IEP Season is here again, the time between late March and the end of the school year when the front of the school is a revolving door of parents, specialists, and sometimes students displaying every shade of emotion.
I’m not sure why IEP Season is near the end of the school year. My hunch is that most kids don’t get identified initially for an IEP until somebody notices halfway through the year that they are struggling with classwork or failing altogether. By the time the first IEP meeting takes place, school is almost over and the entire year is wasted.
I can live with that assumption. What I find troubling is that an IEP near the end of the school year is inefficient and doesn’t help the student with a learning disability or the teacher(s) trying to help them succeed in school.
To parents, the time of year probably doesn’t matter much. No time of the year is a good time for an IEP.
For me, the best time of the year for an IEP is early Fall, a month or so into the school year. I believe so strongly that I officially go on the record as recommending that IEP Season be moved to October through December. Sure, it’s a busy time of the year at school but it’s arguably the best time of the year for the student. After all, isn’t that who the IEP is for in the first place?
Don’t get me wrong, if you have an IEP at the end of the school year and everything is working fine for you, don’t change it. But if the IEP isn’t working to your satisfaction or you’ve seen little progress, maybe a change to October will help.
Why October? School usually begins in August or September. It takes most teachers a month or so to get a feel for their students and most kids and parents to understand what the teacher expects, what kind of homework is given, and if there are any problems with seating, other students, etc. With this knowledge, the IEP will more efficient because any problems can be addressed and monitored early in the year without wasting two-thirds of the school year. If problems are addressed at the end of the year it’s too late. Another year wasted.
October also gives the parents and teachers a face-to-face early on so that they can address potential problems early on and establish a rapport. Phone numbers, email addresses and best communication channels can be established before things get out of control.
It’s still a new school year and everybody is fresh. It helps to keep tempers down at the IEP and the mood is more positive.
When IEP Goals and Objectives are written at the end of the year, they are passed on to a new teacher who the parents and student haven’t even met yet. They are inherited by a teacher that wasn’t present at the meeting and had no say about what might be best. An IEP in October solves this problem.
There really isn’t a lot going on at the end of the school year anyway. An IEP is written, and then the school year ends followed by summer vacation. All momentum is stopped. Who knows what takes place during the summer. Many kids change – a LOT – during summer, both physically and emotionally. What was written in the Spring may not apply quite as much in the Fall. It may sound ridiculous but take a look around at all the kids in the Fall that you knew from the previous year and you’ll probably agree there are some major changes happening over summer break.
I could go on, and may follow up on IEP Season soon. Like I said earlier, if your IEP schedule is already working don’t change it. But if you have one coming up and you’re not happy with the way things have progressed, now is the best time to consider changing it. The school may balk, but as a parent, YOU are part of the IEP Team too. In your upcoming IEP, tell the team that you want to make a change. It’s in the best interest of your child.