The IEP Guide: 11 Steps for a successful IEP

Below you will find tips on how to have a successful IEP. Having done 100’s of IEP’s for my own children and my clients I have learned many useful tips to getting the most out of your IEP. Here are just a few tips every parent should know.

1. Always record every IEP meeting.

It is good to record, even if you are not in conflict with the school. This way you can have a reference to what was said and any outcome. You can use most any cell phone to record the meeting. Make sure to give 24 hours’ notice by email. They cannot deny you your right to record if you give 24-hour notice.

2. Request all school records before the IEP.

You should be able to read all relevant records (school file, reports, assessments, goal drafts etc.) prior to the IEP. This is especially true with any Triannual where there are pages upon pages of assessments that will be reviewed at the meeting. You need time to read through these documents without being rushed. You should get them at least 48 hours in advance and if not you should reschedule your IEP. You have the right to participate in the IEP process and not having all the information everyone else has puts you at risk to not fully participate.
Before all your IEP’s ask for all proposed goals and goal progress before the meeting as well. This gives you plenty of time to think of new goals and questions you may have. You can request your child’s special education cumulative file at any time and the school district must give them to you within 5 business days. Be prepared to pay any reasonable copy fees. (On a side note, it is always a good idea to keep your child’s education file organized by date and forms, IEP’s, Assessments, Goals, Report cards, completed work. This will help you to quickly see progress, lack of progress and consistent issues.)

3. Request the right people be at your IEP.

Check your notice of meeting and make sure your whole time is at the IEP along with an administrator. This means, your child’s teacher, a general ed teacher for your child’s grade if they are in an SDC class and their speech, OT, RSP teachers or counselor. You will also need someone from the district that can make decisions if you’re asking for new services or placement. Most school personnel is not authorised to make placement or larger service changes. You need the special education program manager or director for any real progress. If your child is in middle or high school request that all their teachers be present. I know this seems like a lot but they all work with your child and they need to know your child’s needs and follow the IEP.

4. Know what you want to accomplish, and make a game plan.

Use all the information you have to come up with your goals for the meeting. Do you want more speech or OT services? Think your child needs a 1 to 1 reading tutor? Do you think a 1 to 1 aid is appropriate? Do you want private placement or different placement? Learn your child’s file and use it to support the needs of your child at the IEP. Be prepared to use their assessments and past IEP’s to support your goals. For help with this, contact Ask Now Advocacy for assistances with file review and IEP Preparation.

5. Ask lots of questions.

Your goal is to get everyone to tell you what your child is like at school, have them explain their assessments and observations, ask your child’s teacher about how they are in class, where their strengths and weakness are, do they see in class what is being said in the assessments. There is no question that is silly or unimportant. Do not feel rushed or let anyone brush off your questions. You have the right to participate in the IEP process, even if the meeting needs to resume another day to be completed.

6. Have someone from your team observe your child at school, before the IEP.

It is so important to have your advocate or anyone from your child’s team not associated with the school do at least one observation of your child in school. This helps you get a true perspective of how they are doing in class and during unstructured times. It would be best if this was someone your child had not met before or is not close with so they are not recognised during the observation. Observing your child, yourself is often discouraged because no matter how your child acts the school will always claim it was because you were there. Don’t let the school tell you no one can observe. It is your right and if they can observe your child in class so can you or your team.

7. GOALS-The most important part.

Goals drive service, so make them measurable and make one for every deficit. No combining 5 needs into one goal, you cannot measure that correctly. There should be a speech goal for every speech need, an academic goal for every academic need, a social goal for every social need, and on and on. Be firm on this!! Don’t ignore the baseline. Baselines tell you where your child is now, make sure the goal is relevant to the baseline and is measurable across multiple settings and consistent. You don’t want your child to only do something once in one place and they call it a met goal.

8. Don’t go alone if possible.

You have the right to bring anyone to the IEP. It really helps to have a third-party present to help explain your child’s unique needs. This also helps keep the IEP professional because as parents we can get a bit emotional when we feel our children are not being take care of. An advocate or third party helps keep emotions out and keeps the meeting on track for obtaining the ultimate goal. Getting your child appropriate services! I would also advise against bringing an attorney to an IEP unless you absolutely must. If you do bring an attorney, you are required to give the school district 24-hour notice as they will bring their attorney and it makes for a very uncomfortable and often unproductive meeting.

9. Never sign the IEP at the meeting.

There are many reasons for this, the main one being it’s just a draft at the meeting and you wouldn’t sign something that isn’t finished yes, would you? Mainly you don’t want to sign because you need time to review it, make sure you agree with everything and that everything is in there you discussed. Ask for a copy and take it home, don’t let their deadlines force you into signing before you’re ready.

10. Add your own notes to the IEP.

We call this a parent addendum. Have you noticed at IEP’s the school is always the one who puts everything in the IEP and the notes section? You don’t get to add your notes. Well, this is how you do it. After the meeting when you are reviewing the IEP type up your own notes to the meeting, add things like comments that were made that you feel are important, changes to services or goals that you wanted. Type this up in word and ask them to copy and paste this into the notes section of the IEP. They can do this, so don’t take no for an answer. You have a right to have your comments as part of the IEP.

11. Don’t let them intimidate you.

At some meetings, there could be 10 or more people and it seems they all are saying the same thing. Remember this is your child and no one knows them better than you. Follow your instincts. If you feel something is wrong state it.


If you need help or have any question on the IEP process. Contact us today for your free 30-minute consult.

Thank you Ask Now Advocacy Group

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