Student Involvement in the IEP
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal document developed by the student, teachers, administrators, parents and other team members. The IEP helps students with disabilities to reach their goals. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, the IEP must focus on the student’s preferences, interests, needs and strengths. All students, regardless of age or disability, can be involved in the development of their own IEP.
All students need to be a part of their IEP meetings after being provided with direct instruction, accommodations, and opportunities to practice or role play their participation. Some important tips to remember when including young students in their IEP meetings include:
- Consider the age when determining the length of time the student will participate;
- Ask all team members to use language that the student will understand;
- Acknowledge the student for their participation
- Visit the Films section and view “Student Participation in the IEP” and “It’s All About You; Get To Know Your IEP”.
Students who participate in their own IEP meetings often know more about their disability, rights, goals and accommodations. Through this participation, they have the opportunity to practice many skills that will help facilitate their independence, their ability to overcome obstacles, and their ability to lead more self-determined lives.
Student-led conferences take the concept of student-led IEPs and apply it to the general education setting. Students lead the traditional parent-teacher conference which then becomes a time to celebrate the student and the work they’ve accomplished. Academic or behavioral issues are addressed with all the key players at the table. Family participation has increased greatly using this student-centered approach.
When students learn and practice self-determination skills, they become more involved in advocating for their needs, speaking up for others, and taking on leadership roles. Several clips (below) feature I’m Determined Youth Leaders discussing their involvement in their schools and communities.