3 years.
An initial eligibility meeting takes place after you or your child has requested a child study team (CST) meeting in order to review your child’s learning needs in an effort to gain testing. The eligibility meeting occurs when all testing has been completed and eligibility is being determined.
5 Questions to Ask Before a Child’s IEP Annual Review
Request a meeting with your child’s teacher about 3 month prior to your IEP annual review meeting. Review his/her functioning in the following areas: social, emotional, academic (be specific with the different academic skills. For example, math, reading, writing, reading comprehension, etc). Write down what your teachers have shared with you in case you need to reference this information during a CST meeting.
Ask your teacher for your child’s reading level (independent and instructional), as well as gain baseline and quarterly teacher based assessment scores prior to your CST meeting. If you are unsure what this data means, sit down with your teacher and gain an understanding. For example, ask your child’s teacher where your child was functioning in reading in September and then again in January. Where was there improvement? Regression? No progress?
Inquire about your child’s accommodations. Are they being used regularly by your teachers? If so, make a list of accommodations that you feel are very useful for your child, and enter into the meeting with the intent to delete the extraneous ones that may be hanging out from year to year, but with little benefit.
Ask for feedback from your child’s related service providers. How is your child progressing? Are related services being recommended into the next year? If so, with what duration and frequency? What goals will be addressed and how are they different from the ones that were addressed in the year prior? If goals have not been met, it may be time to re-evaluate that goal and either modify it (raise the bar, or lower it), or eliminate that goal all together.
Ask about your child functioning socially and emotionally. Does your child need to join a social skills group? Does your child need individual or group counseling weekly? Biweekly? On an as-need basis? Gain that information from your child’s teacher, and touch base with your guidance counselor.
At a Child’s IEP Annual Review
When you have your IEP annual review meeting, there should be very few (if any) surprises. You should have a solid understanding of what your child has been working on and which areas need continued support. Maintain consistent communication with your child’s teachers and related service providers so that your child’s IEP remains a fluid document that truly reflects your child’s levels of functioning within the many domains throughout the school year. You can, by law, request an IEP meeting as often as you would like. Amendments can be made as the program needs to be adjusted.
It’s important not to adopt the mindset of putting your child’s IEP in place and then not reviewing it several times per year. Unfortunately, very few people are monitoring your child’s program and progress like you can. You are your child’s best and biggest advocate. Check in regularly and use your IEP annual review meetings as check-ins, rather than it becoming a source of distress and worry.
What Questions Do You Ask before an IEP Annual Review Meeting?
How do you prepare for your child’s IEP annual review? Leave your suggestions in the comment box. Thanks!
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By Liz Matheis
Dr. Liz Matheis is a clinical psychologist and school psychologist in Parsippany, NJ. She offers support, assessments, and advocacy for children who are managing Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities, and behavioral difficulties, as well as their families. She is also a contributor to several popular magazines. Visit www.psychedconsult.com for more information.
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