Aug 032013

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If you’re a parent who is new to special education or IEPs, this tutorial was written to let you know the laws about IEPS. Going through the tutorial will help you understand the required sections for your child’s IEP. I’ll explain each section, what is supposed to be in it and how to write that section.

Towards the end of the tutorial I’ll share examples of IEP goals for reading, writing, math and other areas. My hope is that by the end of this FREE IEP tutorial, you’ll be able to understand IEPs and advocate better for your child. Here are the contents of this IEP training:


IEPs Course Description
Course Objectives
Course Content
User Agreement
Copyright Statement


Required IEP Sections

Present Level of Performance IEP Section

Unit Objectives
Section Contents
IDEA’s Specifications
Tips for Writing Out the Present Levels of Performance.

IEPs Goals & Objectives

Unit Objectives
Section Contents
IDEA’s Specifications
Tips for Writing Effective IEP Goals.

IEPs Supports & Services

Unit Objectives
Section Contents
IDEA’s Specifications
Tips for Writing the Supports and Services section.

IEP Accomodations & Modifications

Unit Objectives
Section Contents
IDEA’s Specifications
Tips for Writing the Accommodations section.

IEPs Measures of Progress

Unit Objectives
IDEA’s Specifications
Tips for Writing Your Child’s Measures of Progress

IEP Placement Decisions

Unit Objectives
IDEA’s Specifications
Tips for Writing The IEP Placement Section


Discussion Board
IDEA Practices
Wright’s Law
LD Online
Schwab Learning Foundation
All Kinds of Minds
International Dyslexia Association
Children & Adults with ADD
Site Map

I hope you find this Free IEP training tutorial highly valuable. This training will help you become a knowledgeable, contributing member of your child’s IEP team.

Dive in and Begin this IEP Training Tutorial to learn more about helping your child.

Aug 032013

IEP Information Training Synopsis

All Individual Education Plans should:

Clearly define the child’s learning style, strengths, and weaknesses.

Have objective, measurable goals that the child can complete within one year.

Clearly define supports and services which enable the child to participate in the general curriculum at the fullest extent possible.

ANSWER: ALL of the Above!

As you know from going through this complete IEP information training, there’s a lot to know about IEPs. By learning all about IEPs, you can become your child’s best advocate.

Congratulations on completing the IEP Information Basic Training!

(If you landed here without coming through the training and want to know more, you can start this free IEP information training from the beginning.

To expand your understanding, you might also want to read the Interpretive Q&A information provided in IDEA Appendix A.

This is the most readable portion of IDEA and will give you a clear picture of what is required in IEPs. By reading this one Appendix, you will know far more about IDEA than most IEP meeting participants. You will be able to be an effective, helpful member of the team who is undertaking the critical task of meeting the education needs of a child.

With IDEA being reauthorized, the most recent changes to the code have not yet been made fully available in an easy, searchable format like the old regulations. For information on the current reauthorization efforts, you can go to the Council for Exceptional Children’s website and look for the “IDEA Law and Resources” link in the main menu.

If you haven’t done so already, you might want to visit our resource pages. They will provide you with long-term resources to support any situation you may encounter in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to learn IEP Information and for supporting your child in every way you can. You are the primary advocate your child has and your child needs you to be his voice.

May you lead your child to great heights academically and in life!

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Aug 032013

IEP Placement Decisions – The Least Restrictive Environment LRE

When determining a child’s IEP placement, careful consideration should be given to the child’s ability to learn in the regular classroom at his local school.

Can your child learn in the regular classroom if a personal aide is provided? Can your child learn with an assistant or assistive technology?

IDEA states that placement cannot be based upon “administrative convenience” or available resources. A child must be placed in the least restrictive environment ( LRE ) that will provide meaningful academic progress.

However, if the child is a danger to himself or others, a more restrictive placement may be needed.

LRE Placement is based on individual needs

The placement must be based solely upon your child’s individual needs. Placement choices can’t be limited to a classroom or program the school “typically” uses. A parent can’t insist on a specific placement either. If the school offers an appropriate placement, then they have met the legal requirements under IDEA.

LRE is based upon a full continuum of placement options

LRE placements include all types of program choices. Placement options include services such as resource pull-out programs, before or after school tutoring, home instruction, special schools, general classroom with or without an aid, etc. Schools must provide a full “continuum of alternative placements”.

In other words, any placement should be offered if it is what the child needs. Your child’s school can’t say, “This is what we always do, so it’s the only option.”

The key is to always provide what your child needs. IDEA is all about what your child needs.

Just to re-emphasize what LRE is based on: LRE Placement is not dictated by what the school has available or what the school administrators are willing to provide. LRE is not based on what the parents would like. The LRE is based on your child’s individual needs.

Your child has a right to an appropriate education. Your child deserves an opportunity to meet academic standards that include progress in the general curriculum. If able to learn, your child is supposed to be provided the same educational opportunities provided to typical students.

LRE Least Restrictive Environment Placement

lre least restrictive environment idea advocacy
Your child’s placement should be written into the IEP as a statement of the location for instruction, duration of teaching, and the specific setting.


Regular Classroom, 5 hours/day, 5 days/week, with 1-on-1 collaborative teacher 1 hour/day, 5 days/week during Mathematics and Grammar.

Occupational Therapy, 30 minutes/day, 3 days/week, Group of 3 children.

Placement is determined at the end of the IEP process. LRE placement is based upon the defined needs of YOUR child. No one can, or should, make a placement decision prior to completing the rest of the IEP. Once all of your child’s needs are identified, then the IEP team (including YOU) can make the best decision about how and where your child should be taught.

You can read the IDEA LRE statutes at: Least Restrictive Environment LRE

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Aug 032013

Special Education Placement Decisions – The Least Restrictive Environment:

When determining your child’s special education placement, the clear intent of IDEA is that children should remain in the regular classroom whenever possible.

In determining your child’s special education placement, IDEA §300.114(b) General LRE requirements states: “(b) Each public agency shall ensure— (1) That to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities” —”are educated with children who are nondisabled; and (2) That special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”

IDEA Appendix A, Question #1 about special education placement requires that:
“(1) each child with a disability be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate (§300.550(b)(1));
(2) each child with a disability be removed from the regular educational environment only when the nature or severity of the child’s disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily (§300.550(b)(1)); and

(3) to the maximum extent appropriate to the child’s needs, each child with a disability participates with nondisabled children in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities (§300.553).

IDEA Appendix A, Question #39 “If the child can appropriately function in the regular classroom with appropriate behavioral supports, strategies or interventions, placement in a more restrictive environment would be inconsistent with the least restrictive environment provisions of the IDEA.

IDEA regulations §300.552 also state, “Unless the IEP of a child with a disability requires some other arrangement, the child is educated in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled; In selecting the LRE, consideration is given to any potential harmful effect on the child or on the quality of services that he or she needs; and A child with a disability is not removed from education in age-appropriate regular classrooms solely because of needed modifications in the general curriculum.

special education placement and iep advocacy

Special Education Placement Quiz Question

Should a student be given a special education placement outside of his neighborhood school?

Answer: Special education placement depends upon the child’s individual needs. The child may or may not be placed outside of his neighborhood school.

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Aug 032013

Student Accommodations and Modifications

If your child has an IEP, then your IEP team must consider the need for student accommodations. This page is specifically about the legal requirements, but you’ll more about specific accommodations as you go through the “NEXT” pages in this tutorial (links at bottom of this page).

IDEA §300.324 says IEPs should include the —
(i) Appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies for the child; and
(ii) Supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and support for school personnel” —

IDEA also says in section 300.320 (6)(i) that an IEP must include “A statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and district-wide assessments.”

Additionally, IDEA specifies in Sec. 300.105 Assistive technology.
“(a) Each public agency must ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both, as those terms are defined in Sec. Sec. 300.5 and 300.6, respectively, are made available to a child with a disability if required as a part of the child’s–
(1) Special education under Sec. 300.36;
(2) Related services under Sec. 300.34; or
(3) Supplementary aids and services under Sec. Sec. 300.38 and 300.114(a)(2)(ii).
(b) On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child’s home or in other settings is required if the child’s IEP Team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE.”

The IDEA Appendix A says, “The Act requires the IEP team to determine, and the public agency to provide, the accommodations, modifications, supports, and supplementary aids and services, needed by each child with a disability to successfully be involved in and progress in the general curriculum achieve the goals of the IEP, and successfully demonstrate his or her competencies in State and district-wide assessments.”

“Public agencies often require all children, including children with disabilities, to demonstrate mastery in a given area of the general curriculum before allowing them to progress to the next level or grade in that area. Thus, in order to ensure that each child with a disability can effectively demonstrate competencies in an applicable area of the general curriculum, it is important for the IEP team to consider the accommodations and modifications that the child needs to assist him or her in demonstrating progress in that area.”

§300.342 (b)(3) Each teacher and provider must be informed of—(ii) The specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the child in accordance with the IEP. The teacher must know what provisions have been decided upon in order to utilize them effectively.

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Student Accommodations Quiz Question

A district’s list of specific accommodations and modifications places limits on what a school can provide the child.

Answer: False. The list of student Accommodations is a starting point, but does not limit your school’s options for helping your child.

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Aug 032013

IEP Accommodations and Modifications –
Help your child access general curriculum:

iep accommodationsiep accommodations

One required section in your child’s IEP is the accommodations and modifications section. IEP accommodations provide your child equal access to the curriculum.

For example, if your child can’t yet read, having audiobooks for all textbooks is a great IEP accommodation. The audio books let your child listen to the textbooks, so he has equal access to the information.

Other accommodations can include help with note-taking, extended-time for testing, the ability to provide answers orally, etc. The accommodations your child gets depends on your child’s disability and educational needs.

This section of the tutorial will help you understand the IEP accommodations and modifications section of your child’s IEP. The Objectives for this unit include the following:

By the end of this “IEP Accommodations and Modifications” unit, you will be able to:

– Explain the difference between accommodations and modifications.

– List five examples of IEP accommodations that don’t help your child progress in the general curriculum.

– Provide five examples of IEP modifications.

– Explain why modifications should be avoided when possible.

IEP accommodations are one of the easiest ways to support your child in the general classroom. Accommodations give your child full participation and access in school. They allow that without affecting the quality of your child’s education.

Additionally, accommodations are a key for insuring your child is included in the regular classroom as much as possible.

IDEA wants to be sure that children with disabilities are educated in the regular classroom as much as possible. The kids are supposed to be taught with their typical peers.

Sometimes a child’s disabilities do not permit him to learn the same content, on grade-level, with typical peers. In those cases, modifications to the general curriculum may be necessary.

You’ll need to stay involved in your child’s education to insure modifications are not used if IEP accommodations would work.

To begin with, list your child’s areas of disability. Use the resource sites listed later in this unit to research IEP accommodations that might help your child learn better.

iep accommodations

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Aug 032013

The IEP Process for Writing Goals and Objectives – Define what your child will achieve:

There are seven common areas of need which may require specialized instruction. Not every child who requires instruction in any of these areas is considered a child with a disability. Only children who meet IDEA defined criteria for having a disability receive specialized instruction in these needed areas.

If you are in an IEP meeting, then your child IS a child with a disability. Through the IEP process she can receive instruction in any or all areas of need, as agreed upon by the IEP team.

Areas of instruction an IEP team can develop goals for during the IEP process are:

– Assistive Technology Usage
– Behavioral / Emotional Modification
– Daily Living Skills
– General Curriculum and Instructional Content
– Occupational Therapy
– Physical Therapy
– Speech-Language Therapy

Not every child has needs in every area. A child who has needs in every area may, or may not, require every area be addressed. Therefore IEP goals should only be developed for areas the child will actively work on during the next year.

You should know from your child’s Eligibility determination, and the type of difficulty your child is having, which types of assistance your child will require.

When going through the IEP process to develop your child’s IEP goals, you may need to ask if specific goals need to be developed for assistive technology. You may need to ask about specific skills your child needs to learn in order to participate successfully in his school.

While “Supports and Services” and “Assistive Technology” are required to be considered in the IEP process, sometimes goals are not put into place. Goals are often necessary to insure the child learns how to use specific equipment or skills as aids in the classroom.

For More info about Assistive Technology in the IEP Process

You may want to go visit the Learning Abled Kids Assistive Technology Site to see what kinds of A/T could help your child. The main goal of Assistive technology is to give your child EQUAL ACCESS to the curriculum in areas of reading, writing, and math. That is why it is critical for A/T to be considered during the IEP process.

For example, if your child can’t YET read, then he should have audio versions of all of his school books.. ALL of them. That will provide your child equal access to the book’s content in relation to his classroom peers.

If your child has a poor working memory and can’t calculate math problems in his head, he should have a calculator. A calculator allows your child to advance in his math reasoning skills while his working memory is being improved through cognitive enhancement. During the IEP process, cognitive enhancement should be considered as a viable IEP goal too.

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Aug 032013

Do your child’s IEP Goal and Objective Statements adequately define what your child will achieve?

Children with disabilities have a variety of issues which may interfere with their learning. IEP Goal and Objective statements should be written to address *any* area which affects a child’s ability to participate in the general education curriculum. The IEP goal and objective statements should focus on improving a child’s learning and skills through specialized instruction.

IDEA §300.7(a)(1) defines a child with a disability as:

“A child .. having mental retardation, a hearing impairment including deafness, a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment including blindness, serious emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, an other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.”

IDEA §300.7(a)(2)(ii)(c) includes disability definitions for Autism, Deaf-blindness concomitant hearing and visual impairments, Deafness, Emotional disturbance, Hearing impairment, Mental retardation, Multiple disabilities means concomitant impairments, Orthopedic impairment, Other health impairment, Specific learning disability, Speech or language impairment, Traumatic brain injury, and Visual impairment.

A child may have a Specific Learning Disability if he has a severe discrepancy between achievement and ability in Oral expression, Listening comprehension, Written expression, Basic reading skill, Reading comprehension, Mathematics calculation, and/or Mathematics reasoning. §300.541(a)(2)

An IEP Goal is written to address any educationally-based need that adversely affects educational performance and which needs improvement to enable learning of the general curriculum. IEP Goal and measurable objective statements are critical for determining if a child is making progress in their program. They are the primary means for determining if a child’s needs are being appropriately met.

IEP Goal Quiz Question

An IEP goal can be written when a child needs to learn:
Physical skills.
Curriculum content.
Behavior changes.
All of the Above.

Quiz by QuizMaker

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IEP Goal & Objective statements: Defining what your child will achieve
IEP Goals for Organization Skills and Executive Function Disorder
IEP Goals for Reading
IEP Goals for Spelling
IEP Goals for Written Expression
IEP Goals for Copying

Aug 022013

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Q: My school says they won’t test my child because she is making passing grades. We think our child needs help. What are the rules for special education eligibility?


By IDEA laws (Federal), if anyone “suspects” a child has a disability and requests a comprehensive psychological evaluation in writing, the school MUST evaluate the child to determine if the child has a disability.

The referral does not have to come from the school. A parent CAN request an evaluation for learning disabilities. Special education eligibility is NOT dependent upon classroom grades or the movement from grade-to-grade.

Special Education Eligibility Evaluation Timeframes

According to IDEA, an evaluation must occur “within 60 days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation; or If the State establishes a timeframe within which the evaluation must be conducted, within that timeframe.” 

In Georgia, a child must be tested for special education eligibility within 60 days of the written permission to test. However, some states require evaluations in a shorter timeframe.  I suggest checking the special education eligibility laws through your state’s Department of Education.

Your school cannot simply say testing your child is “not a priority” or that they don’t think your child has a disability.

Our school told us because our child was making C’s they didn’t “see a need” for reading services.  I told them I didn’t care if our son was making A’s -he couldn’t read. We suspected dyslexia! Special education eligibility is based upon the presence of a disability, not upon teacher-given grades.

When our son was evaluated, he did indeed have dyslexia. He met the criteria for special education eligibility.

IDEA laws say “it is important to clarify that a child suspected of having a disability but who has not failed, is making academic progress, and is passing from grade to grade must be considered in the child find process as any other child suspected of having a disability.  As noted earlier in the discussion regarding Sec. 300.101, paragraph (c)(1) of Sec. 300.111 has been revised to clarify that children do not have to fail or be retained in a course or grade in order to be considered for special education and related services.” (See Discussion at IDEA.ED.Gov)

Familiarize yourself with legal requirements for special education eligibility. You can learn a lot about IEPs through our Free IEP training at You can also learn the legal requirements through,, and your state’s department of education special education eligibility rules.

MANY, MANY school administrators and teachers are mis-informed or uninformed regarding special education eligibility. They mistakenly think that if a child is passing, there is no need for special services. They personally hold to a ‘failure first’ philosophy, which is prohibited by IDEA. Not to mention, a “failure first” approach to special education eligibility is a form of educational neglect as I have written about.

We were able to file a successful due process case against our school system regarding special education eligibility. Take heart, if your daughter needs help.. you can probably get help, but it may not be an easy battle (and it is a battle when the school doesn’t think services are necessary and they refuse to evaluate your child). We got our own private evaluation. Unfortunately, our school STILL wouldn’t provide services because of the passing grades, so we had to file due process. The school admins were MISTAKEN in thinking classroom grades were an adequate measure of a child’s special education eligibility. Classroom grades SURELY don’t indicate the absence or presence of a learning disability.

I hope this information about special education eligibility helps. It isn’t an easy road to get services from schools that fight against parents. Just know, parents are often the first to see their child is struggling and needing help. It is always worthwhile to get help for your child as soon as possible. Hopefully you can get help before the advanced academics of middle or high school catch up with your child and cause failure.

IDEA says Failure is NOT a requirement for a child to meet special education eligibility for receiving services. The goal of IDEA is to provide proactive educational services… So, GO FOR IT! 

special education eligibility

Your child needs you to be his advocate!

You might find the book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy – The Special Education Survival Guide helpful in your pursuit of special education eligibility. The book was invaluable to me in going to battle with our school.

Best Wishes,

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