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How to Plan for Your Child’s IEP Annual Assessment

iep annual assessmentAs a parent of a child who has autism, Down syndrome or another disability, it is important to know if he or she is eligible for special education services. The school system is difficult to navigate without some planning. That’s why getting ready for your child’s IEP (Individualized Educational Program) annual assessment is an important step in managing your child’s education.

An IEP annual assessment is a meeting required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that must be held at least once a year. The meeting brings the IEP team together to review the student’s progress and program, and plan for the following year. As with other IEP meetings, the school district must provide parents with advance written notice of the meeting and consider their availability when scheduling the meeting.

Going into the IEP annual assessment can still be stressful. How do you remember everything you want to say? Make sure you’re prepared and remember to bring everything you need to bring.

The following checklist is great to use to get organized for your next IEP annual assessment:
  • A folder with all your documentation
  • A notepad and pen to take notes
  • An advocate who can support you
  • A smartphone recording app if you’ll be recording the meeting
  • A list of questions you want to address
  • Notes about approaches that do or don’t work at home
  • Any private evaluations you want to share
  • Evaluation reports from your child’s most recent school
  • Parent-school communication log detailing phone calls, meetings or emails to or from school
  • A letter of your concerns to attach to the IEP that lists your child’s strengths and challenges

Check your child’s progress at the annual IEP assessment

The team first discusses your child’s progress on IEP goals and objectives that were written last year. Different team members, including parents, report.

The team measures whether the IEP is working by reviewing the gains the team had expected your child to make over the past year. The IEP annual assessment starts with a review of how the plan worked in helping your child meet those goals. If your child did not meet a goal, the discussion should include whether the appropriate support, services, accommodations/modifications and specialized instruction were provided, whether the placement was appropriate, and what factors interfered with your child meeting that goal. If your child easily met or exceeded the goals, this means that he or she may need a higher set of expectations for next year—and the placement and support necessary to accomplish greater challenges.

Write new goals and determine specialized instruction and services

As always, goals should be Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic and Relevant, and Time-specific (SMART). Because goals drive the IEP annual assessment, take the time to have a broad discussion of what areas your child needs goals in—academics, social skills, behavior, mental health, motor skills, etc. All areas of need, regardless of the disability, must be addressed. If not, your child cannot gain skills in each area of need necessary for educational success.

Consider new placement and services

Determine whether the current placement and program are working based on the prior steps and will support the new goals. If your child is not participating in a general education classroom, this is a good time to ask what supports will be necessary to provide a greater percentage of the time learning with non-disabled peers. If your child attends a state-certified non-public school (NPS), this is a time to discuss how he or she may be provided with integrated learning opportunities with typically developing peers.

Develop a new IEP

The meeting is “complete” when the IEP team, including you as the parent, has agreed to an IEP document that fully describes your child’s program for the upcoming year. Any areas where the previous plan did not work well should be identified and corrected. Needs for transitional support should also be discussed.

Being prepared for your IEP annual assessment can make it easier. It can also help to  bring your own team of advisors to a meeting.

If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.

American Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.

Contact us for help. Dial (888) 323-2133 or email us at [email protected]