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The IEP Checklist quiz

How can you ensure your IEPs are effective and compliant?

The IEP Checklist: Your Guide to Creating Meaningful and Compliant IEPsSometimes the end goal of an individualized education program gets muddied in the process of developing the IEP. What does it take to make sure the IEP results in genuine progress for the student with disabilities? And how can you be sure you are complying with all legal requirements?

Test your knowledge with this quiz, adapted from The IEP Checklist: Your Guide to Creating Meaningful and Compliant IEPs by Kathleen G. Winterman, Ed.D., and Clarissa E. Rosas, Ph.D.

See how well you do, and pick up pointers about best practices during the IEP development process.

The IEP Checklist quiz

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Question 1

Which of the following is NOT a key focus of the IEP development process?

A. Creating a shared vision for the learner's future through collaborative partnerships
B. Thoroughly documenting deficiencies
C. Exploring the student's personal abilities and leadership capacities
D. Ensuring families have meaningful input and the student has an active role in the process
E. Generating measurable action plans to support and document learner progress
Question 1 Explanation: 

B. Thoroughly documenting deficiencies is NOT a critical component of the IEP development process.

Historically that may have been the focus, but since the reauthorization of Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004 and subsequent revisions, the process has had a more results-oriented focus, prioritizing student success over documentation of deficiencies.

Question 2

What percentage of students with disabilities spend 80% or more of their instructional day in general education classrooms?

Question 2 Explanation: 

While inclusion is gradually becoming a widespread reality in the classroom, 63% of students with disabilities spend 80% or more of their instructional day in general education classrooms.

Prior to 1975, most children with disabilities were not afforded the rights they now receive, and were often disregarded by the educational system. While some learners with mild disabilities did attend school, the support they received to access the curriculum was minimal to nonexistent.

The rules changed with 1975 with the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. The federal law afforded learners with disabilities the opportunity to attend public schools, based on the belief that children with disabilities had the same right to an education as children without disabilities. However, the programs that were created were often housed in separate buildings or segregated classrooms.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the reauthorization of IDEA 2004 has increased inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education classroom, but 37% still spend less than 80% of their instructional day in general education classrooms.

Question 3

What factors keep the IEP from being a resource that guides team members in how best to work with students with disabilities?

A. General educators do not feel prepared with adequate skills, knowledge, or training to accommodate students with disabilities
B. The IEP often seems to many members of the IEP team—educators, therapists, administrators, and others—like a document that is difficult to decipher
C. An IEP is often perceived as just one more thing a teacher has to do or as a parent's chore
D. All of the above
E. None of the above
Question 3 Explanation: 

D. All of the factors come into play in keeping the IEP from being a resource that helps team members work best with the student for optimal outcomes.

With a thorough understanding of the spirit of the laws dictating education of students with disabilities, as well as guidance on tools that will help educators apply best practices, team members get a stronger sense of ownership of IEP writing.

The content of The IEP Checklist walks team members through each step of the process, to help them develop better and legally compliant IEPs.

Question 4

What legally mandated element of the IEP planning process often gets minimized because of time constraints?

A. Public special education services for children in private school
B. Collaboration with parents
C. Access to a free, appropriate public education
D. Instruction in the least restrictive environment
E. Disciplinary action for behavior not a result of a disability
Question 4 Explanation: 

B. Getting active input and perspective from parents often gets minimized in the rush to complete the IEP process.

A core principle of IDEA 2004 is the belief that parents are collaborative team members in the development of their child's IEP. IDEA was created for schools and parents to share responsibility in the process, ensuring that the child's needs are met. IDEA is based on the working relationship between the child's home and school, which fosters an educational team with the goal of providing the child with the agreed-upon services.

IDEA empowers parents and school personnel to work together to develop a shared vision of what the child's educational reality might be. Often, this is not the reality. Unfortunately, due to the need to complete the IEP process, school personnel often choose expediency instead of true shared visioning for a student.

With each reauthorization, IDEA has continued to strengthen parents' role within the team meeting.

Question 5

Which of the following is NOT mandated under IDEA 2004?

A. The student's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance
B. Measurable annual goals
C. Benchmarks and short-term objectives for students who take alternate assessments
D. Supports necessary to provide the least restrictive environment
E. An extended school year
Question 5 Explanation: 

E. An extended school year is not guaranteed by IDEA 2004.

Whether a child with a disability is entitled to instruction beyond the school year is determined by the IEP. Depending on the IEP, an extended school year may be required for some students under certain circumstances.

Factors that certain litigation has determined should be considered when determining extended school year services, include

  • regression and recoupment (Is the child likely to lose critical skills or fail to recover those skills within a reasonable time?)
  • degree of progress toward IEP goals and objectives
  • emerging skills/breakthrough opportunities (will a lengthy summer break cause significant problems for a child who is learning a key skill, such as reading?)
  • interfering behavior (does the child's behavior interfere with his or her ability to benefit from special education?)
  • Nature and/or severity of the disability
  • Special circumstances that interfere with child's aiblity to benefit from special education
Question 6

What is PLAAFP?

A: Portfolio of Living Activities Assessed From Play
B: Parental Learning and Advocacy Foundational Program
C. Planning Lifelong Adaptive Accommodations for Functional Progress
D. Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance
E. None of the above
Question 6 Explanation: 
PLAAFP is the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance section on the IEP.

It serves as the foundation on which future instructional plans and educational services for each student are built. The unique needs of the child that will be addressed by special education and related services are presented at the beginning of this section.

Addressing this section of the IEP as a preliminary step to completing any other sections establishes a baseline of measurable information that will serve as the starting point for first developing goals and objectives/benchmarks and other important and legally required components of the IEP.

Question 7

What historically is the most challenging aspect for IEP teams?

A: Writing goals that are both measurable and meaningful
B. Finding time to meet
C. Agreeing on roles and responsibilities
D. Getting parental cooperation
E. Enlisting administrative support
Question 7 Explanation: 

A. Writing goals that are both measurable and meaningful

At the heart of the IEP are the student's goals. Goals are statements that describe the achievements that a child will strive to accomplish as a results of specific interventions. They are derived from the PLAAFP section of the IEP. In essence, the goals determine the interventions for the student, which may include specialized services, adaptations and/or modifications.

Writing standards-based goals requires that the IEP team consider the student's strengths and needs, the content standards that all students must achieve in their district, and the gap between the student's levels of functioning and where he or she should be performing.

The following can serve as a guide in constructing measurable and meaningful goals:

  • Who is the audience? Who is to perform the desired behavior? (the student)
  • What is the observable act or behavior to be performed (to write, to construct, to name)
  • What is the relevant stimulus condition under which the student is expected to demonstrate the behavior? (when given a story prompt to write, when presented with 5th-grade-level text)
  • What is the degree, criteria, or standard required for the student to demonstrate achievement of the desired behavior?
  • What is the expected date the goal will be met? (Remember: goals are written annually)
Question 8

Does IDEA 2004 require that IEP teams develop both goals and short-term objectives for all students who have an IEP?

A. Yes.
B. No.
Question 8 Explanation: 

No. IDEA 2004 requires short-term objectives only when a child will participate in an alternative assessment when a statewide assessment is deemed inappropriate for a particular child.

Most states, however, have continued the practice of including both goals and short-term objectives.

Short-term objectives should be written as interim steps that a child will take to reach his or her goals. These objectives serve as benchmarks to determine if the child is making sufficient progres toward meeting his or her annual goals and, therefore, are closely monitored by the child's teachers.

Question 9

Are accommodations and modifications the same thing?

A: Yes.
B. No.
Question 9 Explanation: 

No, accommodations and modifications are not the same thing.

Many people truly do not have a good understanding of the differences between an accommodation and a modification. Therefore these terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably.

With accommodations there are no changes to the learning content. An accommodation simply allows a student with disabilities to meet the same standard of learning as his or her peers but through a different avenue, such as providing an oral response instead of a written response. Other widely used accommodations include

  • providing extra time
  • allowing preferential seating
  • providing a copy of the class notes

A modification, however, requires an actual change in the content of what the student is learning and is used when accommodations alone are not sufficient to support the student. An example would be when a second-grade class is working on beginning multiplication while a child with special needs is still learning addition. In this situation, the curriculum has been modified, meaning the content has been changed to meet the learner's needs.

Question 10

Which elements must IEPs address in transition planning for students leaving high school?

A. Instruction
B. Related services
C. Community experiences
D. Employment and adult living experiences
E. Acquisition of daily living and functional vocational evaluation
F. All of the above
Question 10 Explanation: 

F. All of the above.

IDEA 2004 requires transition services for students with disabilities starting at age 16. Transition planning can begin earlier if the IEP team agrees, and some states strongly recommend it begin sooner.

In initiating the transition process, it is helpful to use a framework that focuses on the student. A framework structures the steps that must be addressed as an educational team looks a the needs, interests, preferences, and strengths of a student.

Different frameworks are available, such as Making Action Plans (MAPS), Planning Alternative Tomorrows of Hope (PATH), and Person-Centered Planning (PCP). Each tool has a particular format and questions that are used to guide the student, parents, professionals, community agencies, and employees in establishing a plan that will meet the student's needs.

Some IEP teams incorporate the use of a specific curriculum such as the Council for Exceptional Children's Life Centered Career Education. The LCCE introduces and reinforces development of skills in

  • preparing for higher education
  • self-advocacy
  • navigating a new community
  • building new relationships
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