How to Prepare for Your IEP Annual Assessment
If your child has autism, Down syndrome or another disability, he may be eligible for special education services. The school system is tough to navigate without some preparation. That’s why getting ready for your IEP (Individualized Educational Program) annual assessment is an important step in managing your child’s education.
An IEP annual assessment is a meeting required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that must be held at least once a year. The meeting brings the IEP team together to review the student’s progress and program, and plan for the following year. As with other IEP meetings, the school district must provide parents with advance written notice of the meeting and consider their availability when scheduling the meeting.
Going into the IEP annual assessment can still be stressful. How do you remember everything you want to say? Make sure you’re prepared and remember to bring everything you need to bring.
Use this checklist to get organized for your next IEP meeting:
- A folder with all your documentation
- A notepad and pen to take notes
- An advocate who can support you
- A smartphone recording app if you’ll be recording the meeting
- A list of questions you want to address
- Notes about approaches that do or don’t work at home
- Any private evaluations you want to share
- Evaluation reports from your child’s most recent school
- Parent-school communication log detailing phone calls, meetings or emails to or from school
- A letter of your concerns to attach to the IEP that lists your child’s strengths and challenges
Review of progress since the last annual IEP assessment
The team first discusses your child’s progress on IEP goals and objectives that were written last year. Different team members, including parents, report.
The team measures whether the IEP is working by reviewing the gains the team had expected your child to make over the past year. The IEP annual assessment starts with a review of how the plan worked in helping your child meet those goals. If your child did not meet a goal, the discussion should include whether the appropriate support, services, accommodations/modifications and specialized instruction were provided, whether the placement was appropriate, and what factors interfered with your child meeting that goal. If your child easily met or exceeded the goals, this means that he or she may need a higher set of expectations for next year—and the placement and support necessary to accomplish greater challenges.
Write new goals and determine specialized instruction and services necessary to support those goals
As always, goals should be Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic and Relevant, and Time-specific (SMART). Because goals drive the IEP annual assessment, take the time to have a broad discussion of what areas your child needs goals in—academics, social skills, behavior, mental health, motor skills, etc. All areas of need, regardless of the disability, must be addressed. If not, your child cannot gain skills in each area of need necessary for educational success.
Consider placement and services
Determine whether the current placement and program are working based on the prior steps and will support the new goals. If your child is not participating in a general education classroom, this is a good time to ask what supports will be necessary to provide a greater percentage of the time learning with non-disabled peers. If your child attends a state-certified non-public school (NPS), this is a time to discuss how he or she may be provided with integrated learning opportunities with typically developing peers.
Create the new IEP
The meeting is “complete” when the IEP team, including you as the parent, has agreed to an IEP document that fully describes your child’s program for the upcoming year. Any areas where the previous plan did not work well should be identified and corrected. Needs for transitional support should also be discussed.
Being prepared for your IEP annual assessment can make it easier. It can also help to bring your own team of advisors to a meeting.
If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.
CONTACT US FOR HELP.
Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at [email protected]