IDEA and IEP Process Essay
IDEA stands for the Individuals with Disability Act. It is a federal legislation that guarantees children with learning disabilities and other disabilities the right to an appropriate and free public education. Numerous provisions of the IDEA act are directly related to the IEP Process. For children with learning disabilities, the Individual Educational Program (IEP) is the vehicle that ensures their participation in the educational curriculum. There are various professional practice standards that are observed to ensure all components of the IDEA law are upheld. Schools are expected to promote the inclusive and meaningful participation of people with exceptionalities in the school. Moreover, teachers are expected to maintain high integrity and professional competence and demonstrate professional judgment that benefits children with learning disabilities as well as their communities. Notably, they should develop relationships with the families of children with learning disabilities based on mutual respect. Additionally, special education instructors should not protect and support the psychological and physical safety of children with learning disabilities. Another standard is that special education instructors are not expected to partake in or tolerate practices that harm children with a learning disability and additional disorders. Moreover, teachers are not only required to practice and uphold IDEA Act standards but also advocate for their improvement. They should also advocate for professional resources and conditions that will contribute to the improvement of children with learning disabilities. In line with assessments, special education instructors should maximize the learning outcomes of children with learning disabilities by systematically individualizing instructional variables. Worth noting, another practice is that instructors are required to take part in the selection and use of culturally responsive and effective instructional materials, supplies, equipment, and other resources that seem appropriate for the role.
Importance of IEP Team Collaboration
Without a doubt, collaboration between the members of an IEP goes a long way in the implementation of the process. Examples of participants that make up an IEP team include teachers, parents, special education teachers, a person that can interpret the child’s evaluation results, a school system representative, individuals with special knowledge about the child, a representative from the transition service agency, and the student (McNamara, Lieberman, Weiner, & McMullen, 2021). By law, these are the individuals that are involved in the execution of an IEP program. A member may play two roles as long as they are qualified, and the individuals are expected to all work together as a team. Parent and teachers have their own distinct rules. Parents are important to the team because they know the child better than anybody else. They are better placed to talk about the needs and strengths of their child. Parents can give an insight into the interests of the child, how they learn, and other aspects that only parents can know. Teachers as well are important participants in the decision-making process. It is required to have at least one of the child’s regular teachers on the team. Teachers can share a great deal of information to the team about the strategies that can help the child, the general curriculum and the services, aids and changes to the program that would be most helpful to a child with a learning disability. Team members are not expected to attend meetings if their section of the curriculum is not being discussed. In such an event, the parents and district must member attendance is not compulsory. If a member’s issue is being addressed, the member can be excused if the parents and district both agree and the member provides written input before the meeting. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) ethical principles guide collaboration with the IEP process by providing ethical principles and professional policies that warrant respect for diverse characteristics and learners with exceptionalities.
The IEP Process
Various processes are undertaken before, during, and after an IEP meeting. The first step is usually to identify a child that might possibly be in need of special education or other related services. To find children, states carry out “child find activities.” The state is required to identify, locate, and evaluate all learners with learning disabilities in their state. “Child Find” may identify a child and their parents can be asked if their child can be evaluated by the system or the parent can call “Child Find” and request their child to be evaluated. Child identification can also be done according to referrals. A school teacher can ask a child to be evaluated if they see they have a disability or parents may contact their child’s instructor and request their child be evaluated. In the second step, the child is evaluated. Evaluation is done in all areas relating to a child’s disability. In the third step, eligibility is checked. A group of professionals and the child’s parent look at the results together and evaluate them. The fourth step is all about declaring the child eligible for special needs education and related services. After 30 days of determining eligibility, the IEP team is expected to meet and develop an IEP for the child (Zirkel & Hetrick, 2017). In the fifth step, an IEP meeting gets scheduled all participants, including the parent, are notified about the meeting. In step six, the IEP team is convened and an IEP is written down. In the seventh step, the services are provided, and in the eighth one, progress is assessed and a report is given to the child’s parent. In the ninth step, the IEP gets reviewed, and in the final step the child gets reevaluated. Executing the IEP process according to the established standards is important as it fosters transparency and avoids disputes that are likely to arise if a child is classified as not eligible.
Major Components of the IEP Process
The components of the IEP include current performance, annual goals, special and related services, measuring progress, age of majority, needed transition services, dates, and place, participation of nondisabled children, participation in district and state-wide tests, and transition needs services. Current performance is an important component as they help in deciding the child’s eligibility for a service or during reevaluation. Annual goals should be measurable and are vital in addressing other educational needs. The IEP process should list special education services that should be provided on behalf of the child, including supplementary needs (Rossetti, Sauer, Bui, & Ou, 2017). Measuring progress is important as it allows the state to measure progress and keep the parent informed. Age of majority is another important component as it is a statement pertaining to the transfer of the child at the age of majority. The IEP should also state the transition services required to help children with learning disabilities prepare to leave school. Dates show when services begin, how long they last, and how often they should be provided. Furthermore, the IEP should explain the extent to which the child cannot indulge in activities with other children. Regarding state tests, IEP must indicate the modifications the child will need in the administration. Transition service needs must also be addressed in the IEP, a requirement for subsequent IEPs.
As a new teacher participating in the IEP process, the main takeaway is that one needs to be aware of the important role that one plays in the decisions made in the meeting. School teachers, just like parents, tend to be very close to the child, and because of the nature of the relationship, they are also better placed to inform the team’s decision on the child’s eligibility for the services. Teachers spend a lot of time with learners and hence they can provide information about a child’s interest, their learning ability, and other important aspects that other people would not know. It is important for special education teachers to remain aware of the important role they have in deciding a child’s eligibility for service.
McNamara, S. W., Lieberman, L., Weiner, B., & McMullen, B. (2021). Discussing adapted physical education during IEP meetings: First‐hand parent experiences and a supporting tool. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 21(4), 302-311.
Rossetti, Z., Sauer, J. S., Bui, O., & Ou, S. (2017). Developing collaborative partnerships with culturally and linguistically diverse families during the IEP process. Teaching exceptional children, 49(5), 328-338.
Zirkel, P. A., & Hetrick, A. (2017). Which procedural parts of the IEP process are the most judicially vulnerable?. Exceptional Children, 83(2), 219-235.