As a special education teacher in Florida, nothing is more real or more heartwarming when a parent shows for an IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting, and even more when they ask questions. An IEP is something your child would be given in school to help close an achievement gap due to a disability, health, or other diagnoses. The gaps could be academic, behavioral, physical, with communication (speech/language), and more.
The IEP team (you, teachers, related arts, and others) would come up with goals specific to YOUR child to close any gaps with their peers. The ESE teacher (special education teacher) would work with your child within a particular setting on these goals and would track data every couple of weeks.
You'd be surprised how many parents don't show, or just let the team do what they want.
If you're new to the IEP scene or just had a diagnosis, talk to your school and see what to do for your child! Here are some tips that I've encountered that I wish parents would do all the time to hold teachers accountable:
- If you don't understand the language used, acronyms or data ASK someone to clarify! (ex: IEP, SLD, ID, EBD) or any terms in any reports! (ex: VMI or PSI in a psychological report)
- If your child struggles with reading, math, or writing, and is extremely below grade level, the teacher should be doing interventions to help close that gap (getting them closer to grade level). If they aren't you, REALLY need to ask why?? That's their job!! (this could be called RTI or MTSS)
- If your child has been staffed in the ESE program, ask what accommodations they can have and if the goals the team wrote are going to help get them to grade level. (its ok to ask how it works too! Hold the teachers accountable!)
- If your child has a medical diagnosis and needs a health care plan, some things to consider- how much class time do they miss going to the clinic for care? does the medication affect behavior? Does it affect processing speed? ** if you aren't sure, ask your doctor! You may be entitled to a 504 plan for your child!
We, as teachers, really love it when the parents communicate their concerns.It helps us a lot. Just like we communicate grades, behavior, etc. because your help at home with this, helps us be able to teach content and help gaps in learning get smaller. If you feel like your child struggles more than what would be "normal" reach out and open the conversation, teachers should have A LOT of data to show how your child is doing compared to the rest of the class and the rest of the school!