How are IEP's developed between parents and school districts?
What is an IEP or Individual Education Plan?
An IEP is an educational plan written for one child with an identified disability who has a need for special education, accommodations, and modifications that will enable him or her to access the general education curriculum.
Individual educational plans will be written for children who demonstrate a need for special education and/or related services to access a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). The first step towards developing an individual education plan for your child is to determine if your child needs services and is eligible to receive special education.
- Schools make decisions using formal tests, observations, and information you provide about your child's abilities. Schools must evaluate or assess your child's abilities. An evaluation will include different tests. Often the tests are administered to your child over a period of several days. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine what your child can do. The results of the tests will be included in an evaluation report. This report will be used to determine if your child is eligible according to state guidelnes for special education. <link>
- Many individuals can make a request that an evaluation be conducted to determine if your child needs special education services (SED). Family members and/or close friends can make a request to a school district that an evaluation be completed. A community service provider such as a speech and language pathologist or a teacher can make a request for an initial evaluation. A friend, a day care provider, and/ or a grandparent can make a request to a local school district for an initial evaluation. This request is called a referral for an initial evaluation.<example requests>
- Private Evaluations (optional) - One additional way to complete an evaluation is through a private evaluation. A private evaluation would not be completed by school district professionals. It would be completed by individuals at independent agencies. You are encouraged to check with your current insurance provider to see if this is a covered expense before having a private evaluation conducted.
(In certain cases when a disagreement exists between you and your child’s school district members who conducted an evaluation of your child’s abilities, you can request an outside independent evaluation to be conducted at the district’s expense)
You have the right to request a copy of all evaluation results in your first language PRIOR to the scheduled IEP meeting.
- The first step you take when you make a request for a special education evaluation is to go to your local public school district office. When you arrive introduce yourself. Tell the district office manager that you live in the district and would like more information about special education. Ask to speak with the special education coordinator. Tell the coordinator that you have concerns about your child and think that your child may be eligible for special education services. State your desire to support your child educationally. (The principal at your neighborhood public school can also provide information about requesting an evaluation for special education services.)
Requests for an initial evaluation should ALWAYS be made in writing.
- Your next step would be to write a letter addressed to your local public school district offices requesting an evaluation.
(This letter serves as documentation of your request to refer for an evaluation)
- After the school district receives a request for an evaluation, the school must decide who will be evaluating your child and what skills will be assessed during the initial evaluation. The school must notify you and tell you in writing when the evaluation will occur and what skill areas will be assessed. The school will often define the role of the individuals who will complete the evaluation.
A speech pathologist may be assigned to assess your child's overall communication abilities. This assessment may include an assessment of your child's ability to produce speech sounds, your child's ability to produce words and sentences, and your child's understanding of language. A team of professionals will be assigned to assess your child's skills. They will conduct an initial evaluation. A timeline will be set for the completion of the initial evaluation after you provide your written consent for the evaluation.
If no consent is obtained from you, the school district would be unable to conduct an evaluation for special education services. Without your consent, the type, the frequency, and the amount of services could not be determined by the evaluators. If the IEP team decides that special education services are not needed, services will not be received by your child.
There are steps you can take to prepare yourself to better understand your child's initial evaluation. You are allowed to request a meeting with the evaluator, the member of the school district's team who will be assessing your child, BEFORE the evaluation occurs. This meeting can be helpful to you and your child. Ask the evaluator the following key questions:
- What tests do you plan to use during my child's evaluation?
- What do these tests measure? Are these tests appropriate for my child?
- Where will these tests be administered to my child?
NOTE: This is very important for children with hearing loss.
a. Here are some additional considerations:
b. Will these tests be administered by an individual with knowledge and experience with children with hearing loss?
c. Will these tests be administered in a quiet environment? Will there be possible distractions in the environment?
NOTE: This is very important for children with hearing loss
- How can I help you gather information about my child that will be helpful to your school team?
If you are not satisfied or disagree with the school district’s evaluation, you may ask the school district to make an independent evaluation. Place your request for an independent evaluation in writing and give the request to your local education agency representative. An independent evaluation will be considered by the school district. If it is approved, it will be conducted at the district's expense. The results of this evaluation must be shared with you. You will have the opportunity to meet with the school team again to review the results of the independent evaluation.