An IEP stands for a Individualized Education Plan and is typically implemented for students who are deemed to have special needs. This term can be a catch-all phrase for students with a number of diseases and disabilities, from Down syndrome to chronic health conditions. There is no one IEP teacher, but typically a team of people (special education teachers, school system representatives, aides and interpreters, principals, parents, nonspecial education teacher and field experts) working on one goal. They share duties and responsibilities.
Discuss Performance and Goals
Together, the IEP team discusses where the child is academically and socially. The team comes up with an organized plan to help the child improve by a certain measured amount within one year. These are the annual goals. Those involved in the IEP also typically discuss with the student his goals after graduation. The long-term goal is getting the child up to that level, with annual goals as milestones along the way.
Some children with an IEP require special services, such as an interpreter, an aide who accompanies them to classes, someone who takes notes for them or a teacher hired by the state to help with lessons while they are in the hospital or must stay home because of health issues. Those involved in the IEP coordinate this, as well as any other accommodations that need to be made to the classroom or school (such as installation of a ramp for a wheelchair).
Progress and Assessment
A student's progress must be measured and assessed to ensure she is meeting the milestones set out for her. Together, the IEP team discusses the best ways to measure progress. For certain children, participation in statewide testing and other traditional methods is appropriate. For other children, other concessions need to be made and agreed upon within the IEP group.
Participation with Other Children
Some children with IEPs are involved exclusively in nonspecial education classes, such as those with a physical disability or chronic illness, and therefore interact with children who are not disabled on a daily basis. Others are segregated for their classes. An IEP outlines how much interaction with children in the regular classroom is appropriate and what kinds of activities they can do together.
Duties and Responsibilities of the Individual
There are a variety of duties and responsibilities of the individuals involved within the IEP program. Aides and interpreters help the child achieve his academic goals and thrive in the classroom daily. Teachers deliver the coursework and engage the child in class. Third-party experts evaluate the child's development, physical capabilities and progress, while state and district representatives ensure that the plans in place are compliant with regulations. However, when working with an IEP, there is no one person held accountable for the child. Instead, this is largely a team effort.
The Child and the Family
Key members of the IEP team are the child himself and the family of the child. If appropriate, the child should be consulted and his input considered when devising an IEP. The family is also important. IEP team members, such as the teacher and area specialists, speak with the family on a regular basis, update them on progress and pitfalls and discuss how the IEP is impacting the child outside of school. In most families, the parents are more familiar than the rest of the IEP team with their child's abilities and limitations, thus, they are key components in helping a child succeed within the framework of the IEP.
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