The purpose of an Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meeting is to give parents a voice in determining their child's Individual Educational Plan (IEP). During the process, parents and school personnel are equal, and you have a chance to determine how your child will learn.

Know that an ARD is necessary to place your child in his special education program. In addition to the IEP being reviewed at least annually, you'll meet periodically for an ARD whenever a change is needed in his schooling.

Realize that the meeting will consist of a representative from the school, general education and special education teachers, someone from the special ed assessment team and other professionals depending on your child's abilities.

Listen as your child's assessment reports are read. They will describe her learning capabilities, needs and recommendations. Take notes and jot down questions.

Share the results of any testing you've gotten from outside professionals prior to the ARD. This will allow it to be read over and taken into account for the IED.

Voice your opinion. Play an active role during the ARD. You're there to help structure a learning environment that meets your child's needs. Make everyone aware of any special issues your child confronts.

Sign the papers at the end of the meeting to show that you participated in creating the IEP. State whether you agree with the plan. If you don't, you'll be offered the chance to recess the meeting for up to 10 days. During this time, all participants get the additional information they need to reach an agreement.