Take a moment and reflect on your child’s IEP and the programming and services that are in that IEP. Which of those are you willing to give up? You are probably asking yourself “What kind of a question is that?” All right then, which would you give up for something else? Farfetched questions? Not if you enter an IEP meeting thinking that IEPs should be negotiated. If, for example, you are thinking that “If I don’t get adapted PE, I will go for more hours of speech therapy,” you are thinking in terms of negotiating your child’s services and are willing to give up something to gain something else. Why would you do that to your child? Let’s look at how an IEP meeting is supposed to proceed.
Let’s assume that the IEP team has agreedto your child’s present levels of academic and functional performance from a review of all available and current information. And from that information, the team has also identified and agreed to the child’s needs that are to be addressed in the IEP. So where is the twist? It’s coming.
Let’s further assume that the goals are written with near perfection by identifying the behaviors (e.g., social or academic, motoric, etc.) to be impacted through implementation of the IEP, citing the conditions under which the behaviors are to be observed (e.g., when given a third grade reading text of 250 words, without prompts, within 10 minutes, etc.) and are stated in measurable terms (e.g., with no more than 2 word identification errors, 90% of requests, with 85% accuracy, etc.). So what’s the big deal, right? Well here it is.
Now it is time to determine which services are to be provided, how much time, how often and where they will be provided. You feel that your child requires more speech and language services than in the past, but the school says that is not possible. You insist and the schools states that it is not necessary for progress to be made, but, you counter that there has been limited progress in the area of language development. A review of the data support your contention and the school offers more speech and language time, but with a needed reduction of adapted PE. You got what you wanted and accept. After the meeting adjourns, you realize–yes here it is—you gave away a needed service that was previously determined to be necessary to meet one or more of your child’s needs and goals. You negotiated away one of your child’s needs. And if you are thinking that this does not happen, it does. But, there is a way to avoid the felt need to do so.
The process that should have been implemented is called the structured collaborative IEP process. It is an easy to use set of questions to be asked, and in a particular order, that will facilitate a collaborative IEP meeting. One which will result in an IEP that will meet your child’s needs and not, as in this case, that of the institution (school) or individual. It is a process of IEP development that poses six key questions to the team. The IEP participants are then responsible for reaching an agreed-to-answer. The process is built on small steps of agreement, so that, for example, when it is time to determine how to meet the goal statements, the answers will be based on the previously agreed-to-answers and decisions. Negotiating is simply not necessary, as the evidence from which to base this decision (i.e., what services are to be provided) has already been established in the identification of needs and goal statements. This makes a decision to lessen services, when the current provision of services is not being successful, as in the case presented, unwarranted
And what happens if the school does insist on reducing services as a bargain? You have become an advocate’s, investigator’s or attorney’s dream. Why? Because you have the documented team’s agreement to your child’s needs based on available data and you have measurable goal statements indicting what behavioral changes are anticipated. To lessen the services would only serve to counter the existing evidence and would make the school responsible for the provision of all services needed by your child
You can learn more of this process by visiting my website to learn more of how to obtain training on the structured collaborative IEP process and stop negotiating away your child’s services. http://www.educationallearningandtraining.com/Getting_The_Yes_.html. To be changed to www.IEPHelp.com in May. Check out IEPHelp.com in May for far more information.