If your child has any disability under the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) he is entitled to an Individual Education Program (IEP) that identifies his disability, his academic and other needs, baseline of academic and social functioning, specific goals and objectives for achievement of reasonable progress for the school year in all areas of need, classroom and testing accommodations, transition plans, location of service, and eligibility for extended school year (ESY).
Disability Coding – IDEA recognizes more than a dozen areas of disability that qualify a student for special education services. Disabilities include intellectual disability, hearing impairments, speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disability, autism, ADD or other health-impaired, and specific learning disability.
How is your child identified as a student with a covered disability? The process begins when a parent requests that the school assess his child for services. This may happen because you notice that your child is not making sufficient academic progress or because his teacher tells a parent that he suspects that your child need special educational help. The school system must assess your child’s progress and speak with his teachers to determine if a formal evaluation is necessary. The parent is part of the entire process and must be kept apprised of all steps in the assessment process. If a parent is dissatisfied with the school system’s determination the parent can obtain an independent assessment.
Baseline of Functioning – This is the level at which your child functions at the beginning of the IEP year. It is used as a benchmark to develop the goals for the IEP year. The baseline information is important because it is the starting point for measuring your child’s progress or lack of progress each year. It should appear in the IEP and is an easy way to check on your child’s progress. Parents should review their child’s progress at every school meeting by comparing current functioning against the baseline. Failure to make appropriate progress is grounds for further services and possibly updated assessments.
Goals and Objectives – Every IEP identifies specific goals and objectives for each area of academic or social need such as reading, writing, math, speech and language, occupational therapy, and social and emotional behavior. Each student will have different needs. Some need services in only one area such as math. Others need services in several areas. No matter, goals and objectives for progress in each area must be written with measurable standards. The more specific the objective, the better able the parent can track progress. If your child has need for special education services in reading, the objectives should identify specific areas of concern such as phonemic awareness, difficulty with blends and multi-syllabic words. Reasonable goals should be identified, such as increasing vocabulary by ten new words per month or per week or completion of the first grade dolce word lists.
Accommodations – Students with IEPs are eligible for accommodations including breaks during testing, use of calculators, small group testing.
Transition Plan – When students are 16 they are entitled to transition planning for post-secondary education or employment goals. Transition planning includes vocational testing, identification of future goals such as college, vocational school, employment, and future living environments such as independence. School systems generally perform a vocational screening and will connect students to the Rehabilitation Services Administration in their senior year of high school.
ESY – Extended school year is available to all students with an IEP if they qualify for this additional service. To qualify, generally, students must show risk of regression in progress of their academic or related service over the summer session. In the District students who attend ESY do not earn credits. ESY is used as an additional four-week period to work on the current IEP goals. Usually students focus on a handful of goals to try to achieve the most benefit in the short time period.
Location of Service/Placement – This is the location of where your child receives his services, i. e., his school. If you child attends a public or private school, that school will be identified as the location of services. The location of service should be the least restrictive environment where your child can make appropriate academic progress.
This blog is not legal advice. If you seek legal advice you should contact a local attorney.