Are IEP’s Different at Different Schools?

You might think that IEP’s (Individual Educational Plan) are standardized and would easily transfer from school to school, but each school can be a little different and the plans for one school may not work in another. The IEP is written by a case manager or member of the CST (Child Study Team) with input from teachers and parents. If those that are writing the new annual plan (in the same school district) really don’t understand how the new school works, they write the plan based on how their school works.

When the student moves up from the elementary school to the middle school, students sometimes have difficulties because the expectations are different and the culture is different. Middle school has more freedoms and students have more teachers. The ability to share information by walking across the hall to talk to another teacher that has that student is no longer an option. In middle school and high school, there is a good possibility that the student’s teachers have no opportunity to discuss that student. The focus seems to be on curriculum and test scores and the goal seems to be how to prepare students for college. The focus can also vary from school to school.

There is also the element of independence. Middle school teachers want students to be more independent than elementary school teachers and the level of independence goes up again in high school. Middle and high school teachers teach a subject or subjects to different groups of students and may see more than a hundred students a day. If your child has an IEP, and is scheduled to be in a classroom with a regular education curriculum with the focus on preparing students for college, what should be included in that IEP? It depends on the focus of the school’s CST, the teacher’s approach, the culture of the school and its administration and how well a parent advocates for their child.

If the parent believes their child needs to go to college, then it becomes a process of developing accommodations to help make the child competitive. My question is about careers and the abilities of the student to be competitive when they apply for a job. Have the accommodations helped them become competitive in the actual job market or have the accommodations allowed them to get good grades while they are in school? A lot of parents want to create accommodations that will reduce what needs to be completed, add additional time to complete assignments and allow the student to make test corrections or have a different test to ensure that they will get a good grade. Is doing less a good plan to make someone more able?

Below the regular education inclusion classes that have students with IEP’s and accommodations, are more restrictive programs. Although the classes might have different titles, they are smaller groups of students with an adjusted pace and curriculum to provide more opportunities to individualize the instruction. The goal to have students learn to do more as a result of the ability to provide more individualized instruction. My goal is to look at how we help individuals at all levels become more able. With students that have an IEP, I believe that we need to motivate toward doing as much as they can, rather than creating accommodations to allow them to do less. I also believe that we help our children and student best when we talk about their interests and help them develop plans to pursue their goals.



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I have a BA in Psychology and a teaching certificate as a Special Education teacher. I have a MA in Student Personnel Services and I recently retired from my position as a Guidance Counselor. I have been active on advisory boards concerning disability issues for over 25 years. I also have over 25 years of business experience in Human Resources and Operations Management.

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