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Does IEP = Headache?

Individual Education Plan IEP stands for Individualized Education Program but for many parents it also spells headache. I am thinking about it today because on Tuesday I need to go to the end of the year meeting with W’s team and talk about where he is for the year and about the upcoming year.

Many parents know what that is like.

The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, and related services personnel, to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability. It can also be a big headache at times. 

The school system schedules and conducts the IEP meeting. School staff must:

* contact the participants, including the parents;
* notify parents early enough to make sure they have an opportunity to attend;
* schedule the meeting at a time and place agreeable to parents and the school;
* tell the parents the purpose, time, and location of the meeting;
* tell the parents who will be attending; and
* tell the parents that they may invite people to the meeting who have knowledge or special expertise about the child.

Does this always happen? NO.

I know with W’s school they call me about 5 days before the meeting and tell me when it will happen and can I be there. Luckily I am a stay at home mom so the answer is always yes. I can always make it. If I would have something else planned I would cancel it. I guess they figure 5 days is plenty of notice, for many parents it wouldn’t be, but I chose to pick my battles and that isn’t one I want to fight.

A few things IEP must include:

Current performance. The IEP must state how the child is currently doing in school (known as present levels of educational performance).

Annual goals. These are goals that the child can reasonably accomplish in a year. The goals are broken down into short-term objectives or benchmarks. Goals may be academic, address social or behavioral needs, relate to physical needs, or address other educational needs.

Special education and related services. The IEP must list the special education and related services to be provided to the child or on behalf of the child.
Participation with nondisabled children. The IEP must explain the extent (if any) to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and other school activities.
Participation in state and district-wide tests. Most states and districts give achievement tests to children in certain grades or age groups. The IEP must state what modifications in the administration of these tests the child will need. If a test is not appropriate for the child, the IEP must state why the test is not appropriate and how the child will be tested instead.

What are your thoughts on IEPs? How has your experience been dealing with this stuff?

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0 thoughts on “Does IEP = Headache?

  • Well they seem necessary. Whether they are productive or not depends on the individuals involved, the parents and teachers.
    If the teachers would have been the only one’s present I imagine it would have been bad for me! When I was a sophmore in highschool I wanted to change from studying French to Latin for the next year. This was discussed at my IEP right in front of my parents and the teachers tried to talk me out of taking latin because it would be to “hard” for me.
    Luckily my parents were there and the type who would stand up for me against that kind of discouragement.
    Of course I did take Latin and I earned A’s and B’s.
    I often envision traveling back in time and smacking some of those teachers around for suggesting that.

  • For my mom and teachers, I guess it’s headache.

  • I would say that IEPs are more of a headache for teachers than it is for the parents involved. 

  • I’m sure IEPs do good for some children and parents, but in my experience, sometimes students use IEPs as an excuse not to work.  They hide behind them and use them as an excuse for their own laziness.  

    I also think they have the potentially damaging affects of creating a type of cushion students get used to.  My little sister has been on IEP since middle school and is going to begin her first year of college in August.  She doesn’t seem to understand that there’s no IEP in college and she can’t try to tell her teacher how to teach her there and that there are no modifications, so I’m really worried about her.  In college, you’re on your own.  It’s not the teachers responsibility to baby you and nobody listens to your parents anymore because you’re an adult.
    I knew a parent one time who used (or abused) it as a way to get a teacher she didn’t like fired.
    I’m sure they do work wonders for some students, and I’ll never say they don’t.  Every situation is different, just like every student, and for those that genuinely need them and the people that really put their time and effort into them I’m sure they’re great.  It’s just been my experience that they don’t do anything but cause headaches for all parties involved – students, teachers and parents.

  • From the title I thought IEP = Internet Explorer. So I thought “yes, it does.”

    Then I clicked and said… nevermind.

  • as a first year teacher, thrown into the largest school system in the United States, teaching at a specialized school in a specialized district, IEPs have taken over my life. i have had no other choice but to become an IEP expert. i agree with many of the comments above. i looked at some of my students’ IEPs from previous years and wondered if their teacher just hit copy&paste and filled all of them with the same generalizations. i credit myself with putting in a valiant effort in creating IEPs for my kids that actually matched what they were doing and where they should be going. imagine doing that essentially on your own with barely any support from admin or other staff members then having a parent either


    show up for the meeting, sign and walk out.


    show up for the meeting in some state of inebriation. or


    not show up at all.

    because of the lack of giving a shit (pardon my language) on the part of the parents, i’ve had to fight for my students as if theyre my own kids. because i kno the MAJORITY of my parents will not take a second glance at their child’s IEP after they sign it (if they ever actually sign it), i make sure my kids (i refer to my students as my kids) are getting the services they need. that their present level of performance is actually indicative of what they can do. that their goals match up with state standards and that they are attainable within the 12months they have to accomplish them. i make sure their goals scaffold so that they are building on skills that they need to progress to the next level. it’s hard work and it really isnt appreciated as much as it should be. and sometimes it becomes null and void because they get a teacher next year who doesnt look at the IEP until she needs to write a new one and parents who don’t read it either so really it’s just sitting there collecting dust. or better yet admin decides to eliminate services ur student desperately needs because the district is cutting the budget and we can’t afford a 1:1 para anymore so reduce him to a .5 or just let him go without.
    it’s amazing what teachers and parents dealing with children with special needs have to go thru just to ensure the child is receiving FREE AND APPROPRIATE DAMN EDUCATION. particularly where i teach it just seems like no one cares to ensure that the child is getting everything he needs to succeed. it’s frustrating. it’s annoying. but without that document i can’t imagine where my kids would be. it allows them to have access to an educational system tailored for them that in essence is there to ensure that they are provided the same opportunities to attain success as any other student. used properly it’s a powerful tool. i just wish everyone would get on the ball and do the right things for the KIDS.

  • @shy__away@xanga – you are so lucky they ignored you.  I’m average in nearly all subjects, and I have the education of about an 8th grader thanks to their “care.”   Classes don’t matter if you’re completely ignored.  Life is meaningless when you’re being taunted or have been condemned socially.

  • IEPs can be quite headache inducing. While my parents have never had trouble attending the meetings, thanks to flexible schedules, they’ve had a hard time getting the teachers to come. As a teacher myself I find myself increasingly frustrated with the lack of effort being put forth by the school my brother is in. They constantly say “we need to do better” but make no effort to support or follow the IEP.

    I know most states have a complaint system you can go through when an IEP is not being followed. By not selecting a date condusive for both parents and teachers it appears to me that they are trying to prevent a side from attending, and if it is the parents then that must be a violation of the rules.

    I had a student once who had an IEP and it required some effort on my part but it was worth it to see if succeed and achieve.

  • I don’t currently have an IEP plan in my high school, but with the diagnosis of ‘narcolepsy’ looming over my head for next school year I’m probably going to be having an IEP scheduled for next year.

    I know for many of my friends their IEPs hold them back and are a huge stress for both them and their parents. My best friends mother got the call sheduling her end of the year meeting just one day before the appointment.

  • What is the alternative in a public school system? Failure. Without accomodations that are different from the general classroom population, can your child pass?

    As for the inconvenience you feel, think about the teachers who have to leave their classroom to substitutes to accomodate the parents’ schedules…only to have a parent cancel…for the 3rd time.

    It is always hard to admit that your child may be less than perfect, but if they DO have a disability, you are allowing them to succeed in the best way by tailoring an individualized learning program to meet their needs. It gives them accomodations that allow them to succeed on their own terms. That success makes for a happier child.

    As for those of you that have experienced ridicule in this program? It is sad, but it happens…and always will. It seems to happen more because the law forces students to stay in the least restrictive environment (or classroom) which can be good and bad. Good, because they learn things that may be above their goals and are with their friends, but bad because it is very evident that they have accomodations others do not and that they need those accomodations. Some parent group lobbied to get the law that forces those students to stay in the classroom and get instruction on the level of the other students instead of pulling them out (like they used to) and instructing them on their own level. The irony (as I understand it) is that they thought the pull-out program made their children stand out and be different…and that really happens more when they are mixed in with the regular students. Which is best? I have my own opinion, but it will remain to be seen…and I think depends upon the individual child.

  • IEP’s in theory would work if school systems would go accordingly with the procedures. I had an IEP in high school since I was going through a very, very deep depression. Think they checked me for a LD? Yeah they did, for 5 minutes.

    I’m a junior in college, and failed math. They just figured out I have a LD. 
    I’m a theatre education. Fuck my life.

  • OMG.  Why don’t they just separate us so that we can have decent childhoods instead of being instant bait?  My parents used it to bully me extra.  Kids during early school years usually felt sorry for me because there was always some horrible life-event I was going through at the same time, and my social withdrawal called for a tiny bit of understanding.  Bullies were actually my protectors and kept the instant grats away from me until High School where I ditched my IEP because, honestly, I’m quite average without it.  I hate the world, and it has caused me to develop a lot of other problems.  I can’t ever get anywhere safe.  My teachers made it harder for me to succeed and often embarrassed me in front of the class. I begged to drop out of High School despite my grades, but they really “believed” in my ability to overcome everything. It’s okay.  I realize that I was just unlucky.  They often used the line, “you aren’t entitled” and “what makes you think you’re special?”  Well, they put a label onto me and barred the types of classes I could take.  I wasn’t there by my own will, and I kept falling behind.  Looking back, I was quite special in the negative way, and I’ve always ended up working 3 or 4 times as hard while dealing with family issues, so 😛 

    I didn’t actually need help in anything but spelling, and that’s on them anyway.

    Concerta has really helped me focus too.  I no longer have to work for Bs (As online).

  • WORTHLESS!  I had an IEP all through my public school years (the Catholic school I went to didn’t do IEP’s they just let me flounder).  They never let my mom know far enough in advance to show up, she was a single parent with a full time job.  I wasn’t allowed in the meetings despite the fact that they were about ME.  And even though I had an IEP, I was never provided with the accomodations necessary so that I could function within the classroom.  The accomodations I was provided with were completely useless to me.  Schools aren’t prepared for communcation disorders (much less most other kinds of situations that require intervention).  Auditory Processing Disorder is very much a disorder that can be easily accomodated so there’s no reason the school couldn’t have accomodated me, especially since the only accomodations I needed were a note taker and extra time on tests (my college managed to get it right!).

    It’s true that no one goes into teaching for the money and teachers are often overloaded by the amount of students that need accomodations.  Certainly if things were more organized it wouldn’t be such a hassle to help the students that need it.  But, after being a student who “needed” an IEP and working with parents and teachers on IEPs through my Clinicals and Student Teaching courses I really feel like all that system does is hinder students’ progress.  The system needs a total overhaul and parents, teachers, and administrators need to be on board.  It boggles me how a university with 40,000 students can provide students with the things they need (at virtually no cost to them), but my middle and high schools with 900 students couldn’t do the same.

    I was lucky that my mother was an advocate for me and fought to get me the help I needed.  Ultimately I had to learn coping techniques (like lip reading) and hope that my teachers would be accomodating when I asked for copies of notes (most were, because they knew my situation).  Sure those coping strategies are beneficial now, especially in big lecture halls, but I should have been entitled to something as simple as a note taker, which doesn’t require an aid, just a willing classmate or teacher. 

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  • I had IEP all throught school (elementary to high school).  My 7 year old brother is also an IEP child so my mom has experience with me on this issue.  Personally I hated all the testing I had to endure to prove that I was on my “annual goals” and whatnot.  I was an IEP student because I had speech therapy from 5th to 9th grade, Occupational Therapy from basically the time I was born, Physical therapy from the time I was born until the beginning of 6th grade, and have an LD in math (I have a 5th grade math level according to my old teachers and “professionals”).  I was always in “Special ED” math which seemed more like “math for retarded kids” to me so I got bullied alot by my “normal” peers and classmates.  I hated school with a passion especially when I entered middle school (didn’t start middle school until end of 6th grade).  I’m not sure how my mom handled me being an IEP student.  I suppose it was frustrating for her. 

  • IEPs are a headache for parents, but please remember they are also a headache for teachers.  It would be nice if we lived in a world where teachers had the time, resources, and class size to give each child’s IEP the attention it deserves.  Often, unfortunately, the teachers are overloaded with a number of students who need accomodations.  Its not their fault and the majority do the best they can, but where you are trying to deal with one or two children they are often trying to work on plans for up to half (or more) of their class.  I’m not saying you should let them be irresposible, but please remember in your dealings with them how much is expected of them.  They are often not properly trained (again, not their fault since in-system training is often inadequate and external training is expensive and more and more not reimbursed) and deal with a larger number of disabled and troubled children for less pay than most professional therapists.

    Again, I’m not saying you have no right to demand the best for your child.  Of course you do.  Just please remember that no one with half a brain goes into teaching for the money.  They are there to help your kids and they wish as much as you do that they had the knowledge, time, and energy resources to do it properly.  No one is perfect.

  • I’m too much of a bull to be bullied in IEPs. I’ve never left one in tears but I’ve left a couple of teachers in tears, my child is one of my no-compromise zones. Unless they can explain to me what it is in exact detail that they plan on doing with my child, and coming up with results, I am not signing off on it. My kid isn’t a guinea pig and I’m not putting him through excessive trauma because you want to try something out.

    IEPs are now a walk in the park and you know what? My kid has made amazing progress.

  • In my experience: IEP’s suck unless you are willing to approach them as the ‘hand-holding’ experience that the staff intends them to be. God help you if you have your own thoughts about your child’s education. 

  • This is the first year I haven’t left in tears after the meeting, usually I’m bawling. I have not had good IEP experiences… thank god next year she will be a senior,which is just another group of new issues…

  • Initially we’ve had our challenges with IEP meetings.  When those on the IEP team are in sync, all is well. We’ve had to encourage some IEP members to be flexible in thought.

    It’s still a rocky road at times.


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