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Information for Teachers  

Getting General Educators and Guidance Counselors
Involved in Secondary IEP's

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by Lisa Holland

Although the laws governing special education and the development of Individualized Education Plans support collaborate/team approaches, often special educators are writing IEP's with little input from others. The collaborative approach to writing IEP's should involve gathering information from a variety of sources thus allowing all interested parties to have a voice in the development of the student's program, not just having people in attendance at meetings. Unfortunately at the secondary level, we often have regular education teachers and guidance counselors who are silent in IEP meetings because they aren't aware of information that they should be sharing.

Within inclusive and integrated schools, students often have seven or more teachers each year. Teachers possess a wealth of information concerning a student's achievement that is not always contained in standardized test information. This knowledge is crucial in formulating an accurate present level of performance that reflects the student's progress in relationship to the general curriculum, in writing appropriate long and short-term goals for students, and in planning for transitional services. Input from each is important in the development of a comprehensive IEP.

General Educators

Suggestions on information that regular education teachers should be providing to IEP teams include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. The student's performance in the class. Academic strengths and challenges that have been observed by the teacher.
  2. Accommodations that have been utilized by the student within the class.
  3. Student behaviors. Include desirable behaviors and methods that have been used to encourage/support these behaviors as well as behavioral challenges that have been presented and methods that have been used as interventions.
  4. Communication concerns for the student.
  5. Assistive technology utilized within the class.
  6. Information concerning the student's socialization and participation with non-disabled peers in relationship to the following: other students in the class, in groups within the class, in the school community, and in extra-curricular activities. Suggestions for increasing and/or improving participation need to be part of the IEP discussion.
  7. Goals the teacher has identified for consideration as part of the IEP.
  8. Non-academic concerns.

Guidance Counselors

Guidance counselors are often the most knowledgeable staff member within a school concerning course offerings and requirements, as well as post secondary educational and employment opportunities. In addition, they can provide information concerning students' behavioral needs and services available within the school and community to help meet those needs.

Suggestions on information guidance counselors should be sharing in IEP meetings include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Four-year plan of course work developed with the student, the student's family and the special education staff. Discussions within the IEP meeting should include progress toward this four-year plan and course options.
  2. District-wide and Standards of Learning test scores.
  3. Course descriptions.
  4. Post-secondary educational/training/employment opportunities and requirements.
  5. PSAT and SAT testing date, applications, accommodations and/or tests results.
  6. Diploma options and requirements.
  7. Information concerning community resources for students and their families.
  8. Information concerning school- wide tutorial/remedial services available within the school setting.

Reprinted from the Newsletter of the Training and Technical Assistance Centers at Virginia Tech and Radford University Spring 2002 Vol. 10, No. 3