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by Analisa Smith, LDA Board of Directors

School is back in session and now is the perfect time to review your child’s IEP or 504 Plan for this academic year. Over the summer you may have reflected on your child’s educational progress from last year and now are ready to make sure his or her needs are well addressed in the present IEP. So, this is the perfect time to consider reviewing your child’s IEP (Individualized Educational Program) or 504 Plan. If you find that changes need to be made or other options considered, you should be prepared to schedule a meeting with the school representatives.

What are some things you might want to consider?

  • Consider if your child really made the progress needed.
    • Many parents are assured by the schools their children attend that the child is making progress. Progress for our children means more than just looking at the grades our children bring home. It also means looking at the quality of the work involved. Reflect back on last school year to determine if you saw a definite progression of learning taking place in what your child was doing at the beginning of the year to the end of the second semester.
    • Check back over the progress monitoring reports you should have received at the end of each quarter. Your child’s school should have sent reports at regular intervals during the last school year to monitor the progress the child made throughout the year.
    • Review goals/objectives for learning, behaviors, and so forth to note if the goals for this year are reasonable.  Are the goals written in such a manner that the child can achieve them? Has the learning of the student changed in some manner that new goals need to be considered or the existing goals revised?
  • Have related services been completed as written on the IEP or 504 Plan, or, are they being completed now as written? Were these reviewed as an option for the IEP, as related to the disability or need of your individual child?
    • Not all students qualify for related services. Although, if your child does, it is important to verify that the services that were provided for the prior year were provided as written. You should also review the plans for this year and think about what you know your child needs. In addition, you can talk with your child, communicate on a routine basis with your child’s service providers and teachers, and be a presence in the school. You can volunteer or be there for occasional events. By doing so, you can gauge the time your child spends in different instructional and support environments and if the services are being provided as written out on the IEP or 504 Plan.
  • Are accommodations being provided and administered, as needed?
    • Accommodations provide access to learning and instruction that would otherwise be difficult for the child to attain if not provided. Accommodations level the playing field for the child with a disability. Once again, it can be difficult to determine if accommodations are being administered and provided as written on an IEP. The school teaching staff should be documenting accommodations that are being used and be able to discuss how they are implemented. Make sure you ask for these routinely and check on them for your child.
      • Your child should also be able to tell you if he or she is receiving things such as oral reading accommodations, small group testing, extended time, and so forth. Communication is crucial here: between the parent and child; between the parent and educator.
    • It is also important to note that at times a child may “outgrow” an accommodation. As learning changes and the unique needs of each child change or as the child matures and acquires new learning skills, some accommodations may no longer be needed. Some accommodations may need to be adjusted. Some new accommodations may need to be added, while some others may need to be deleted.
    • It is important to allow your child to have enough accommodations to make learning accessible without providing too many accommodations so that the child becomes dependent on the accommodation being provided.
  • Too much service, too little service, or just enough?
    • It can sometimes be difficult to determine how much support service a child may need. Consider if your child seems to need more support services or can be successful with less.

What can you do? What do you need to remember?

  • Your child’s IEP or 504 Plan should include you in the education process. It’s your right to participate in your child’s education.
  • Grades do not always reveal if your child is making adequate progress. Effective progression of learning is demonstrated through student work samples and objective testing data over time.
  • You are an equal part of the team that makes decisions about your child. You do have a right to call a meeting to discuss concerns and suggest changes to your child’s individual academic plan.

Now is the time to review your child’s progress and consider if a meeting needs to be considered. If you think that a meeting needs to be held to review your child’s IEP or 504 Plan, contact school and/or district personnel, in writing, as soon as possible. Make sure your concerns are written down so that each can be addressed and nothing is forgotten.

Additional Information

Are There IEPs and 504 Plans in College?

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