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The IEP Process
Creating an IEP can be confusing if you do not know the proper steps in the process. An IEP process diagram is the easiest way to organize all of the information that is needed. There are several components that need to be addressed even before the IEP is written. This diagram is basic, but it will get you through the important parts of creating an IEP.
Creating the IEP→Talking with parents, students, and teachers → Assessing the student's current level of functioning in math, reading, and writing → Creating goals based on needs → Identifying accommodations needed and specially designed instruction → Choosing the appropriate level of educational supports
Before an IEP can be created, you need to get to know the student. This can be done by gathering input about the student's strengths and needs as well as any other important input from the student’s teachers. You also need to interview the student along with the parents. If the student receives inter-related services, such as speech therapy or social services, those teachers need to be contacted as well to gather all the pertinent information.
After you have communicated with everyone, you need to assess the student’s current level of functioning in math, reading, and writing. If possible, find a standardized assessment that will identify reading fluency, reading comprehension, math computation, and writing skills. You need to accurately identify the grade levels at which the student is currently functioning. This will help to determine the appropriate amounts of supports that are needed as well as accommodations.
Next, based on the assessment results, you will create the student’s goals. For every area of need, the student needs a goal to go with it. For example, if the student needs to improve his reading fluency, you might state something like, "Using an assessment for reading fluency, at the fifth grade level the student will read 100 words correctly per minute with at least 95% accuracy, on weekly reading fluency prompts." Other students may need more functional goals, such as, "Given a toothbrush, toothpaste, and water, the student will be able to brush his teeth with zero errors, 4 out of 5 tries." Make sure that the goals are measurable; otherwise you cannot monitor the student's progress.
You will now need to create accommodations and specially designed instruction. This is where you identify all the things that the student will need in order to be successful. The list might include such accommodations as taking a test in a special education room, access to adapted notes, and sitting in the front of the classroom away from distractions. Also, if the student needs special education for certain classes, you will need to identify that here.
Finally, you must decide how much special education support the student needs. There are three levels: itinerant, supplemental, and full-time. If the student is very low functioning, he will need full-time support. If the student needs very little support, then he can receive itinerant support. Make sure that everyone agrees with the amount of support that this student will receive.
The great thing about an IEP is that it is a working document. It can be changed at anytime; this is known as an addendum. If the student is not progressing as well as he should, then the IEP team needs to be reconvened and the IEP process should be started over.
Hopefully, the IEP process diagram depicted above has helped you to understand the process a little better. As we all know, each student is different, so you must go through all of these steps for each individual student.