Thursday, January 23, 2014

Preparing Parents for IEPs and Annual Reviews

Sometimes the most stressful part of writing an IEP is communicating with the parents! Here are a few things that I do that make my annual reviews much less stressful!

This post is based on the annual review process in New York State. Some terms and components of an IEP may differ from other states. To ensure that we are on the same page, I am including a glossary with some of the terms that are used in New York State.

IEP: Individualized Education Plan
CSE: Committee on Special Education
CPSE: Committee on Preschool Special Education
Annual Review: Annual meeting to discuss student's progress and finalize documents for the upcoming school year. 
Pre-CSE Meeting: A meeting with the teacher and parent to discuss recommendations for next year (done over the phone or in person).
PLEP Statement: Present Level of Educational Performance- A summary of performance to date

Long before I begin writing my IEPs, I always reach out to the parents to let them know that the process of Annual Reviews has begun. I try to give them as much notice as possible because it is difficult for parents to take time off of work to attend their child's CSE or CPSE meeting. As soon as my district notifies me of my Annual Review date, I notify the parents...sometimes 4 months in advance!

Parent Input Forms
After I notify the parents, I send home a packet for them to complete. A few years ago, New York State added a section to our IEPs that reads "Consideration of student needs that are of concern to the parents". This is included in Academic, Social and Physical PLEPS of the IEP.  It gives parents an opportunity to have a statement regarding their child's academic, social and physical needs. It is required that if a parent expresses any concern or comments about their child's education then it must be in the IEP document. I take exactly what the parents write on my input form and type it verbatim into the document.

Pre-CSE Meeting
In my district it is required that special education teachers meet with parents before Annual Review meetings for a private "pre-CSE meeting". Although this seems like it doubles the work and time spent in meetings, this is a helpful meeting for many reasons. These are the things that I review during this meeting:

  • Student's present academic and social/emotional performance (test scores, recent assessments, reading levels, observations, anecdotal notes)
  • My recommendation for placement for next year
  • Any major concerns that I have
Parents don't like being surprised, and neither do teachers! By meeting with the parents before you go to annual reviews, you are able to discuss your recommendations and concerns and make sure that you and the parents are in agreement with what you are recommending. Parents don't want to find out that their child is regressing in front of a group of strangers. They want to be able to talk intimately and privately about it with you, the teacher. Typically when I get to my annual review meetings, there are no surprises or issues moving forward and we meet very briefly to finalize documents because the parents and I have already discussed all of the details on our own time.

Materials for Home Support
I will often have a summer survival kit or a folder of materials to give to the parents at the annual review meeting. This is typically the last time I will meet with the parents, so it is a good time to hand out a summer reading journal or a list of books to read on vacation. Parents appreciate  all of the tips and tricks you can share! 

Let me know if you have any questions! Happy IEP writing!!

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