I know how overwhelming and IEP meeting can be, and it is very difficult to know if they are covering everything they are suppose to. This is especially true if you do not have a special education advocate to help ensure everything is done properly.
Not all IEP meetings are the same, but usually they follow the format of the IEP document. While there are different systems that manage IEP documents, they follow the IDEA guidelines for what the IEP should contain, so most meetings have a similar agenda.
The district provides someone to facilitate the meeting, typically the case manager or special education teacher. There should also be someone in the meeting who is taking notes. You should also be taking your own notes or have a friend come and take notes for you.
In Chapter 36 of my book Special Ed Mom Survival Guide, I share 20 things you can do to foster a positive IEP meeting. I also wrote a guest post on Mom of Amazing Kids with 12 Strategies for Staying Calm During an IEP Meeting.
An IEP meeting usually follows this agenda:
- Presenting of Parent’s Rights
- Review of present levels and/or assessments
- Parent Concerns. It is good to have these written in advance so you cover everything.
- Review of goals and measurement of goals.
- For each goal, the specialist involved will summarize the progress and suggest retaining a goal or establishing a new goal. If you have observations about a goal or progress, this is your time to speak. Based on the review of goals and progress, the participants outline goals for the next year. New measurements are also established as well as appointing the person who will be measuring them.
- You want to make sure your concerns are addressed in the goals.
- If you need assistance understanding the goals or question how these things will help your child, you need to ask them.
- This is where they would discuss adding or removing services.
- Review of accommodations and modifications
- This is critical for helping your child manage in general education classes.
- You are not limited to the accommodations they suggest. You can research and bring your own.
- It usually costs nothing to offer an accommodation or modification, so schools are generally easy about including these.
- Review standardized testing accommodations.
- Review behavior plan (if any behavior plan is in place).
- Review transition plan (if this is a transition meeting or student is 16 or older and transition planning post-high school is needed.)
- Review percentage of time in general education versus special education.
- Review services the school is willing to offer. This should include the specific service plus minutes per day, week or month that the service will be provided.
- Summary of offer of FAPE (free appropriate public education). This is basically a summary of what the school is willing to provide your child to support the child in school.
- Request for signature. It is up to you whether or not you want to sign the IEP at the meeting. I recommend you do not sign until you have a final draft of the IEP. This gives you time to review all the details away from the stress of the meeting.
- The meeting concludes with some administrative details such as everybody signing the attendance sheet or verification of notes.
- If at any point during the meeting someone from the district suggests something that is unlawful or negatively impacts your child, you need to speak up.