Eek! It’s May and the end of the year is, well, here. Don’t let the school year stop without an IEP meeting to wrap things up. Learn how to finish strong with tips and tricks that you can use today.
Just a reminder: nothing on this website or in this article is considered to be or should be construed as legal advice. I am not a lawyer and am not qualified to provide legal advice. Any action you do or do not take when advocating on behalf of your child’s education is, as always, your own.
Don’t Forget to Schedule Your End of Year IEP Meeting!
When you first learned about IEPs, you probably heard all about the “annual” meeting, right? This is explained as THE meeting to handle all things IEP for your child: progress updates, writing new goals, checking in with teachers, and more.
But that’s not entirely true. You can, and should, request IEP meetings throughout the entire academic year. It allows you to stay on top of what’s happening day-to-day instead of once a year.
One major tip I share with all my clients is to request an end-of-the-year IEP meeting. Getting together with the whole team is essential to ensuring a smooth transition to ESY and/or the next academic year.
Understand Total Academic Progress
During every IEP meeting, and with every progress report, you should receive an update about your child’s progress. The teachers and service providers will give you reports detailing mastery of IEP goals, emerging skills, and the next logical steps forward.
Getting updates in drips and drabs can make it hard to see the complete picture of the school year. One great way to understand exactly how your child progressed through the year is to request an end of year meeting.
At the meeting, you should ask for summaries of your child’s data, from the beginning of the year to present. Even better, ask if they can provide you with the data points in advance (or you can track them yourself from the progress reports and other testing data) so that you can create a graph and spreadsheet.
On the graph, you should be able to add a trend line. This line will ideally point up and to the right at a slope. The steepness of the slope will depend on the difference in score from beginning to end of the school year.
You should ask:
- Based on where my child was in August, where would you have expected them to be now?
- Is there a difference between the expected progress and my child’s actual progress?
- What progress is expected for typically developing students? How is this different for my child?
- If there has been regression, when did it occur? Have you been able to pinpoint a cause or find a solution to recoup those losses?
Put Updated Data on the Record
IEP meetings are official. Everything that happens there is supposed to be recorded accurately on the PWN (prior written notice) and in the PLOP (present levels of performance).
With a meeting in May or June, you’ll have the most recent data and it’ll be recorded for posterity.
The recording part is important.
By having this meeting right at the end of the year, you’ll be able to refer back to the official account in the fall. You want to do that because it could show regression, which is important as part of the ESY eligibility determination process.
Extended school year (ESY) is designed to help support students who regress over extended breaks from the classroom. It’s also designed to provide continuity for students who are on the cusp of progress (among other things).
If you can say that in May, your child was able to do X but in August and without ESY they were back at T, you’ve proved regression.
You should ask:
- Which skills has my child recently mastered?
- Which skills has my child recently started to learn?
- Are there any skills that my child is on the brink of mastering or in which they are making progress that should not be interrupted?
- How will we know if regression occurs over the summer vacation?
Lock Down IEP Goals for Next Year
May and June is a wonderful time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t for your child. By following steps 1 and 2, you’re a step ahead of the game. You know:
- How much progress your child made academically and toward their IEP goals
- Whether they have mastered or are close to mastering their IEP goals
- If there has been regression following school vacations
- Which skills they are on the cusp of learning
Now, it’s time to use that information to tighten up the IEP for next fall. If your child has met or is close to meeting an IEP goal, ask that it be updated. Remember, according to Endrew F., IEPs should be designed to provide a reasonable challenge in light of your child’s circumstances. Goals that have been met should be updated.
This will be beneficial for your child, and their teachers, in the fall. First, the teachers will not need to use valuable time working on a goal that is mastered or almost mastered. Instead, they can boldly move forward into challenging work. Second, your child will hopefully be able to progress more steadily since they aren’t having to spend weeks reviewing and assessing a mastered skill. Third, if your child is not able to use previously mastered skills, then that becomes another data point to make a case for ESY.
You should ask:
- How close to mastering (goal) is my child?
- What would it take to master this goal?
- What is the next logical step after this goal is mastered? What skill follows from here in this subject or area of need?
Update Accommodations and Modifications
While the PLOP and the goals are the meat of an IEP, don’t overlook the accommodations and modifications. This very small section outlines the conditions under which your child’s education will happen. It outlines how instruction will be delivered, where lessons will happen, if work will the shortened or more time given. There are practically infinite ways school can be adjusted to make education more accessible for your child.
But sometimes, accommodations or modifications are added just to, well, be there. Other times, things outlive their usefulness or aren’t being used routinely. Frankly, the extra padding and defunct tools should be rethought.
You should ask:
- Which accommodations have been most useful or beneficial this year? Which have been least useful or beneficial?
- Which modifications have been most useful or beneficial this year? Which have been least useful or beneficial?
- Are there any additional accommodations or modifications that could provide more access to education?
- Which accommodations or modifications have been used most? Use least?