The Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states, “(1) the parents of a child with a disability must be afforded an opportunity to participate in (IEP) meetings with respect to (i) the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child; and (ii) the provision of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) to the child.”
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) defines Parent Involvement as, “the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities including:
• Assisting their child’s learning;
• Being actively involved in their child’s education at school;
• Serving as full partners in their child’s education and being included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child; and
• The carrying out of other activities such as those described in section 1118 of the ESEA” Section 9101(32).
As you can see there is a big difference between parent participation in an IEP meeting as defined by IDEA and parent involvement in education as defined by NCLB. The ironic part is, although they have different meanings I don’t think it’s possible to have effective parent participation in an IEP unless parents are also involved in educating their child. So although they have different meaning they really need to go hand in hand to be effective. Below is a list of ten reasons why parent involvement in an IEP is crucial:
1. Research has proven that parent involvement in education is a predictor of a child’s academic success;
2. Good communication between parent and school will alert you to whether any changes such as new goals need to be added to the IEP;
3. Respect between school and parents will help negotiations run smoother;
4. Keeping track of your child’s ability to complete class work and homework will alert you to whether your child is accessing the curriculum;
5. Making sure your child is in the proper placement will help your child access the curriculum;
6. Addressing academic discrepancies early will allow your child to catch up in the future;
7. Working on goals in both the School and Home environment consistently will help your child achieve better success;
8. Keeping track of your child’s services will let you know whether the school is out compliance;
9. Parents and Teachers share the same goal of preparing your child for independent living, postsecondary education and employment; and
10. Your child’s future is at stake.
Remember, parent involvement does not mean the teacher should do everything your way or vice-versa. The goal is to create a partnership with the teacher where everyones opinion counts so that your child can receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). When a Parent or Teacher feel they have all the answers they have most likely lost sight of the question. And the question should always be how do we educate the child to prepare them for life.