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4 Questions to Ask Before Your Child’s IEP Annual Review Meeting

Special needs mom, Clinical and School Psychologist
04/05/19  4:16 PM PST
Child’s IEP

Annual review season is here, and your child’s meeting is probably already on your schedule. As a former School Psychologist on the Child Study Team (CST), I know that annual review meetings are coming, which means you need to get ready to make the most of this important Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting.

For some, this provokes a great deal of anxiety. The worry of:

  • “Will they change my child’s program?”
  • “Will they take away services?”
  • “Is my child making any gains?”
  • “Does my child have the best program?”
  • “Does my child need more or different related services?”

Before I dive in to the topic, let me review the different types of IEP meetings that you can have:

An IEP annual review is your yearly meeting when you sit down with your case manager, general education teacher, special education teacher, and related service providers in an effort to review your child’s program as it has been set for the last year, and to decide what your child’s program will look like for the upcoming year.

A re-evaluation eligibility meeting is one you will with your Case Manager, general education teacher, special education teacher and related service providers every 3 years in order for your child’s continued eligibility for special education and related services to be reviewed. That is, your child will be re-evaluated (psychological, educational assessments, as well as necessary related service therapies) so that you may review your child’s progress. During this time, you can bring forth any diagnoses that your child has that were made by private professionals (e.g., ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyspraxia, Central Auditory Processing Evaluation, etc).

Sometimes, your case manager may decide that there is enough data from your child’s teachers that shows that your child continues to be eligible and requires the program that has been established. As a result, your case manager may ask you to waive testing and re-convene in 3 years.

An initial eligibility meeting takes place after you or your child has requested a CST meeting in order to review your child’s learning needs in an effort to gain testing. The eligibility meeting occurs when all testing has been completed and eligibility is being determined.

4 Questions to Ask Before a Child’s IEP Annual Review

  • Request a meeting with your child’s teacher about 3 months prior to your IEP annual review meeting.
  • Review his/her functioning in the following areas: social, emotional, academic (be specific with the different academic skills. For example, math, reading, writing, reading comprehension, etc).
  • Write down what your teachers have shared with you in case you need to reference this information during a CST meeting.
  • Gather emails gained from your teacher since the beginning of the school year and gain an understanding of areas of strength and weakness discussed.

1-Ask your teacher for your child’s reading level (independent and instructional), as well as gain baseline and quarterly teacher-based assessment scores prior to your CST meeting. If you are unsure what this data means, sit down with your teacher and gain an understanding.

For example, ask your child’s teacher where your child was functioning in reading in September and then again in February? Where was there improvement? Regression? No progress?

2-Ask about your child’s accommodations. 

  • Are they being used regularly by your teachers?
  • If so, make a list of accommodations that you feel are very useful for your child, and enter into the meeting with the intent to delete the extraneous ones that may be hanging out from year to year, but with little benefit, while keeping the ones that work, and then adding the ones that you feel will be useful moving forward into the next year.

3-Ask for feedback from your child’s related service providers. 

  • How is your child progressing?
  • Are related services being recommended into the next year?
  • If so, with what duration and frequency?
  • What goals will be addressed and how are they different from the ones that were addressed in the year prior?
  • If goals have not been met, it may be time to re-evaluate that goal and either modify it (raise the bar, or lower it), or eliminate that goal all together.

4-Ask about your child functioning, socially and emotionally. 

  • Does your child need to join a social skills group?
  • Does your child need individual or group counseling weekly? Biweekly? On an as-need basis?
  • Gain this information from your child’s teacher, and touch base with your guidance counselor.

The Big Day: Your Child’s IEP Annual Review

When you have your IEP annual review meeting, there should be very few (if any) surprises. You should have a solid understanding of what your child has been working on and which areas need continued support. Maintain consistent communication with your child’s teachers and related service providers so that your child’s IEP remains a fluid document that truly reflects your child’s levels of functioning within the many domains throughout the school year.

You can, by law, request an IEP meeting as often as you would like. Amendments can be made as the program needs to be adjusted. It’s important not to adopt the mindset of putting your child’s IEP in place and then not reviewing it until the next annual review.

Unfortunately, very few people are monitoring your child’s program and progress like you can. You are your child’s best and biggest advocate. Check in regularly and use your IEP annual review meetings as check ins, rather than a source of distress and worry, annually.

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