Or it could mean giving your child more or different kinds of services and support.The IEP team creates the goals in the meeting. When evaluating goals, you discuss:A federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools create an IEP for every child receiving special education services. Kids from age three through high school graduation or a maximum age of twenty two (whichever comes first) may be eligible for an IEP. Annual educational goals: These should be realistic, achievable and measurable. The IEP lists the academic and functional skills that the IEP team thinks your child can achieve by the end of the year. Annual educational goals should help your child participate in the general education classroom.

An explanation of how much your child will participate in general education classes and extracurricular activities: Participation at the fullest level possible is required by law. This is called the least restrictive environment.

The results of your child’s evaluations and tests: This should include district-wide and state assessments.

2. File a due process complaint. If you’re not satisfied with the results of the mediation, you can request a due process hearing by writing an official letter, also called a “complaint.” A due process hearing is a formal meeting where parents and school officials present arguments and evidence to a hearing officer or administrative law judge. This person is not an employee of the school district.

Some states don’t.)If you don’t feel comfortable making a final decision on the spot, you have the right to take the IEP home to review it. Some schools mail a copy of the proposed IEP to you soon after the meeting and ask for your signature. Make sure to double-check everything in it before signing.Supplementary aids and services: These are supports to help a child learn in the general education classroom. They might include a one-on-one aide, highlighted classroom notes, equipment or assistive technology, such as software.

IDEA says that having any of thirteen disabilities may qualify a child for special education. The school and parents review the evaluation and determine whether the results show that your child needs services and supports.“Jake will improve his reading skills” is not a specific or measurable goal. How do you measure his improvement? How much improvement is enough?If your child has multiple or severe disabilities, the law requires that the IEP list short-term goals. These are also called objectives or benchmarks.

When an agreement is reached, get it in writing. However you reach an agreement—during mediation, a resolution session or civil suit—you need a copy of it in writing. In fact, any changes made to your child’s IEP and the steps the school will take need to be documented.

If the IEP team agrees that your child needs services, then the next step is to create an IEP.Extended school year services: Some students receive special education services outside of the regular school year, such as during the summer or, less commonly, during extended breaks like winter break.5 Important Things to Do During an IEP MeetingIDEA requires school districts to set aside some public funding to provide special education services to students in private school. But this funding is limited.

If your child is in a private school, you can ask the public school district to evaluate your child for special education services. If the district agrees to your request, the evaluation will be conducted at no cost to you.2. A decision. The IEP team, which includes parents and school officials, decides whether or not your child needs special education services in order to learn the general education curriculum.

Contingent your minor’s age and berth, his IEP mightiness besides admit:Hither are another key things you and residual of the squad may discourse during the one-year IEP review meeting:After you agree to your child’s IEP and have received a copy, it may be tempting to file it away and forget it. But paying attention will help ensure your child gets the services promised. Since several people are responsible for carrying out the IEP, sometimes the details can be overlooked.

Several people, including parents, are involved in creating the document. The entire process can be a great way to sort out your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Working on the IEP can help you figure out ways to help him succeed in school.

4. File a civil lawsuit. This is the next option if you aren’t satisfied with the result of the due process hearing. Each year your child matures and masters skills. And each year the work becomes more challenging. So his performance and needs will change.A description of how your child’s progress will be measured and reported to you: By law, the IEP must explain how the school will track your child’s progress toward goals.

There may be a time when you and the school don’t see eye to eye and can’t talk through your differences. If that happens, IDEA gives parents several options.

Keep in mind that a physician or another medical professional—not the school—diagnose medical conditions, including ADHD. School evaluators don’t offer “diagnoses.” Find out more about the comprehensive evaluation process.

The date the IEP will go into effect: Many states have formal timelines for this.

Modifications are changes in what is taught to or expected of a student. Some IEPs have what’s called “modified promotional criteria.” This defines the percentage of grade-level expectations a child must meet to move on to the next grade.

For instance, one goal might be that your child be able to read at a third-grade level. The IEP will specify how that will be tracked—informal and formal assessments, for instance—and how often those results will be reported to you. If these interim reports show that your child’s progress has stalled, you and the IEP team may discuss new interventions.

The IEP Meeting: An Overview

The school can’t start providing special education services until you give your permission, which the law refers to as “consent.” You may be asked at the end of the IEP meeting to give your consent to the proposed IEP. (Some states require parents to give written consent, like a signature.Your child struggles in math class, and the teacher’s interventions—extra help after school, a chance to correct his mistakes—don’t help. A scenario like this doesn’t make your child eligible for an IEP. Two things must happen before a child can get special education services.The IEP meeting is when you, teachers and the school give and get input on how your child is doing. You’ll discuss what’s working, what needs to change, and whether your child is catching up or falling further behind. Your child’s feelings and motivations should be included in the conversation, whether or not he attends the IEP meeting.Your child’s IEP team creates the IEP.

If your child is found ineligible, you can still try to get services for your child. For instance, you might pursue a 504 plan.Creating an effective IEP often takes time, effort and patience.

If your child’s school agrees to work with the district, they may work together to create what’s called a “services plan.” This plan is likely to provide fewer services than your child would receive in a public school.

The law requires that every IEP include annual educational goals for the student. IEP goals need to be specific, realistic and measurable. This is very important because it’s how you and the team can tell if your child is making good progress.

Here’s a quick look at what an IEP must include, by law:

Playing a Role in the IEP Process

1. An evaluation. Parents, teachers, a counselor, a doctor or anyone else who suspects a child is struggling can request an evaluation. The school psychologist and other professionals may give your child various tests. They also may observe your child in the classroom.

The law requires the IEP team to review the IEP at least once a year. But the IEP team can meet any time you or the school want a meeting. Many teams meet more often than once a year.

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.

For more practical tips, try using our handy IEP meeting toolkit and other IEP resources to help you prepare for every IEP meeting. You can also turn to our experts for advice on how to understand and make the most of your child’s IEP.

When and Why Teachers Can Be Excused From IEP Meetings

1. Ask for a mediation session. If the school doesn’t automatically offer a mediation session, you can request one. (Be sure to do so in writing.) In this meeting, a mediator helps each party express their positions and understand those of the other parties. The mediator manages the discussion and helps the group reach an agreement. The mediator does not recommend solutions or take sides.

Private schools aren’t required by law to provide special education services. We’ll walk you through the legal language and procedures so it’ll be easier for you to participate. The more you know about the process, the better you can advocate for your child.The IEP meeting is key to making sure your child’s IEP is working for him. It gives you a chance to discuss with teachers your child’s weaknesses and strengths. If your child didn’t meet any or all of his goals that quarter, you can hammer out new ways to help your child. That may mean modifying the goal and adjusting expectations.

Each person on the team plays an important role. By the law, the team includes:A transition plan: This kicks in when your child turns 16. Transition planning includes services and support to help a student graduate from high school and achieve post-high school goals.5.

IEP Terms to Know

If you aren’t fully satisfied with the proposed IEP, you have a few options:

The parents and the district are allowed to bring attorneys and present evidence. (Each state has different procedures; consult your state department of education to find out how to file this complaint and what to include in it.)

If your child receives special education services, he must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). That’s the law. An IEP is an important legal document. It spells out your child’s learning needs, the services the school will provide and how progress will be measured.

Special education and related services to be provided: The IEP spells out what kinds of support and services your child will receive. If your child is going to have speech therapy, for instance, it will say how many minutes a week he will receive this therapy.

Here are steps you can take, usually in the order shown:

Accommodations and modifications: These help your child learn the general education curriculum. Accommodations are changes in how a child shows what he has learned. They can help your child work around his learning issues. For example, he may be given extra time on tests.

During the meeting, the team leader will write a statement about your child’s present level of academic and functional performance (PLOP) and goals. The statement is based on what you and the team have discussed in the meeting. And it must describe how the school will share those results with you.3. Hold a resolution session. Before the due process hearing, the school district is required to hold what’s called a resolution session. This is a meeting between you, key members of the IEP team and someone authorized to make decisions for the district.

It’s also important to note that when a school wants to change your child’s IEP, the school has to give you what’s called “prior written notice.” For example, if the school wants to reduce your child’s services, add to them or change them in any way, it has to tell you ahead of time in writing. Prior written notice gives parents a chance to withdraw their consent and look for ways to resolve the dispute with the school.

You also have the right to invite others to attend your child’s IEP meeting. Be sure to send the school advance written notice of additional attendees. You may find it helpful to invite:

PLOP should be based on teacher observations and objective data, like test results. It’s important that PLOP is not simply copied “as is” from one year’s IEP to the next. It’s the most extreme option available to parents. It requires that parents hire an attorney and go through extensive legal proceedings.How Do I Get My Child’s IEP Going at the Beginning of the School Year?The IEP is meant to address each child’s unique learning issues and include specific educational goals. It is a legally binding document. The school must provide everything it promises in the IEP.

The team leader will also document any changes to the IEP that the team—including you—have agreed to.Your child’s present level of educational performance (PLOP): This is a thorough description of your child’s current abilities, skills, weaknesses and strengths. It’s the part of the IEP that explains how your child’s learning issues affect his ability to learn the general education curriculum. PLOP (also sometimes called PLP or PLAAFP) includes details on how your child handles academic subjects and everyday or “functional” activities, like socializing.IEPs are designed to meet kids’ unique needs. That means that every IEP will look different. But by law, all IEPs must contain the following elements:

You may bring an attorney (at your own expense) but you’re not required to. The school district can only bring an attorney if you do.

Here’s an example of how to make a specific, realistic and measurable goal: “Given a second-grade book, Jake will be able to read a passage orally at 110-130 wpm (words per minute) with random errors.”