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Section 8

ak dept education

special ed handbook
SECTION 8
CONTENT OF THE IEP

Appendix D includes the IEP form. Districts may develop their own IEP forms but these must address all required components listed below. If districts develop their own form, it must be submitted to the Department for review and approval.IDEA 2004 states that nothing in the law requires:
  1. that additional information be included in a child’s IEP beyond what is explicitly required in this section, and
  2. the IEP Team to include information under 1 component of a child’s IEP that is already contained under another component of such IEP.
The IEP must address all of a child's identified special education and related services needs based on need, not the disability, and include:
  1. A statement of the child's present level of academic achievement and functional performance.

    The IEP Team reviews the existing evaluation data on the child, including information and concerns shared by the parents. The team also reviews any other current pertinent data related to the child's needs and unique characteristics, such as information provided by parents; progress toward desired post-school outcomes; current classroom-based assessments; the most recent re-evaluation; input from the child's special and regular education teachers and service providers, and, as appropriate, the results of the child's performance on state and district-wide assessments. If an independent evaluation has been conducted, the results of that evaluation must also be considered if it meets the District's criteria for such evaluations. These results are summarized to describe the child's present levels of performance and educational needs.

    Statements of present level of academic achievement and functional performance in an area of need include how a child's disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum (i.e., the same curriculum as for children without disabilities). For preschool children, present levels of performance describe how the disability affects the child's participation in age-appropriate activities. The IEP for every child with a disability, even those in separate classrooms/schools must address how the child will be involved and progress in the general education curriculum. The statement should accurately describe the effect of the child's disability on the child's performance in each area of education that is affected.

    The following guidelines should be followed in developing the statement of present level of academic achievement and functional performance:

    1. Statements should be written in easy to understand language that is free of educational jargon.
    2. Information must be current.
    3. Statements should reflect the results of the assessment data. Statements that relate scores to the child's level of functioning should accompany test scores. Raw test scores are not sufficient.
    4. There should be a direct relation between the present level of academic achievement and functional performance and the other components of the IEP. Thus, if the statement describes a problem with a child's reading, this problem should be addressed under both the goals and objectives and the specific special education and related services to be provided.

      An example of a statement of a child's present level of academic achievement and functional performance is provided below (from Kukic, S., & Schrag, J. (1998). IEP Connections. Longmont, CO: Sopris West):

      "Mary solves three-place addition problems with 60% accuracy. She reads orally at 3rd grade level accuracy and comprehends approximately 50% of the material read. She interacts well with peers within small, structured groups in the classroom. She initiates cooperative play during seven out of ten opportunities. At recess, she is aggressive (i.e., she hits, pushes, pinches, and yells), cries easily, and wants to be accepted. Her aggression is displayed during one in four recesses. Following aggressive action, she cries easily if she is confronted. Mary's strength is that when classroom and playground expectations are clearly and simply explained to her, she is better able to manage her behavior."

  2. statement of secondary transition service needs and needed transition services for children.

    It is crucial for IEP Teams to begin planning for a child's post-school outcomes while the child is still in school. A statement of the transition service needs of the child under the applicable components of the IEP that focus on the child's course of study (such as participation in drivers' education courses, a vocational education program, and/or general education curriculum), must be included in the IEP by the child's 16th birthday, or earlier if determined appropriate by the IEP Team.

    A statement of transition services including courses of study needed to assist the child in reaching post secondary goals must be in the IEP. Appropriate measurable goals should be based on age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills.

    Transition planning and transition services are based on the individual child's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests, and must include:
    1. instruction;
    2. related services;
    3. community experiences;
    4. the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and, when appropriate,
    5. acquisition of daily living skills, and
    6. functional vocational evaluation.

      The transition statement must also include, when appropriate, a statement of the interagency responsibilities or linkages before the child leaves the school setting. If a participating agency, other than the educational agency, fails to provide agreed upon services contained in the IEP, the District must reconvene the IEP Team to identify alternative strategies to be implemented to meet the transition objectives outlined in the child's IEP (Secondary Transition is further discussed in Section 14 of this part).

  3. Transfer of Rights to Student.

    The IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed of his or her rights under IDEA 2004 that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority (age 18) beginning at least one year before the child reaches the age of majority (See sample Transfer of Rights letter in Appendix D).

  4. Special considerations. As appropriate, the IEP Team shall consider the following special factors and include statements addressing these needs in the child's IEP:
    1. If the child's behavior impedes his or her learning or that of others, the team shall consider, when appropriate, strategies such as positive behavioral interventions and supports to address that behavior.
    2. If the child has limited English proficiency, the IEP Team shall consider the language needs of the child.
    3. If the child is blind or visually impaired, the IEP Team shall provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless determined not appropriate for the child. This determination can only be made after an evaluation of the child's reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child's future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille.)
    4. If the child is deaf or has a hearing impairment, the IEP Team shall consider the language and communication needs of the child, opportunities for direct communication with peers and professional personnel in the child's language and communication mode, the child's academic level, and his or her full range of needs including opportunities for direct instruction in the child's language and communication mode.
    5. If the IEP Team determines that assistive technology devices (i.e., electronic communication device, phonic ear) and/or services (i.e., assistive technology evaluation, training, technical assistance) are necessary in order for the child to access and benefit from the educational program, such technology must be designated in the IEP (see Appendix H for Common Areas of Assistive Technology Application)

  5. State or district-wide achievement testing.

    The IEP must include a statement of the accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child as well as to participate in state and district-wide assessments. It is expected that all children, including children with disabilities, will participate in the statewide norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessments. The Department has developed an Alternate Assessment for children with significant cognitive disabilities who will have access to, participate in, and make progress in the general education curricula but will be assessed using alternate achievement standards. This is discussed in more detail in Section 16 of this part. IEP Teams should also refer to the Participation Guidelines for Alaska Students in State Assessments that is provided to districts by the Department. For on-line access, please visit: http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/accommodations.html

    For district-wide assessments, if the IEP Team determines that the child will not participate in the regular assessments, the IEP must state why that assessment is not appropriate for the child and include a statement of how the child will be assessed.

  6. Progress Toward Goals.

    The IEP must include a statement of how parents will be informed of their child's progress toward the annual goals and the extent to which that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the IEP time period. Parents of children with disabilities must be informed of progress at least as often as parents of children without disabilities.

    The reports need not be lengthy. The IEP forms in Appendix D have been designed to allow the goal/objective pages to be used as progress reports.

  7. Measurable annual goals including academic, functional goals and short-term objectives or benchmarks. The academic and functional goals should focus on the learning and behavioral problems resulting from the child's disability and be aligned with state and district performance standards. They should address the needs that are summarized in the statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. For those students taking alternate assessment, there should be at least one goal, with corresponding objectives or benchmarks, for each area of need.The goals and objectives or benchmarks provide a mechanism for determining whether the child is progressing in the special education program and the general education curriculum, and whether the placement and services are appropriate to meet the child's identified educational needs.

    Measurable annual goals:
    A goal is a measurable statement that describes what a child is reasonably expected to accomplish from the specialized educational program during the school year.

    When formulating goal statements, use the following guidelines:
    1. Goals should be general statements that focus on deficit skill areas.
    2. Goals should be designed to address the needs identified in the statement of the child's present level of academic achievement and functional performance.
    3. Goals should be challenging and describe what a child can reasonably be expected to accomplish during the school year.
    4. All members of the IEP Team should easily understand the language of the goals.
    5. Goals should be written to increase the child's successful participation in the general education curriculum and allow for inclusion in the general education environment to the maximum extent appropriate, or for preschool children, to participate in appropriate activities with non-disabled peers.
    6. Goals should be stated so they are meaningful. Helpful questions to ask include:
      • Is accomplishment of the goal necessary for success in current and future environments?
      • Does the family believe the accomplishment of the goal is important?
      • Does the goal specify a level of performance and expectation that is reasonable?
    7. Goals should be measurable; they must reflect behavior that can be measured.
    8. Goals should be written so they can be monitored frequently and repeatedly.
    9. Goals should be written to enhance decision-making. Monitoring the goal provides data that can be used to determine the effectiveness of the child's educational program.
    10. Goals should reflect transition needs.
    11. Goals should address Alaska's performance standards.

      Goal: By May 2008, Johnny will increase his Math computation skills from 3rd grade level to 4th grade level as measured by the teacher using a criterion referenced test.

      Short-term objectives or benchmarks: The short-term objectives or benchmarks derive from the annual goals but represent smaller, more manageable learning tasks a child must master on the way to achieving the goals. The purpose of short-term objectives and benchmarks is to enable families, children, and teachers to monitor progress during the year and, if appropriate, revise the IEP consistent with the child's instructional needs. They describe how far the child is expected to progress toward the annual goal and by when. In most cases, at least two objectives or benchmarks should be written for each annual goal. Progress on each short-term objective or benchmark should be documented.

      Short-term objectives generally break the skills described in the annual goal into discrete components. Benchmarks describe the amount of progress the child is expected to make in a specified segment of the year. Benchmarks establish expected performance levels that allow for regular checks of progress that coincide with the reporting periods for informing parents of their child's progress toward achieving the annual goals.

      Objectives and benchmarks must be measurable; they must use language that will allow a count of what a child does (i.e., The child will write, The child will read). Do not use phrases such as: "The child will understand," or "The child will appreciate").

      Short-term objectives and benchmarks should include the following three components to ensure that they can be evaluated:

      1. Objective Criteria that enable progress to be monitored and allow for determination of the point at which the objective has been accomplished, such as:
        • 95% accurate
        • fewer than 5 times per day
        • 50 correct responses in one minute
        • 4 out of 5 trials correct on three consecutive days

      2. Evaluation Procedures to be used, such as:
        • teacher observation
        • written performance
        • oral performance
        • criterion referenced tests
        • parent report
        • observation
        • time sample
        • teacher-made tests

      3. Schedules to determine how often the objective will be measured, such as:
        • one-two weeks
        • twice a week
        • once a month
        • six weeks
        • nine weeks
        • each semester
        • annually

      Some examples of possible short-term objectives are listed below. Each objective has numbers corresponding to the three components: (1) objective criteria, (2) evaluation procedure and (3) schedules.

      To read a 300 word article in the newspaper (1) in two minutes with 95% accuracy (2) as observed and recorded by the resource teacher (3) once a week.

      To create (1) fewer than 5 disruptions per day for three consecutive days (2) as observed and recorded by the teacher's paraprofessional (3) each day.

      To achieve (1) 95% accuracy (2) on a teacher made spelling test of seventh grade words as checked by the resource teacher (3) on a weekly basis.

      To compose three-paragraph themes comprised of fifteen or more sentences using a word processing program with a spell checker (1) with 80% or better accuracy in the use of spelling, punctuation and grammar over 5 consecutive trials (2) as recorded by the resource teacher (3) weekly

      Goals and short-term objectives/benchmarks must be written so they pass the following two tests:


      1. "The Stranger Test:" Is the goal/objective/benchmark written so that someone who did not write it could use it to develop appropriate instructional plans and assess child progress?
      2. "The So What Test:" Is the skill indicated in this goal/objective/ benchmark really an important skill for the child to learn?

      Note:
      The IEP Team is not required to create annual IEP goals for general education curriculum areas that the child's disability does not significantly affect. Therefore, if a
      child requires only modifications or accommodations in order to progress, no IEP goal is required but the needed modifications and/or accommodations must be listed in the IEP.

  8. A statement of program modifications and support for school personnel. The IEP must include program modifications/accommodations for the child and support that will be provided to school personnel to allow the child to:

    • Advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals;
    • Be involved and progress in the general education curriculum and participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and
    • Be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and non-disabled children.

  9. Need for extended school year (ESY).

    Consideration of the need for an extended school year (ESY) must be documented. If it is determined that a child requires ESY, it must be included in the IEP. The information used to support the determination should be referenced (ESY is further discussed in Section 13 of this part). As a reminder, ESY is not the same as summer school.

  10. A statement of the specific special education, supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable.

    The statement of services contained in the IEP must include the following information:

    1. All the specific special education and related services needed by the child in order to receive an appropriate education (e.g., itinerant program supervision, speech/language pathology services, assistive technology services, transition services, counseling services, physical therapy services).

      Note: A particular teaching methodology that is an integral part of what is "individualized" about a child's education (i.e. instruction that is the basis for the goals and objectives and other elements of an IEP) will need to be put in the IEP. The IEP Team decides whether a particular teaching methodology should be put in an IEP.

      If accommodations (supplementary aids and services) to the general education program are necessary to ensure the child’s participation in that program, those accommodations must be described in the child’s IEP.

    2. Supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable must be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child.

    3. The total amount of service required by the child per week.

      The amount of service to be provided must be stated in the IEP so that the level of the agency's commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP Team members. The amount of services may be stated as a range (e.g. 45- 60 minutes) only if the IEP Team determines that a range is necessary to meet the unique needs of the child (e.g., services needed only when a seizure occurs).A range may not be used because of personnel shortages or uncertainty with respect to the availability of staff.

      As long as there is no change in the overall amount per week, some adjustments in scheduling the services should be possible (based on the professional judgment of the service provider) without holding another IEP meeting.

    4. The frequency of on-site program review by each itinerant service provider.

      If related services are delivered by someone other than a certificated provider – an aide or teacher, for example – a certificated provider must be physically present at the school to provide guidance and supervision to the aide or teacher at least once every month unless an IEP Team determines that less frequent on-site supervision is sufficient to provide a FAPE, and must call or videoconference the aide or teacher every month in which he or she does not visit the school. This requirement establishes a floor – a minimum – for supervisory visits, but the IEP Team may require more supervision, and should make an individualized determination for the student and the service.

      Example IEP #1:
      • Speech-Language Therapy: supervisory on-site visits 15 minutes each week;
      • Occupational Therapy: supervisory on-site visits 30 minutes each month;
      • Physical Therapy: supervisory on-site visits 40 minutes every three months; telephonic consultations 15 minutes each month.

      Example IEP #2:
      • Speech-Language Therapy: supervisory on-site visits 30 minutes every three months; telephonic consultations 15 minutes each month;
      • Occupational Therapy: supervisory on-site visits 15 minutes every three months; telephonic consultations 15 minutes each month;
      • Physical Therapy: supervisory on-site visits 30 minutes every three months; telephonic consultations 15 minutes each month.

        Note:  These examples relate only to the required supervision time, and not to time of services.

    5. The amount and frequency of program supervision by certified special education staff. When a staff person who is not certified in special education provides special education or related services (i.e., a paraprofessional or regular education teacher), the IEP must clearly document the amount and frequency of program supervision by the certified special education staff. The special education teacher or related service provider is responsible for designing the program and services provided.
    6. The amount and frequency of counseling services.Counseling services provided by qualified social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel must be clearly documented in the IEP. If the counseling services are determined necessary by the IEP Team, but are provided by an agency other than the District, those services must also be listed on the IEP.

      Note: Individually prescribed devices such as glasses or hearing aids are generally considered to be personal items and are not a service to be provided by the District, and thus would not be listed as a service need on the IEP.

  11. Projected starting date and anticipated frequency, duration, and location of services.

    The projected starting date and anticipated frequency, duration, and location of services (and modifications) must be indicated for each special education and related service. The date must include the month, day, and year, and extend no more than a year from the date of the meeting. The location refers to the type of environment that is the appropriate place for the provision of the service (e.g., the regular classroom, resource room). The total time that a child with a disability spends receiving regular education, special education, and related services should equal the total amount of time the child spends in school.

  12. The extent to which the child will NOT be able to participate in regular education programs (LRE Explanation).

    The IEP must include a statement of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate in the regular classroom, general education curriculum, extracurricular, or other nonacademic activities. The same program options and non-academic services that are available to children without disabilities must be available to children with disabilities. Program options typically include: art, music, industrial arts, clubs, home economics, sports, field trips, and vocational education. Non-academic services and extra-curricular activities typically include athletics, health services, recreational activities and special interest groups or clubs.

    Note:
    If modifications (supplementary aids and services) to the regular education program are necessary to ensure the child's participation in that program, those modifications must be described in the child's IEP.

  13. Justification for placement.

    The IEP must include an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with children without disabilities in the general education curriculum and regular classroom, as well as in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities. A justification for placement must be provided on the IEP (Placement is discussed in Part V and Justification For Placement specifically in Part V, Section 5).

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