Student leadership and advocacy are priorities in many school districts. But how many middle school special education students have the opportunity to participate in their own IEP meetings, and articulate their needs and strengths with parents and teachers?
At Readington Middle School, special education teachers work with students to identify their strengths and areas of need, interests and preferences. Students draft their own introductory paragraphs about themselves, which become part of the IEP document as a statement of transition planning. Teachers also share the portion of the IEP that is related to modifications with each student, and discuss what the modifications mean.
Case managers meet with students in advance to educate them about the IEP meeting process, and collaborate with parents to determine the scope of each student’s participation. The district’s goal is that 100 percent of 7th and 8th graders with disabilities will participate in their annual IEP meetings – and that goal has been met. In the words of the Supervisor of Pupil Services, who observed a middle school case manager during an IEP meeting: “Your ability to connect with your colleagues, students, and their parents, and to make the IEP process a productive conversation rather than an effort in compliance, is simply outstanding.”
For students, an important aim of special education should be empowerment and a need for fewer, but more beneficial, services, as they progress through school. By teaching students about their very personal education plans, this program enables Readington students to be more informed about the services offered to them, and empowered to identify and evaluate those that benefit them most.
Contact: Karen Tucker, supervisor of pupil services, firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitted by school district