What to Expect When You're Expecting an IEP Meeting
Let’s be honest, the idea of sitting around with a group of professionals and a dense stack of documents placed in front of you, outlining your child’s academic abilities and behaviors, is rather intimidating. If you’re stressed, allow me to put you at ease – you do not need to fret about an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Meeting. These meetings are tailored to be a conversation about your child’s strengths and needs, while providing the opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have regarding your child’s educational programming.
But, in case it is helpful, here’s some answers to questions you might have.
What should I wear?
Whatever makes you comfortable! Your child’s teacher will likely come in their normal classroom attire, and even might be sporting some paint-stained hands from an art project they just taught minutes before the meeting.
How do I get ready?
A helpful tip for some parents or guardians is to review the IEP draft prior to the meeting so you can highlight or jot down any questions you would like to ask during the meeting. Sometimes it is easier to gather your thoughts in advance. The document in front of you is simply a draft., meaning changes can be made. Therefore, it is important for you to point out any errors or request anything you’d like worded differently. As a guardian, your voice and input is super important to your child’s education.
Who comes to these meetings?
An IEP Team will consist of the LEA from the district, an administrator from the alternative school, your student’s teacher, any related service providers your child works with, and any advocates you invite to join you. Many parents invite their child’s advocates or representatives from home-based therapy services to participate in the meeting as well. No matter how many or few people are on your child’s team, the goal remains the same: to work together to provide the best quality of care for your child and to meet their individual needs.
Who leads the meeting?
Your child’s teacher is the “case manager” for the IEP document and will often lead the IEP Meeting. He or she will walk you through all of the documents presented to you and explain in layman’s terms what you are signing and agreeing to.
What will we talk about?
The meeting will often begin with some small talk about the weather or holiday plans while waiting for all of the team members to arrive – because you are all people with a common goal of helping your child. Once everyone has arrived, you’ll get into the bulk of the discussion. Throughout the meeting, the presenter will frequently ask if anyone has any questions or concerns. Do not feel intimidated to ask for further explanation or share your thoughts or feelings – that is why the team is gathered together!
The IEP team will work through the document discussing your student’s present levels of academics and behavior, as well as their progress in any related services they may receive. The team will also discuss the individualized goals and objects they have developed for your child to work on throughout the duration of the IEP year. The school personnel will share the modifications provided to your child, necessary for their success in the educational placement. These are the important pieces that help your child be successful in the school environment.
Some of these modifications include preferential seating, extended time on assignments, the ability to retake tests, and small group settings, among others. These modifications will also be discussed when talking about standardized testing, state assessments, and Extended School Year (ESY). If your child is 14 years or older, the team will discuss Transition Services that will provide your child with support in getting a job, independent living, and post-secondary education goals.
Not so bad, huh? IEP Meetings aren’t so intimidating when you know what to expect. They are designed to be a meeting platform for your child’s caregivers to converse and explore options for your child’s educational experience. The IEP Team works collaboratively to design the best individualized education program for your child.
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