Writing an IEP takes a lot of time because you want to make sure a student’s IEP accurately reflects their education plan and that everything they need is outlined clearly. In order to write an IEP effectively, it’s a good idea to follow an IEP Planning checklist. To download a free copy of an IEP Planning checklist, click HERE. Below, I will go into detail about the IEP planning process and how to be as prepared as possible when going into an IEP meeting.
4-6 prior to the scheduled IEP Meeting:
- Contact/Notify the rest of the IEP team (remind staff if they want to propose dismissing or decreasing service hours to PLEASE speak to the parent prior to the meeting- this should not be brought up at the meeting)
- Start gathering work samples and other form or informal classroom assessments (Be sure to have Math/English data- and any other data or information in classes you teach the student)
*Drafting the actual IEP is what will take the most time. Be sure to give yourself enough time in this stage of the IEP Planning process so you can draft a quality IEP.
Start drafting the Transition Page
- Make sure that when drafting transition plans, the student is always included. You can use picture choices or different methods to help your students participate in their plan. Also remember, transition plans are liquid, so always changing based on the student and his/her interests. No one is bound to “having to become an office assistant” if that is what a student reported one year.
- Interests are easy. You know your student and you can/should ask them for input. You can give picture options if needed students to make choices.
- Self-Advocacy Goals- Does the student speak up for him or herself? Are they able to tell you what they need or want? Can they request items they want? Can they communicate what they do or don’t like? Can they make choices for themselves?
- Career Goals- What kind of vocational work/skills do they have? How could those skills translate to the workplace or a jobsite? Example: If a student is able to wipe or clean surfaces, they could possibly work at a gym cleaning machines or a custodian in a cafeteria etc. Talk to the student and see what they are interested in and see how their interests could be considered when deciding what skills to learn.
Drafting IEP Goals, Strengths, and Area of Needs
- Goals need to be CLEAR, MEASURABLE, and ATTAINABLE.
- Be clear when explaining student strengths and areas of need for each subject area. What you list in the area of need should be what is used when drafting the goals.
- Goals should be specific and not too broad or impossible to reach. They should be realistic and a skill the student can actually achieve within the year. You want your student to be able meet the goal each year, not always be at “some progress”.
- After you write the goal, make sure each objective breaks down the goal into attainable steps. If a student achieve the objective/goals, move the finish line. You can always do an addendum to modify goals, you DON’T want students to have goals they will never achieve.
- ** Remember, a student’s goals are what drive the IEP. It is what other teachers will focus on in their instruction and data collection. So as part of the IEP planning process, focus on writing specific and realistic goals that fit your student’s needs.
Drafting the PLOP (Present Level of Performance- information to be included)
- Eligibility Statement (What the student is diagnosed with and when the most recent evaluation took place)
- Current grade level and courses they are enrolled in
- What services they are receiving (I.e. Speech and Language, OT, PT etc.)
- Brief description of the student (do they wear glasses? Do they sit in a wheel chair? Do they require specific equipment? Are they nonverbal? Do they use a communication device? Etc.)
- Medical information
- Allergies and/or medications they may take (even if it is at home)
- Behavior strategies or plans they may have
- Any behavioral issues or difficulties the student might have
- Do they need assistance in the restroom or eating in the cafeteria? What other needs should the team be aware of to best meet the needs of the student?
- Current academic information (based on your classroom assessments, what level are they functioning at? What are they demonstrating in your class?)
- What state assessment are they participating in?
- Parent concerns
- Brief description of how they are doing in each class (provided by other teachers)
Behavior Intervention Plan/Functional Behavioral Assessments
- Be specific when explaining any behaviors that a student exhibits, strategies that are used, specific interventions, how data will be collected etc. Your school/IEP system probably has a specific way they want this outlined so it’s clear to anyone who picks it up to read it.
- Included any reinforcers that are part of the intervention.
- Have a plan and describe how you will collect data, the type of data you are taking (frequency, duration, interval, etc.) and how you will display it to show your findings. If you can make the data sheets prior to the meeting, that can also save you time later!
2 weeks out:
- Reach out to team again (make sure proposed goals are in by a certain date)
- If any service providers are looking to reduce hours or dismiss services, have the contact the parent for a conversation regarding the change PRIOR to the meeting. You don’t want these types of surprises popping up and not giving parents ample time to think and make a decision.
1 week out:
- Send home drafted goals for parent review. If they are able to reply before the meeting, you can make necessary changes or answer any questions they may have.
1-3 days out:
- Remind school personnel of the IEP meeting date/time.
- Gather any state documents or brochures that need to be given to parents
- Recheck your work samples and data that show why you are proposing the goals you are proposing.
- Go over any other important information about the student
- Adjust cover page if necessary (you can always add members to the cover sheet at the meeting if you missed anyone)
**You’re ready for the meeting. It’s hard to not be nervous, even after you’ve attended and led many IEP meetings for years! Just know you are prepared, you’ve done the work and you have all the information you need to run a successful IEP meeting. You’ve followed the IEP Planning process and you got this! Now, it’s time for the meeting!
Post IEP Meeting:
- Make sure IEP is signed, initialed, and finalized. Make sure to send a copy home to parents. Turn in the original copy to your SPED Department (follow your school’s procedures).
- Give updated copies of the IEP to necessary teachers/staff/service providers.
- Keep a copy for your classroom binder for easy access.
- Create data sheets for new proposed goals.
It is so important to follow some type of guidelines when drafting an IEP. Having an IEP Planning process set in place will help to ensure your success when writing an IEP and leading an IEP meeting. You will more organized and prepared when going into any meeting. Hopefully from reading this, you are able to use what I’ve laid out or adapt it to make your own checklists and process for IEP planning.