We have seen a few IEP's from MVRCS and, as we've mentioned previously, have consulted with individuals who have many years within education and exceptional credentials. The feedback was less than positive, with a few of them being alarming. That being said, while we would welcome the departure of Kathy Kinnon as the Special Education Direction, we don't see that happening. The 'fix' to this issue is to educate our parents of students who are receiving services so that at the very least, parents can document the progress of their children. Many parents find the IEP and special education, services dance incredibly challenging, frustrating, and upsetting. It is difficult to know what you don't know and even more upsetting to find out too late that you didn't know something that mattered. We have come to the conclusion that education is the key, that is educating the parents on how to ensure their child receives the education they are entitled to and deserve. With that as a new mission and purpose to our blog, we will be giving much attention and information that deals specifically with advocating for your children.
Sounds confusing, right?IDEA 2004 requires your child’s IEP to include:
a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional
performance, including how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement
and progress in the general education curriculum . . . [and] a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and . . . meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability.
That is why we can't stress enough the wealth of valuable information parents can find on Wrights Law regarding students who require services under Special Education. We have come across a excerpt from the 2nd edition of their book 'From Emotions to Advocacy' by by Pam Wright and Pete Wright that addresses the writing of 'smarter IEP's' and felt the portion on Goals & Objectives incredibly useful. Parents please know that many teachers have difficulty writing and implementing effective goals and objectives for students. The key is to ensure that they identify not only where the child is going, what they need to get there, and how parents and educators will know when they get there. A statement such as 'Johnny will read a passage in 8 out of 10 tries with 80% accuracy' is not sufficient nor effective. In order to document progress, the passage reading level must identified at both ends (i.e. where the student is and where the student will be). Also, what services, support, and/or methodology will be used to try to get the child to their goal. Without this information, a child could receive the same program or instruction repeatedly without the child making any progress. Ideally, the services, support and/or methodology will be altered if your child does make progress within the first try. One issue with yearly IEP meetings is that if the child isn't making progress, the parents may not find out until they are either retained OR at the following IEP meeting. It is important for parents to stay in contact with all staff that are responsible for providing services or instruction to their child to ensure progress is being made.
Here are some helpful tips and guidelines that are examined in their book and can ensure parents work towards creating an effective and valuable IEP.
The term SMART IEPs describes IEPs that are specific, measurable, use action
words, are realistic and relevant, and time-limited.
A Use Action Words
R Realistic and relevant
SpecificWe have just presented a small portion of this chapter but highly recommend it for any parent preparing for or questioning their child's IEP. We hope that you have found this useful.
SMART IEPs have specific goals and objectives. Specific goals target areas of academic achievement and functional performance. They include clear descriptions of the knowledge and skills that will be taught and how the child’s progress will be measured. Look at these two goals. Which one is specific?
Dylan will increase study skills for academic success.
Dylan will demonstrate the following study skills: skimming written material and use reference materials in social studies class.
SMART IEPs have measurable goals and objectives. Measurable means you can count or observe it. Measurable goals allow parents and teachers to know how much progress the child has made since the performance was last measured. With measurable goals, you will know when the child reaches the goal.
Which of these two goals is measurable and observable?
Owen will improve his reading skills.
Given second grade material, Owen will read a passage of text orally at 110-130 wpm with random errors.
IEP goals include three components that must be stated in measurable terms:
(a) direction of behavior (increase, decrease, maintain, etc.)
(b) area of need (i.e., reading, writing, social skills, transition, communication, etc.)
(c) level of attainment (i.e., to age level, without assistance, etc.)
SMART IEPs use action words like: “The child will be able to . . .”
Which of these goals is specific, measurable and includes action words?
Betsy will decrease her anger and violation of school rules.
Provided with anger management training and adult support, Betsy will be able to remove herself from environments that cause her to lose control of her behavior so that she has no disciplinary notices.
Realistic and Relevant
SMART IEPs have realistic, relevant goals and objectives that address the child’s unique needs that result from the disability. SMART IEP goals are not based on district curricula, state or district tests, or other external standards.
Which of these goals is specific, measurable and realistic? (From SMART IEPs 117 www.fetaweb.com)
Kelsey will demonstrate improved writing skills.
Kelsey will improve her writing and spelling skills so she can write a clear, cohesive, and readable paragraph consisting of at least 3 sentences, including compound and complex sentences that are clearly related.
SMART IEP goals and objectives are time-limited. What does the child need to know and be able to do after one year of special education? What is the starting point for each of the child’s needs (present levels of academic achievement and functional performance)?
Time-limited goals and objectives enable you to monitor progress at regular intervals.
Assume your child is in the fifth grade. Alex’s reading skills are at the early third grade level. Here is a specific, measurable, time-limited goal that tells you what Alex can do now and what he will be able to do after one year of special education:
Present Level of Performance: Given third grade material, Alex reads 50-70 wpm with 4-6 errors.
Annual Goal: Given fifth grade material, Alex will read 120 wpm with only random errors.
To ensure that Alex meets his goal, we will measure his progress at nine-week intervals (4 times during the school year).
After 9 weeks, given third grade material, Alex will read 110 to 120 wpm with 1-3 errors.
After 18 weeks, given fourth grade material, Alex will read 70-100 wpm with 1-3 errors.
After 27 weeks, given fifth grade material, Alex will read 70-100 wpm with 1-3 errors.
At the end of the year, Alex will read 120 wpm with only random errors.