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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation


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One common thread in special education is the IEP. Are you happy with the ones you get for the students in your classes? How can IEPs be improved? How often do you refer to the IEP in a school year? How do you prepare your IEPs. In New York City almost all are still written by hand.

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Deven Black's picture
Deven Black
Middle school teacher-librarian in the Bronx, NY

[quote]Another Sunday, another IEP to write. There's something very wrong about the workload. Anyway, I wanted to comment about one of the posts a few days ago from the teacher who left general ed. after 10 years to teach special ed. My question is: WHY? Didn't anybody warn you. I know many teachers who have dual endorsements in regular and special ed. They can't get out of special ed. The only way they can is to apply somewhere else and leave the special ed. license information off their resume. If I had the option, I know what I'd do.[/quote]

It is possible to leave the special ed classroom for general ed. It is happening to me. After five years as a special ed teacher I am teaching two general ed and three special ed classes this year and have been told I'll only be teaching general ed next year.

In all honesty, I'd rather be a 6th grade special ed classroom teacher, even with the IEPs and other paperwork. That way I'd be teaching 12 students instead of the nearly 100 I have this year and the 140-160 I'll have next year.

Kimberly King Carpenter's picture
Kimberly King Carpenter
High School Special Education Teacher

We use a state program in KY. I have to say that most of us in the school I teach in do not like the program. (I.C.) We use state program of studies standards. Which makes it hard for studnets who are transient to take their IEP to a new school (especially out of state).

Then there is the issue of receiveing in an IEP from another state which is a whole other issue in and of itself (being 15 minutes from Cincinnati, OH we inevitablly see kids going back and forth). Not a fun time.

Does anyone have any ideas of how the whole thing can be streamlined?

R Rose's picture

We use IEP Direct, a web based program. It is nice because we can work on them at home or in school. There are drop down comments, but most of us still type our own comments. I get very frustrated with those teachers who use the drop downs, they don't tell me a thing about the kids. We do have goals and objectives to choose from, and we can type in customized goals and objectives. It generally takes me about 45 minutes to write an IEP now. That is much better than the hours I spent hand writing them!

LPS's picture
Cross Categorical/self-contained - Teacher

[quote][quote]Our district uses TieNet, and they are continuing to improve it with prompts and a model for writing IEP's. We are able to access the state standards although the alternate standards are not included on this link. I have to open a separate document to find the atlternate standards. It sounds similar to the Texas system. I still spend about 3 hours for each student in writing IEP's and progress monitoring takes about 2 hours for each student. Also we have to do additional report cards that are based on grade level standards. I do most of it at home on my own time.[/quote]When you say you spend 3 hours writing IEPS and 2 hours progress monitoring, is that yearly,monthly?

3 hours doing each annual IEP and 1 1/2 to 2 Hours every quarter for each student doing progress monitoring. I also update behavior plans each quarter. I usually only have a couple of students who qualify for extended school year so that is not usually as time consuming.

Suezzie's picture
Elementary School Special Ed Teacher in NYC

As a Spec. Ed Teacher, I commend u 4 being ur child's advocate. I am always encouraging our parents to speak up on behalf of their children. It is vital to a child's success that home and school are working together.

LPS's picture
Cross Categorical/self-contained - Teacher

One common thread in special education is the IEP.

Are you happy with the ones you get for the students in your classes? I find that many of the IEP's I get are typically pretty vague and are basically the standards cut and pasted with some individualized part that may or may not be measureable.

How can IEPs be improved? Given a (condition), student will (behavior), acheive mastery (% and/or x/x opportunities) using (assessment tools).

How often do you refer to the IEP in a school year? Humm 1) I try to look at it before kids show up. But often I don't have access until a few days after the kids show up. Aug. 2) September , I check for re-evals that are due, and when IEP's are due 3) before parent Conferences, Sept/Oct 4) when I develop my educational Matrix for activities and lesson plans (once I know what levels the kids are actually at) About 6 weeks after they start. 5) Quarterly grading periods 6) IEP Date, 7) End of the year for Cumulative files and students moving to 3rd grade or to a different program. I look at them at least 7 times during the year.

How do you prepare your IEPs. Computer based program that has links to Standards and allows me to individualize. Most of the time I do them at home on my weekends. The advantage of computers I suppose vs staying late at work to do them. (Which is what I use to do when they were handwritten.) I actually think I use more paper than I used to with handwritten ones. So much for saving a tree or $$$ for the paper.

mike gropper's picture

We have a web based system called Encore in Denver which works much better then the hand written ones done back in the day. It is simple to do and has a format that is easier to follow. Also we are doing annual goals and not short term objectives which makes it easier to do. However, I like the idea of short term objectives leading up to aan annual goal. However The concern is the district policy on having the IEP complete and locked at the end of the meeting. I understand the reason behind this by it can be very difficult to do since happens and situations occur especially when you have to work with others on the IEP team or have students to take care of.

Sheila B's picture

My husband and I share this opinion. Our son is in the Clark County School District, Las Vegas, NV. He has had an IEP since pre-k. He is currently in the 3rd grade and is now enrolled in his 7th school in his short school career.This in itself is a sad statement on how this district handles its special needs children. He is in a self contained SEC class and every year the district changes the school where the program exists. This kind of administration is very frustrating to not only us, but many other parents in this district. We will be attending his 3rd IEP meeting this school year. This meeting has arisen due to our sons ASD(Autism Spectrum Disorder)behavior. We sympathize with the teachers on their need to promote a safe enviroment in the classroom. Considering the wide range in each childs behaviors, there can be no uniformity in the process. The teachers fix is to send him to another school that deals only with severe behavioral needs. Through research we find that enviroment has a lot to do with ASD behavior.His behaviors at home can be trying, but his behavior at school is a lot worse. The IEP contains guidelines and goals for his behavior, but due to circumstances, the goals in this area of his IEP seem to be unattainable. His IEP is 21 pages long. I am taking two advocates to this meeting to help me voice my concerns about how differently he acts at home compared to school. One of the attendees will be a PSR (psychosocial rehabilitation) worker currently working with our family in our home, The staff at our sons school told me, before we scheduled this meeting, that they were checking into a special school for him to attend. The problem with this is they will not release any information regarding this "special school". Once it has been decided that he will attend this school, I will receive this information. The schools denial, to provide us with this information, is unacceptable and goes against the whole IEP process. The fact that the IEP process is democratic in nature and based on a aye or nay process furthers our belief that certain children will be "left behind".With this kind of method in place the parents views are subject to denial. My husband and I are so fed up with the system that we are considering home school. This would prove to be very difficult, as we have no formal training on how to educate a special needs child. We are equiped to handle the problem behaviors but not institute an education plan. Paperwork and dropdown menus might be issuesfor teachers, but not for the students. Until an agreement on what is best for each INDIVIDUAL child is reached, the IEP process will be a waste of time, money and patience.

TX SpEd Teacher's picture
TX SpEd Teacher
6-8 grade resource and co-teach math

I am in Texas and we use Special Educaion Manager. All of the state curriculum (TEKS) are in the goals and objectives. However, nothing in them is very individualized as I am expected to cover full grade level math curriculum with ALL of my students since that is what the state assessments for them will cover. Yes, we have a modified version of the grade level assessment, however, the concepts tested are true grade level concepts. Of course, I am ALSO expected to close all of the gaps in their skills during that same 45 min a day that I also have to teach them grade level curriculum since the goal is to move them to a regular education inclusive setting. I have yet to have anyone give me a good explanation of how that is supposed to happen.....

DJ Duke's picture

I look at my IEP's at least each nine week period--more, if the student is constantly in trouble or failing. In Alabama, our IEP's are entered into a common state-based site. The State Department, as well as the LEA can monitor them at any time. I rarely get an IEP like I prefer. I like to be able to look at the profile page and get an immediate feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the student; what has been tried and where I need to be going.

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