Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Dec 01
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by Dennise Goldberg

I’m bringing this up today because we are heading to my son’s annual IEP meeting this morning. Preparation for his meeting didn’t start this week; it began when the school year started. As soon as he started doing homework, doing class assignments and taking tests, we’ve been keeping track of it. Why, because we’ve been gathering data about his strengths and needs. Remember every time your child enters a new grade level, they have a whole new set of curriculum standards to learn. Some of the concepts might be building on curriculum from the previous year so it will be familiar to them, but some will be brand new.

For our children who struggle with academics, it’s extremely important to track how they are able to deal with their new academic challenges. For example my son is in the 5th grade, so now he has to be able to identify inferences in his reading comprehension assignments and tests. Because he struggles with abstract concepts, he has had a difficult time in this area. We’ve been watching him struggle all semester, so I asked his Teacher and the Resource Specialist last week to come up with a goal to address this area of need when we meet today. They both agreed that he needs a new goal to help him in this area. Another new goal that we need to add is regarding creative writing. Although he can do factual writing it is extremely difficult for him to write creatively, again because the concept is abstract for him. Academics are not the only area you should track all year long, but rather all areas of need should be monitored for ways to improve functioning. One other such area is behavior problems.

Many children with disabilities have behavioral issues; some are more disruptive than others. For those parents who have children with behavior or discipline problems, you need to keep a log all year long how many times your school has called you to pick up your child or talk to them because they were not behaving in school. As an advocate, I’ve been told by many parents that their school has called them on a daily basis to either pick up their child or talk to them on the phone because they were not compliant in school. We always tell our clients to keep a log of dates, times and reason why you received the phone call. Why keep track, because if your child’s IEP was working, the school shouldn’t be calling you to discipline your child during school hours. If they are, then you have all your data to request additional services to assist your child in school. Even if you cannot work out the issues in an IEP meeting the logs you keep can be used as evidence in a Due Process hearing. Documentation and evidence will always help you resolve outstanding issues.

As you can see, advocating for your child comes in all forms. Speaking up for your child in an IEP meeting is only one component. Year round advocacy allows you to be proactive in your child’s education. As a result, you will be a productive member of your child’s IEP team. With the data you and your school have collected, the team will have a better chance of addressing all your child’s needs; then the team can write a goal for every area of need. Like I’ve said in the past, “needs drive goals and goals drive services.” At the end of the day, year round advocacy can possibly help your child receive more services from your school district…who wouldn’t want that for their child!!!


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