Special education services are determined through a strategic step-by-step planning process. The process doesn’t work if any steps are missed or out of order. And it fails if planning takes place without thoughtful discussions about the individual needs of the student with the whole team.
The list of tips and tools below has helped ARD Committees across the country follow the step-by-step process to develop an IEP and focus on the needs of the student.
Prior Written Notice (PWN) - Under IDEA, parents have the right to receive prior written notice (information in writing) from the school each time the school proposes to make changes to the IEP (or chooses not to). These changes include eligibility, evaluation, or placement of your child. If the school does not provide you with Prior Written Notice, request it. Prior Written Notice will help you keep up with your requests, the school's response, and issues that are still on the table. You can download a sample PWN form in Word or PDF format.
Student Introduction Portfolio – Student-Introduction Portfolios are a great tool. Portfolios are used by families to help the ARD committee and teachers learn about the student. It’s helpful for the team to know more than what is included in the IEP. Portfolios can include a student’s strengths, likes, support needs, and short and long term goals. Check out the Texas Project First website for sample pages and more information.
ARD/IEP Agenda – There is an official order or agenda that ARD meetings follow. Following along with the agenda ensures every step is followed in the correct order. You can view an example of an ARD/IEP agenda with descriptions to get an idea of what it looks like. Print a copy and take it with you to the next ARD/IEP meeting for your child. If the meeting does not follow the agenda, ask the committee to stop and address the missed items.
S.M.A.R.T Goals – Ensure the IEP team creates S.M.A.R.T. Goals for your child. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, use action words, are realistic and relevant, and time-limited. S.M.A.R.T goals have clear descriptions of the skills that will be taught and how progress will be measured. Learn more about S.M.A.R.T. goals here.
Supplementary Aids And Services – Supplementary aids and services should be written in your child’s IEP paperwork. Supplementary aids and services are vital for a student with disabilities in general education classes. They are also important for other school activities. It can be accommodations and modifications to the curriculum or it can change the way content is presented or the way a student’s progress is measured. It can also be direct services to a student and training for the staff. For more information visit the Legal Framework for the Child-Centered Special Education Process.
Planning Matrix – Special education is a service NOT a place. The Planning Matrix is a great tool to help ARD/IEP teams determine where a student will receive special education services. Learn more about the Planning Matrix or use the online planning tool on the Texas Project First website.
For more information on special education services, check out Your Child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) on this website.
There are ways your family can help your child get needed services through the school district, starting as early as 3 years old. Here are some tips for requesting these services.
There are many opportunities for parents to provide natural occurring activities to help their children learn—and improve—their skills.