The Language of IEPs and 504s

The Language of IEPs and 504s: Ban “As Needed”

If “as needed” appears on any IEP or 504 plan put in front of you, request that the words be removed.

If you’re advised “that’s how we do it”, ask for documentation citing this to be true, and pull out IDEA or Section 504, and point out “as needed” doesn’t appear in either.

A child doesn’t need an IEP plan or a 504 plan as needed.

Children need everything in their IEPs or 504s period.

The Language of IEPs and 504s: Yes, You Have to Define “Accessible”

Accessible is another of those words to consider inserting every chance you get.

If something is accessible, it is often an alternative method of access.

For example, a student might need a ramp and an elevator as alternatives to the stairs used by his peers.

Another student might need Braille or large text as an alternative to the text provided to her peers.

Accommodations Don’t Have a Word Count: Clarity Trumps Word Count When Writing Accommodations

No laws or implementing regulations state accommodations must be written within a specific word count.

However, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the unique needs of students must be addressed.

In other words: Clarity and ensuring the unique needs of the child are met is more important than word count.

The Language of IEPs and 504s: Eliminate “Access” and Define “Use”

A friend shared her daughter’s IEP. It included the following accommodation:

“Access to Flash Pass”

“Access” is up there with “as needed” and “all” and “before”.

What is “access”, other than a word that is over-used and under-defined in IEPs and 504 Plans?

The Language of IEPs & 504s: Just When You Thought You Knew the Definition of “Assessment”, Wrong Again

In my world, an assessment is any kind of quiz, test, evaluation, etc., whether it is graded or not graded.

In IEP and 504 Plan worlds, assessments are interpreted as differently as a person might interpret a piece of poetry. Whereas one person might interpret Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” to be about being an individual choosing a different path, marching to a different drummer, and so on, there are others who point to this understanding as nonsense, as the incorrect interpretation.

Who knew assessments could be the same way?

The Language of IEPs and 504s: The Problem with “Engage”

I’d been playing this IEP field for so long, I should have know to press when the procedural support liaison responded to my question, “What is engage?” with, “It’s not that they’re waiting for to come to them. They’re going to engage with .”

I should’ve known exactly what would happen—just like at all those Little League games, when a grounder hit infield toward the second-baseman popped when it hit the grass. If the player didn’t know the field, it would jump right over his glove and he’d miss it. But for the home team, they knew exactly what to expect every time.

IEP and 504 fields aren’t much different. You attend enough of them and you start predicting the outcome before it happens, just like the ball popping up at the Little League field.

Language of IEPs and 504s-All and Before

The Language of IEPs and 504s: The Importance of “All” and “Before”

Today we’re covering the use of “all” and “before” in IEPs and 504s, and how “all” doesn’t always mean “all”, and how “before” needs its own timeline.

Go into your IEP or 504 meetings ready to collaborate, but understand that clear language, with as much as possible defined in advance, helps everyone. Your child’s teachers don’t attend every IEP meeting. They don’t know what was discussed, which leaves the IEP or 504 language up to interpretation.

Keep it simple and clear—and ensure there’s no room for misinterpretation.

Return to School Virtual IEP Guidance Document

Whether you live in Fairfax County, Virginia, or in a different county or state, view this video.

It’s an opportunity to 1) learn what another school division is doing; 2) identify behind-the-scenes practices that are a) problematic and/or b) not occurring according to the training; and 3) to compare against your own division’s practices to a) bring ideas to them and/or b) ask about problem areas behind-the-scenes in your school division.

This presentation was developed by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS).

There are a few stand-out comments to consider—and to contact FCPS (or your school division) about if these items weren’t discussed with you.

Here’s one for now, and then the video and transcript follow:

“The first thing the case manager needs to do is to review the IEP and determine whether or not the goals, accommodations, and services can be delivered in a virtual format.”

If yes, did the case manager actually take an action outside of “review” and “determine”?

What’s on the IEP PLOP Page—and What Should Actually Be on the IEP PLOP Page?

20 USC Sec. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i) states:

“The term “individualized education program” or “IEP” means a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with this section and that includes—
(I) a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including . . .”

It doesn’t state that it should include present levels from a year ago or two years ago. It states present levels—as in, where is the student NOW.

And yet . . . There are IEPs that don’t have baseline data at the start of each year to measure progress. They are void of PRESENT levels.

If you happen to have a child in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), there is an IEP page that is actually titled, “Information Related to Present Level of Educational Performance”.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has called out FCPS on its use of the page.