So, you made it halfway through the IEP. The IEP team discussed your child’s academic performance, goals and objectives were identified, and accommodations and/or modifications have been suggested. Now, IEP team moves on to the subject of placement and mentions that there are a continuum of placement options that must be discussed. This is where some parents get confused or feel that they are forced into a box on where and how the school will provide services for their child.
Under IDEA, it is presumed that students with disabilities are most appropriately educated with their non-disabled peers and removing them from the general education environment should only occur when the severity of a student’s disability limits them from satisfactorily achieving in the general education classroom, even with supportive aides and services. Additionally, even though a student with a disability may receive accommodations and/or modifications, this should not remove them from the general education classroom.
It is important for parents to know about each continuum of placement option before an IEP meeting, so that you can follow along as the IEP team discusses these options. Here is a breakdown of the options.
General education classroom – the student is educated in the general education classroom by a general education teacher without any special education services
General education classroom with Additional Supportive Services – Supplementary aides and services (ie. accommodations, behavior support, sign language) are provided in the general education classroom with services from special education personnel
Consultative – the student is educated in the general education classroom by a general education teacher and with direct services from special education personnel for at least one subject
Collaborative - the student is educated in the general education classroom by a general education teacher and with direct services from special education personnel for a set time (determined by the IEP team)
Co – Teaching – the student is educated in the general education classroom with direct services from special education teacher and the general education teacher for all subjects
Small group – the student receives instruction outside of the general education classroom in a special education classroom provided by a special education teacher
Special day class or school – separate day class, school or program
Hospital/Homebound – services provided by special education personnel
It is the IEP committee’s responsibility to determine what options are appropriate for each subject area that they are eligible to receive services in. It is also critical for parents to remember that just because a student needs small group instruction for reading, does not mean that he or she will need small group instruction for all subjects. As IDEA states, students with disabilities should be included in the general education setting as much as possible. The general education classroom without any support should always be considered first. Once parents have a full understanding of what each placement options provides, you, as their advocate, can be better informed about what is more appropriate for your child.
Nicole Reed, Ed.S. is a special education teacher and advocate for students with disabilities. She has over eight years of experience teaching and working with students with various disabilities. You can follow her on Twitter @Educator_4_You