Preparation is key. As parents, we are the best advocates for our child’s education. An IEP meeting is generally non-adversarial, and while it may seem intimidating, you should go in there prepared, knowledgeable, and ready to advocate. The meeting may include you as the parent in a room with an entire education team. Your goal should be to join that team and work as a critical member to advocate for your child.
An IEP must include clear goals and objectives. Once you have a copy of your child’s IEP, make sure those goals are appropriate and adequate for your child. These goals are meant to be measurable annually, and it is important that you read and understand what the team is proposing for you child. If the goals seem unclear, not specific or detailed enough, not measurable enough, or not appropriate, you will want to work with the team to edit this portion of the IEP.
For example, if your child’s IEP goal is to simply “work on academic achievement”, you will need to use your knowledge of IEP requirements and work with the educational team to come up with more specific goals that are actually measurable at the end of the year. Specific goals should include details about the subject area, or particular skill that is being addressed, i.e.- reading skills, writing, or spelling skills. Specific goals should also describe exactly what the child is intended to master in that subject area. An example of a specific goal would be: Reading fourth grade material orally with minimum errors at a specific rate of speed.
It is important that goals are not only specific enough to actually be focused on, but also measurable over the course of the school year so you can track a child’s progress. Progress is essential to help determine your child’s future needs and future goals.
The goals section of an IEP is not only beneficial for a student/parent, but also required by the IDEA act. IDEA requires your child’s IEP to include “a statement of measurable annual goals, designed to meet the child’s needs.”
If you are going into a meeting to discuss your child’s IEP, be familiar with the relevant portions of the IDEA act, read your child’s current and past IEPs, and make sure the goals are up to par and fit your child’s specific needs. Take part of the team discussion and be a knowledgeable advocate for your child.