May 21, 2012

Why Students Should Attend IEP or 504 Meetings

I usually encourage my students to attend their IEP meetings or be a part of the process of implementing their IEPs (Individualized Education Plans).

I believe attending IEP meetings can be a great learning experience and that the student can contribute and help us understand how we can better serve this student. Research shows that students actively involved in making decisions about their own education achieve better outcomes than students who have little or no involvement (Wehmeyer, Agran, Hughes, 1998).

I found several personal blog posts and articles online describing what is was like for the students and their parents when they attended their own meetings. Reading the perspectives of the students and their parents confirmed me in my belief that having students attend their own IEP meetings is beneficial.

Here are some excerpts from some of them:

A Parent's Perspective--Why My Son Attended His Own IEP Meetings:

The staff asserted that Jay got 100% on a recent spelling test. This was important because we had heated controversy about whether Jay's IEP should require un-graded spelling due to his learning disability. The staff argued that Jay should be graded on his spelling in light of his remarkably high reading comprehension score on the recent standardized test — even though the score was inconsistent with Jay's history and with other recent scores.

Then, quite unexpectedly, my son spoke up. He softly explained that the 100% was actually ten words on a quiz that was a make-up — hardly a breakthrough score. This was also inconsistent with his personal educational history. More importantly, he then explained why his reading comprehension score on the standardized test was so high. Jay said that he never actually read the paragraphs that were included with the test!

Never read the paragraphs?

Well, the paragraphs were about the terracotta warriors in X'ian China. Coincidentally, we had toured these same warriors in person, five years earlier. The paragraphs were too long to bother with, Jay explained, so when he realized they were asking about the warriors he had already seen, he just answered the questions based on his prior knowledge. So, Jay spent his entire time (including his extended time) answering the multiple-choice questions. He reported they were easy questions: What were the warriors used for? (For defense) Were they alive? (No, they were in a tomb) What was special about them? (No two are alike). Jay knew most of the answers, guessed the rest, and voila — high score!

If Jay had not been at that meeting, the school would have used those two test scores to end his special education services. By speaking up, my son set the record straight and saved his own eligibility. (Read more)

Attending IEP Meetings: A Student's Perspective:

 My mother insisted that I attend my IEP team meetings. To me, attending IEP team meetings was fun because I did not have to attend class. Attending the meetings was also hard. No one took the time to explain to me what these team meetings were about. It was not my parents' fault because no one really took the time to explain to them either. It was difficult to sit there and listen to people who barely knew me talk about me like they knew everything about me. It was also disturbing to hear these people talk about my strengths and weaknesses and plan out the rest of my high school career. Not once did the “team” ask me my thoughts when I was sitting right there. Since my confidence and self-esteem was already shot down by some of my teachers and my peers and I did not know how to stick up for myself, I was not confident enough to participate in these “team” meetings. (read more)


Related post:

IEP Meetings: Tips for Teens


  1. May I suggest a change in the title to Why Students Should Attend IEP or 504 Meetings, as this will allow search engines to find it easier (more search terms)?

    Also, since we're dealing with hearing impaired students, we need to make sure that the meeting is acoustically accessible to the student, and that s/he is able to follow along in the discussion.

    Dan Schwartz,
    Editor, The Hearing Blog
    Follow The Hearing Blog on Facebook

    Send me a Friend request on Facebook for my presence for Hearing & Deafness discussions

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, Dan. Yes, very important that the meeting is accessible for the student!

  3. Thank you for this post. I teach preservice general educators about creating inclusive classrooms. One topic we cover is SPED law and IEPs. The resources you have provided will give a very valuable perspective to individuals, many who have never seen an IEP before.


Keep it civil.