Items That Should be Included in Every IEP

1. A statement of the child’s Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP). Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance includes academic achievement and functional performance including how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general curriculum. Academic achievement refers to a child’s performance in academic areas such as language arts/reading, math, science, and history.  Functional Performance refers to skills or activities of everyday living that are not considered academic or related to a child’s academic achievement. This information usually comes from the evaluation results such as classroom tests and assignments, individual tests given to decide eligibility for services or during reevaluation, and observations made by teachers, related service providers, and other school staff. This section also include input from the child’s parents or guardians regarding their concerns, child’s needs, and child’s strengths. 2. A statement of the child’s Eligibility Category. Under IDEA The thirteen eligibility categories include, autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment (including deafness), intellectual Disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment (including blindness). 3. A statement of Annual, Measurable Goals.  These are goals that the child can reasonably accomplish in a year. The goals are broken down into short-term objectives or benchmarks. Goals may be academic, functional, address social or behavioral needs, relate to physical needs, or address other educational needs. The goals must be measurable which means that it must be possible to measure progress and whether the student has achieved the goals. 4. A statement of how Progress will be Measured. The IEP must state how the child’s progress will be measured and how parents will be informed of that progress. 5. A statement of the Special Education, Related Services, and Supplementary Aids/ Services provided to the child. The IEP must list the special education, related services, and supplementary aids/services to be provided to the child or on behalf of the child. This includes supplementary aids and services that the child needs. It also includes modifications or changes to the program or supports for school personnel. Examples of these supports includes training or professional development that will be provided to assist the child. 6. A statement of the child’s Program Modifications, Accommodations, and Supports for School Personnel. Accommodations do not reduce grade level standards but rather help provide access to the general curriculum.  Accommodations can include visual presentation, auditory presentation, multi-sensory presentation, response, setting, organization, timing and scheduling.  Modifications actually lower learning expectations and should only be used if this is the only way for the child to be successful.  Parents must understand if modifications to grade level standards are being made then the child may be at risk for not meeting graduation requirements. 7. A statement of Participation with Non-disabled Children. The IEP must explain the extent (if any) to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and other school activities. 8. A statement of any Accommodations that the child is receiving on State or District Wide Assessments. State assessment tests are given to students in certain grades and classes. The IEP must state what accommodations in the administration of these tests the child will need and receive. If a test is not appropriate for the child, the IEP must state why the test is not appropriate and how the child will be tested instead. If the IEP Team determines that the child shall take an alternate assessment, a statement of why should be included. This statement should describe why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment and which particular alternate assessment is appropriate for the child. 9. The Projected Date for the Beginning of Services, Frequency, Location, and Duration. The IEP must state when services will begin, how often they will be provided, when services will end, where they will be provided, and how long they will last. 10. A statement of Transition Service Needs/Needed Transition Services. Beginning when the child is age 14 (or younger, if appropriate), the IEP must address (within the applicable parts of the IEP) the child needs to take to reach his or her post-secondary goals. A statement of transition services needs must also be included in each of the child’s subsequent IEPs. No later than the child’s 16th birthday a transition plan must be included in the IEP outlining post- secondary goals, independent living skills goals, and transition services needed in order for the goals to be accomplished. The transition services are services needed to help the child prepare for leaving school. Transition services outlined in IDEA state that the IEP must include appropriate measurable, post-secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills.  Also, it must include the transition services including courses of study needed to assist the child in reaching those goals. The child must be an active participant in the transition process in order for his or her likes, dislikes, strengths, and needs to be considered when developing this plan. 11. A statement that the child has been informed of his or her rights when they Reach the Age of Majority.  Beginning at least one year before the child reaches the age of majority, the IEP must include a statement that the student has been told of any rights that will transfer to him or her at the age of majority. (This statement would be needed only in states that transfer rights at the age of majority.) Once the child turns 18 they have the right to sign their IEP and parent’s rights transfer to the child. At this time, the child is responsible for his or her education and can make decisions on their own unless the parent/guardian has a document signed by a judge giving you full guardianship/conservatorship. 12. A statement describing the child’s appropriate placement in the Least Restrictive Environment. Least Restrictive Environment is defined as “to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily” (Sec. 612 (a)[5]).  

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Update

Sunset legislation passed during the 84th Texas Legislative Session (January 13, 2015-June 1, 2015) requires the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to transfer its programs and functions to either the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) or Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) on September 1, 2016. Sunset is the regular assessment of the continuing need for a state agency or program to exist. While standard legislative oversight is concerned with agency compliance with legislative policies, Sunset starts with a more basic question: Do the agency’s functions continue to be needed? The Sunset process works by setting an automatic termination (Sunset) date on which an agency will be abolished unless a bill is passed to continue it. Beyond this fundamental question, Sunset has always been about more than just limiting the size of government. The process creates a unique opportunity and powerful incentive for the Legislature and stakeholders to look closely at each agency and make key improvements to how state government works. House Bill 2463 and Senate Bill 200 abolished DARS and transferred all programs and services either to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) or Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) on September 1, 2016. Senate Bill 208 transferred the following DARS programs/services to the TWC. The Vocational Rehabilitation program for individuals with visual impairments, including the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center The Vocational Rehabilitation program for individuals with other disabilities The Business Enterprises of Texas program The Independent Living Services program for older individuals who are blind (Although TWC will receive grant funding and be responsible for program oversight, the agency will enter into an Interagency Contract with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHSC) who will administer these services.) Summary of House Bill 2463 https://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/hhs-transformation/summaries/HB/2463.pdf Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services Program Transition http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/department-assistive-rehabilitative-services-program-transition

Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B. The purpose of IDEA is: To ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education employment and independent living. 34 CFR §300.1(a) The State of Texas implements IDEA Part B and Part C and ensures that special education services shall be provided to eligible students in accordance with all applicable federal law and regulations, state statutes, rules of the State Board of Education (SBOE) and commissioner of education, and the State Plan Under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 19 TAC §89.1001(a) To qualify for special education, students must have been evaluated in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004, and meet disability condition criteria in at least one of the following areas: Autism  Deaf-Blindness Deafness  Emotional Disturbance Hearing Impairment (including deafness) Intellectual Disability  Multiple Disabilities Orthopedic Impairment  Other Health Impairment  Specific Learning Disability  Speech Impairment  Traumatic Brain Injury Visual Impairment (including blindness) 34 CFR §300.8–Child with a disability, Section of CFR that explains each of the 13 disabilities.

Special Education Acronyms

  ADA Americans with Disabilities Act ADD Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder AEP Alternative Education Program AI Auditory Impairment APE Adapted Physical Education ARD Admission, Review & Dismissal AU Autism BIP Behavior Intervention Plan CBI Community Based Instruction DARS Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services DB Deaf Blind DNQ Does Not Qualify ECI Early Childhood Intervention ED Emotional Disturbance EOC End of Course (Exam) ESY Extended School Year FAPE Free & Appropriate Public Education FBA Functional Behavior Assessment FERPA Family Education Rights and Privacy Act FIE Full Individual Evaluation ID Intellectual Disability IDEA Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act IEE Independent Educational Evaluation IEP Individualized Education Plan LD Learning Disability LRE Least Restrictive Environment MD Multiple Disabilities OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder OHI Other Health Impairment OI Orthopedic Impairment O & M Orientation & Mobility OT Occupational Therapy PPCD Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities PT Physical Therapy RDSPD Regional Day School Program for the Deaf RTI Response to Intervention SI Speech Impairment SLP Speech Language Pathologist STAAR State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness STAAR A State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness – Accommodated STAAR Alt State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness – Alternate TBI Traumatic Brain Injury TEA Texas Education Agency TEKS Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills VI Visual Impairment  

2015 Changes to State Regulations for Special Education in Texas

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) modified its rule on Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings to revise the current committee meeting procedures–19 Tex. Admin. Code § 89.1050. The rule no longer requires several aspects of the ARD committee report that you may be accustomed to. Below is a list of critical changes highlighted in red. Allowing committee members to indicate agreement or disagreement is no longer required. A signatures page is no longer required. A summary of the meeting deliberations and decisions is no longer required. If the committee takes a recess because there is not mutual agreement on all required Individual Education Plan (IEP) elements then the recess may now be longer than 10 school days by mutual agreement of the committee. If there is no resolution of an ARD disagreement, now only the parents have the right to submit a statement of disagreement (under the prior rule any committee member in disagreement could have submitted a statement of disagreement). TEA deleted the rule specific to parental requests for an ARD committee meeting–19 Tex. Admin. Code § 89.1045. The rule changed how school districts must respond to the parent’s request. Under prior rule, the district either had to grant the request or ask TEA for a mediator to address the parent’s concerns. With the current change the school district either grants the request or issues a notice of refusal to convene an ARD committee meeting. The district is no longer required to seek the assistance of a TEA-appointed mediator. The TEA modified its rule on Full Individual Evaluations (FIEs) in response to S.B. 816 which was enacted by the 83rd Legislature–19 Tex. Admin. Code §89.1011. When the referral for the FIE occurs during the latter part of the spring semester and the FIE report is due by June 30th then the  ARD committee no longer has until the 15th school day of the fall semester to hold a meeting to discuss the FIE. Now the rule requires a school district to schedule and hold the ARD committee meeting “as expeditiously as possible” during the summer if the FIE report says that the student is in need of Extended School Year (ESY) services. The TEA modified its rule on high school graduation for students with Individual Education Plan (IEP)–19 Tex. Admin. Code § 89.1070. When the student takes a course with modified curriculum, the student is not eligible to be awarded an endorsement under the new Foundation Diploma system. The State Board of Education (SBOE) reviewed and modified its rule on special education instructional arrangements and settings to revise the definitions of three placement options-19 Tex. Admin. Code §§ 89.63(c)(1), (c)(7), (c)(9): Mainstream placement-allows positive behavioral interventions and supports in mainstream setting to permit a student to remain in the general education setting. Off-home campus placement-allows transition services in community-based environments. Vocational Adjustment Class (VAC) placement-allows the provision for an unpaid job and work   experience as long as not inconsistent with wage and labor laws.

School Year is Approaching!!!

From the Special Education Reports compiled by the Texas Education Agency there are over 450,000 students in the state of Texas who receive Special Education services. If you know a parent of a child with a disability who will be attending school next month please refer them to Personalized Learning Solutions so we can help them prepare for their upcoming Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meeting.