An Individualized Education Program (IEP) evaluation is a process used to determine if a student has a disability and if they need special education services to make progress in school.
The IEP evaluation typically includes assessments in areas such as academics, behavior, and any other areas related to the student’s suspected disability. The school district performs the evaluation typically, with the results used to determine if the student is eligible for special education services.
If you’d like to know more about IEP evaluation and how a child with a disability can benefit from an IEP, read on. We have tips for both parents and professionals on how to make best use of IEP opportunities.
What Parents Should Know About IEP Evaluation
As a parent, you have every right to be informed and involved in the evaluation process. You also have the right to request an evaluation if you suspect your child has a disability.
The evaluation process should be conducted in a way that is least restrictive to your child, and it should be conducted in their primary language.
Parents have the right to receive a copy of the evaluation report. You can also request for the evaluation to be conducted by an independent evaluator if you disagree with the school’s assessment.
If your child is found eligible for special education services, the school district will schedule an IEP team meeting to develop the plan or program. The IEP team will include the student’s parents, teachers, and other professionals.
Each parent can review the IEP and agree or disagree with the services and accommodations proposed in the document. You may also request a mediation or due process hearing if you disagree with the school’s assessment or the services offered.
The IEP Team
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team for a child is a group of people that includes:
- at least one regular education teacher of child who is, or may be, participating, in regular classes
- at least one special education teacher of the child or, if appropriate, one special education provider of the child
- a local educational agency (LEA) representative
- one person who can explain what the child needs to be taught based on evaluation results (may be one of the above educators)
- at the discretion of the parent or the LEA, other persons with knowledge or special expertise about the child, including related service personnel
- the child when appropriate.
Development of the IEP
To develop the program or plan, the IEP Team must consider the:
- strengths of the child and concern of the parents for enhancing the education of the child
- results of the initial evaluation and the most recent evaluation of the child
- results of the initial evaluation and the most recent evaluation of child
- to the extent appropriate and with input from the regular education teacher, determine the appropriate positive behavioral intervention and strategies.
The IEP Team determines the needed supplementary aides and services, program modifications, and support for school personnel.
Consideration of Special Factors
The IEP includes appropriate strategies, including positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address behaviors that interfere with the child’s learning or that of others. Additionally, the IEP Team must consider the:
- language needs of children with limited English proficiency
- current or future need for instruction in Braille, or the use of Braille for the child who is blind or visually impaired
- language and communication needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing
- whether the child requires assertive technology devises and services.
Review and Revisions of the IEP
Review by the IEP Team, including the regular classroom teacher, as appropriate, occurs periodically but not less than annually to:
- determine whether the annual goals are being achieved
- address any lack of expected progress
- review information about the child provided to or by the parents
- consider the child’s anticipated needs or
- other matters.
IEP’s must be in effect for each child at the beginning of each school year.
Children with Disabilities in Adult Prisons
Those in adult prisons have no right to take part in state testing programs. Transition planning and transition services are not required for these children who will become 21 years old before they are to be released from prison.
The IEP Team may modify the IEP or placement of a child with a disability convicted as an adult under State law and placed in an adult prison if the State has a bonafide security or compelling interest that cannot be accommodated another way.
The LEA and SEA must ensure that the parents of each child with a disability are members of any group that makes decisions on the educational placement of their child.
As a Parent, Did You Know?
- You are part of the IEP Team, and the IEP is created based on your child’s needs.
- At least one IEP meeting is required every year. You may request additional meetings if your child is not making progress.
- IEP goals for your child must be measurable.
- Schools are required to provided regular reports to let you know what progress your child is making toward his goals.
- Your child can receive the extra help he needs whether he is in the regular or special education classroom.
- Extended Years Services for the summer can be written into the IEP if your child needs it.
- Schools are required by IDEA to identify and serve all children with disabilities beginning at age three.
- If your child is failing or having trouble keeping up, you can ask the school to test your child.
- Tests must be completed within 60 calendar days.
- Parents are members of the team that decides whether the child qualifies for special education services.
Tips from Parents to Parents for the Transition Years
Effective things parents can do include the following.
- Believe in your child.
- Think ahead to your child’s adulthood, even when he or she is very young.
- Give your child as much exposure to social and community interaction as possible.
- Conduct planning sessions involving persons from various areas of your child’s life.
- Seek ways to change your role as the parent.
- Make sure the whole person is taken into account, not just the disability. Look at what is right, not at what is wrong.
- Allow your son or daughter to make choices about his or her life and to feel consequences of the decision, good and bad.
- Take the initiative to start the transition process if the school has not. Some parents look at that as an opportunity to educate the school on parents’ views of transition.
- Educate your community about people with disabilities.
Tips from Parents to Professionals
Effective things professionals can do are as follows.
- Believe in the child/young adult.
- Focus on what the student can do and on the person, not the disability.
- Listen to the student.
- Acknowledge his or her input as an important component in transition planning.
- Make sure the transition plan is relevant to the student’s future needs. Don’t come up with a “one size fits all” plan.
- Encourage the student to make choices and take control of his or her life.
- Be sure there is someone consistent in their lives outside of his or her family structure.
- Seek opportunities to help the student build social skills.
- Assist parents in identifying the resources and supports their children will need in the future.
Is a Master’s Degree Useful for IEP Professionals?
A master’s degree in education can be useful for professionals who work with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). It can provide them with a deeper understanding of special education laws, policies, and best practices.
Special education is a field of study in education master’s programs, providing the professional with knowledge and skills needed to work with students with disabilities and their families.
A master’s degree in education can also help IEP professionals to better understand the student’s needs, develop and implement effective interventions, and evaluate the student’s progress. Additionally, many states require special education teachers to hold a master’s degree or to be working towards one, and a master’s degree can also open up opportunities for advancement and leadership roles.
Note that having a master’s degree in education alone does not make someone an IEP professional. A professional who wants to work with IEPs will typically need to be certified or licensed in special education, which requires additional training and testing.
Adapted from: The Alliance Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 3. Information provided by Marge Goldberg, PACER Center and Shauna McDonald, University of Minnesota, School-to-Work Office.