Inside: Learn what an IEP meeting is, and what is the purpose of an IEP meeting. And, how to be your child’s best advocate at your IEP meeting.
I am often asked what an IEP meeting is.
An IEP meeting, or Individualized Education Program meeting, is a part of the special education process.
It is a meeting where parents, school staff, and other stakeholders come together to discuss, develop, and review a student’s IEP.
The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that the IEP meets the student’s needs and that the student receives the necessary accommodations and modifications to succeed in school.
IEP meetings are held regularly to review, revise, and update the student’s IEP.
The first IEP meeting must take place within 30 days after the school decides that the student is eligible for special education.
After that, the IEP team must meet at least once a year to review and update the IEP. However, additional meetings can be scheduled if there are concerns about the student’s progress or if changes need to be made to the IEP.
During the IEP meeting, the team will discuss the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and needs. They will also review the student’s progress and determine if any changes need to be made to the IEP.
The team will work together to develop goals and objectives for the student and determine what accommodations and modifications are necessary to help the student achieve those goals.
The IEP meeting is an opportunity for parents to be involved in their child’s education and to ensure that their child is receiving the support they need to succeed in school.
1. IEP Meetings
As someone who has attended hundreds of IEP meetings, I feel very “meh” about them.
The reason is this.
First, the spirit of IDEA says that the IEP itself is to be drawn up during the IEP meeting.
However, in modern times, IEPs are lengthy and a frequent source of litigation. It’s just not practical that an IEP will be drawn up in a couple of hours at one meeting.
Much prework has to be done.
Still, some teams insist on following the spirit of IDEA and doing the entire IEP in a meeting. They will not agree to do any prework.
But, doing prework is not always predetermination. That is an urban legend that floats around periodically–that if an IEP team presents you with a draft IEP at the meeting, that is predetermination.
It’s not. It is only predetermination if–
- They refuse to consider any of the parent’s input or concerns.
- They refuse to change the draft IEP based on your concerns.
- The IEP team did not give you meaningful parent participation in the IEP process.
In my professional opinion, IEP meetings are a time for the IEP team to get together and finalize a draft IEP. Bounce around those last unfinished topics, tie up loose ends, and think about and talk about implementation and placement.
There shouldn’t be any surprises at an IEP meeting if the team has worked together in the prework.
Still, there is nothing in IDEA to prevent a school team from blindsiding a parent at a meeting. Yes, they can come to an IEP meeting and suggest a change in placement or even removal of the IEP.
It is absolutely not best practice, but there’s nothing in IDEA preventing it either. Read and use your procedural safeguards.
2. What is an IEP Meeting?
In this section, I will provide an overview of what an IEP meeting is, its definition, and its purpose.
3. Definition of IEP Meeting
An IEP meeting is a meeting between parents, teachers, and other school staff to discuss, develop, and review a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
An IEP is a legal document that outlines the unique educational needs of a student with a disability and the services and accommodations that will be provided to meet those needs. The IEP is tailored to the student’s specific needs and is reviewed and updated annually.
4. Purpose of IEP Meeting
The purpose of an IEP meeting is to ensure that the student’s educational needs are being met and that they are receiving the appropriate services and accommodations.
During the meeting, the IEP team will review the student’s progress and make any necessary changes to the IEP. The team will also discuss any concerns or issues that have arisen since the last meeting and develop a plan to address them.
It is important to note that an IEP meeting is not just a one-time event. It is an ongoing process that involves collaboration between parents, teachers, and other school staff.
The goal of the IEP meeting is to ensure that the student is receiving FAPE to help them succeed academically and socially.
5. What Happens During an IEP Meeting?
I have attended hundreds of IEP meetings. What actually happens during an IEP meeting is not regulated by IDEA, specifically. Yes, the IEP should be near completion at the end of an IEP meeting. But as far as boxes to check or a specific IEP meeting agenda–that is not regulated.
Here is a breakdown of what typically happens during an IEP meeting:
Review of Student’s Progress
During the meeting, the IEP team reviews the student’s progress toward their current goals and objectives. This includes academic, behavioral, and social-emotional progress.
Teachers and related service providers provide updates on the student’s performance in their respective areas. We also discuss any challenges or concerns that have arisen since the last meeting.
Discussion of Goals and Objectives
After reviewing the student’s progress, they discuss and develop new or revised goals and objectives for the upcoming year. These goals and objectives are based on the student’s strengths, needs, and areas of growth. They should also make sure that the goals and objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Development of Accommodations and Modifications
Accommodations and modifications are strategies and supports that help students access the curriculum and demonstrate their learning.
During the meeting, the team should discuss and determine which IEP accommodations and IEP modifications are appropriate for the student based on their individual needs.
These accommodations and modifications can include things like extended time on tests, preferential seating, or assistive technology.
Identification of Related Services
Related services are services that support the student’s education and are required for the student to benefit from their special education program.
Examples of IEP related services include speech therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling. During the meeting, we discuss and determine which related services are necessary for the student based on their individual needs.
Determination of Placement
Finally, the team should determine the student’s placement for the upcoming year. This includes deciding which classroom, school, or program is most appropriate for the student to receive their special education services.
It is essential for parents to learn the IEP process and engage in it, all year long. You don’t want your IEP team to just think about your child’s IEP once a year, do you?
Probably not. So you also have to be constantly engaged in the process. I find that many parents only really pay attention to an IEP when it’s annual IEP meeting time. To be your child’s best advocate, you have to engage all year. Consider taking my advocacy training to learn more.
I also have many other articles about IEP meetings on this site for you to read and learn.
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