Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A GREAT Resource for Parents on What Makes an IEP Effective

This article is incredibly useful for parents of special education students at MVRCS. We suggest having your childs IEP nearby for comparision (you should have received one at your last meeting but Kathy Kinnon would be able to provide you with a copy) as you read through this.

FAPE.org is also an excellent resource for Parents. Another useful article on how to tell if your child is making progress can be found at: http://www.pacer.org/parent/php/PHP-c78.pdf . The main index can be found here: http://www.fape.org/pubs/index.html.

“Facts-on-Hand” is an easy to read series on special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

IDEA is the nation’s special education law. Under IDEA, if a child is found to be a child with a disability, he or she is eligible for special education and related services. If your child has a disability and is eligible for special education and related services, a team of people will gather to talk about what special instruction and services your child needs. This team includes you, the parent. The team reviews the information available about your child. This includes such information as classroom work, reports from teachers and from you, and achievement test results. It also includes the results of individual evaluations of your child, whether conducted by the school or private practitioners. You and the other team members use this information to determine how your child is currently doing in school and what special needs he or she has. For example, your child may have trouble with reading, writing, paying attention, speaking, or behaving appropriately. Together, the team decides what your child needs to work on during the year. Team decisions are written down in a document called the Individualized Education Program (IEP). An important part of your child’s IEP will be his or her annual goals and short-term objectives1. This “Facts-on-Hand” explains more about annual goals and short-term objectives.

What are annual goals and short-term objectives?
Every child with an IEP has goals and objectives for the
year. Goals and objectives are written statements in the IEP. They describe what the child will learn or focus on the upcoming year in school.
Goals look at big steps. They state what the child is expected to learn during the year. For example, take Suzie.

She’s six and only knows the names of a few objects. An annual goal for Suzie could be, “ Suzie will correctly name 60 new objects”.
Objectives (or in other cases, benchmarks) are smaller steps. They break the annual goal down into smaller pieces. For example, Suzie has the goal of naming 60 new objects. This goal may be broken down into several
objectives such as:
1. By December 31, Suzie will name 20 new objects in her environment.
2. By March 15, Suzie will name 20 additional new objects in her environment.
3. By June 15, Suzie will name 20 additional objects in her environment.
When Suzie meets all of these objectives, she also reaches her annual goal.
Suzie’s IEP will have goals and objectives written just for her. There should be a connection between her individual needs and the goals and objectives in her IEP. The goals and objectives must also relate to how Suzie will be involved and make progress in the academic content that
all other children are doing.

What does Suzie need to do to meet a goal or objective?
How will the IEP team measure Suzie’s progress?

Suzie’s IEP must include information about how her progress toward the annual goals will be measured. This information may be in another part of the IEP or written directly into the goal and objective statements themselves. For example, one of Suzie’s objectives could read: Suzie
will correctly name 20 new objects, nine out of ten times, based on teacher observation.
1 Please note: Sometimes major accomplishments called benchmarks
are used in the IEP rather than objectives. Everything that
applies to objectives applies to benchmarks in the same fashion.

How will I know if my daughter is meeting her goals?
The IEP must include a statement of how the school will let you know how your daughter is doing at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled children’s progress. At this time, they will describe your daughter’s progress towards each of her goals and whether she is making enough progress to reach her goals by the end of the year. Be sure to
review this information carefully.

What do I do if my son isn’t making good progress toward his goals?
If you don’t think that your son is making enough progress on his goals, there are several things that you can do. First, talk to his special education teacher or principal. You may need to ask for an IEP meeting. Your son’s IEP can be reviewed and changed at any time of the year. The IEP team (which includes you) can look at your son’s progress. Maybe he
needs more services. Perhaps the goals and objectives need to be changed. Maybe more testing is needed. Together, your son’s IEP team can decide what needs to be done to help him make progress.

My son has an IEP with written goals and objectives. For most classes, he does not need extra help, just a special seating arrangement. Do we need to write goals and objectives for this accommodation?
No. If your son only needs special seating to be successful in the regular classroom, his IEP does not need to include goals and objectives for the special seating. Special seating is an accommodation that he needs to succeed. This needs to be recorded in his IEP. Accommodations and modifications are usually not written as goals and objectives, but put into another part of the IEP. Your son’s IEP will include a statement of any services and supports (including accommodations, program modifications or interventions) the school will provide your son.

Real Life Example
Maria is in fourth grade. She has a learning disability.
Tests show that Maria can read first grade books at a rate of 20 – 30 words per minute. The IEP team writes an annual goal for Maria to improve her reading.

Annual Goal:
Maria will read 2nd grade material at a rate of 60 – 80 words a minute with no more than 0 – 2 errors.

By November 15, Maria will read 1st grade material at a rate of 60 – 80 words per minute with no more than 3 – 5 mistakes.
By February 15, Maria will read 1st grade material at a rate of 80 – 100 words per minute with no more than 0 –2 mistakes.
By April 15, Maria will read 2nd grade material at a rate of 40 – 60 words per minute with no more than 3 – 5 mistakes.
By June 15, Maria will read 2nd grade material at a rate of 60 – 80 words per minute with no more than 0 – 2 mistakes.

Maria’s teacher records Maria’s reading and error rates throughout the year in order to measure her progress.

For a look at what the law says:
See the IDEA regulations Section 300.347, and Appendix A.
The regulations are available online at www.ed.gov/offices/
They are also available in hard copy at no charge from ED
Pubs. Order online at www.edpubs.org or by phone
1.877.433.7827, 1.877.576.7734 TTY/TDD, 301.470.1244
For more information:
See FAPE Facts-on-Hand - Modifications and
Other resources
The Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers
(The Alliance)
888.248.0822, www.taalliance.org
The National Information Center for Children and Youth
with Disabilities (NICHCY)
800.695.0285, www.nichcy.org
Funding for the FAPE Project comes from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (Cooperative
Agreement No. H326A980004). This document was reviewed by the U. S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP),
the OSEP Project Office, and the FAPE Project Director for consistency with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Amendments of 1997. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department
of Education, nor does mention of other organizations imply endorsement by those organizations or the U.S. Government.


  1. Thank you for posting this information. Hopefully parents will find this a useful tool and use it to help their children.

  2. Another good resource is the DESE website. There is the parents rights brochure called"procedural safeguards" that outlines your rights and the rights of your children with special needs. Hopefully MV will wise up regarding their practices towards disabled children and their families. They do not have the right to say "we don't do that here" if they are a public school. WHy would they stoop like that anyway? To get away with trampling a disabled child's civil rights? A trained special needs teacher, actual on staff counselors and knowledge of the law is better money spent than a new athletic facility. I hope they use this opportunity to change and get some accountable, educated and legally savvy people in their sped department. What a mess and an embarrassment.

  3. Hey dipshit, MV DOES HAVE fulltime psyd folks on staff; why don't you GET YOUR FACTS right before talking smack! Another uninformed loser...

  4. To the poster above instructing us to get our facts straight, the school outsources their counseling services, they are NOT employees of the school. The problem with this is that the school is the client of the counseling company which means they must adhere to what the Administration wants. Also, the counselors are NOT in the building all day every day so if an incident occurs, they may or may not be in the building.
    The children in the school who have any emotional, behavioral, or issues such as Autism, should have an outside evaluation and bring the childs IEP. Most children in the school with these types of issues are NOT getting the services they require.
    You really should be a bit nicer to people.

  5. why are you so hostile?
    Unless much has changed in a year, they contract out for psy services. No one on staff-they contract out for speech and OT services too. There would be nothing wrong with that if it were effective. I think the firm is Dominguez based in Boston, but that may have changed. I know one parent whose child waited until December for counseling services due to scheduling problems. The real problem was that the IEP was signed and dated from September. Also, few of the teachers rec'd the IEP. That is illegal and the school has hopefully wised up since then because there have been lawsuits based on far lesser infractions that have cost schools a fortune.
    Hey , I will gladly check to see if they have since put counselors on staff-that would be great news! A step in the right direction. Really no need for such misdirected anger. I just want the school to be compliant and avoid embarrassing problems that would effect my child's education.

  6. I checked the website and it still is contracted out. The name is Domingos - he has a psy firm and people are listed with MVRCS emails are a part of this outside firm. The psy's name who couldn't schedule my friend's child until December is still listed.
    So please leave the name calling nonsense and lets figure out what to do about this problem before it becomes a disaster. Pretending the problems don't exist is foolish and a bad gamble. I would rather the school quickly and honestly address this so as not to cause any greater problems. But if the school keeps ignoring it they will anger the wrong litigious person ( parent). That would be the really scary thought. There will eventually be a parent who is so ticked off they will sue, regardless of what it ends up doing to their child. Most parents slink away, afraid of the consequences to their child of a legal battle with a school- and schools in general count on that. A blog will not destroy the school. Actual illegal actions and poor treatment of special needs kids could cause huge problems.

  7. They would rather spend on athletic coaches than deal with children with psychological problems. The school spent a ton of money to attain an accredidation which they did not get due to lack of a guidance counselor which was the deal breaker. This is where the "weeding out" comes into play. If your child has a problem, they are potential trouble makers so it is their philosophy to not provide services or make it difficult to obtain services so you will leave.

  8. Speaking here from first hand experience. They absolutely do outsource their psychological services, odd, had never experienced that in the district school. Kevin Domingos is less than impressive as are the evaluations his staff complete. Kevin appears arrogant and attempts to speak of first hand knowledge of students merely by reading paperwork and undermines the seriousness of established learning disabilities.
    Although I feel the SPED dept could use some tightening up, personal attacks on Kathy Kinnon and name calling aren't the way to go about it.