IEP Analysis

Carl Plucker
EdLd 673 Leadership of Special Programs
Dr. Candace F. Raskin
Minnesota State University-Mankato
October 2009

In the classroom, directions may need to be repeated or broken down into
smaller steps for XXXXX. XXXXX may need extended time on
assignments. He will need assistance with filling out his daily planner.
Larger assignments and projects would be broken down into smaller
steps. He may word process written assignments. Tests and quizzes may
need to be modified and read aloud for XXXXX.
The above statement comes from the adaptations page in an Individualized Educational Plan
developed for a student at XXXXX XXXX Middle School in XXXXX, Minnesota. The plan is
the culmination of a series of events that were put in motion when a student was first recognized
as potentially needing specialized services in order to be academically successful. At first glance
the adaptations seem simple enough, yet the process to get to that point is far from simple. The
author will summarizes the process, as mandated by state and federal law, which the district and
school must follow when preparing an IEP. Additionally, the author will give a personal
assessment of an IEP that was under review. In doing so the author will use the criteria outlining
the minimum content for an IEP as found in What every principal needs to know about special
education,( McLaughin, 2009). Finally, the author will make an attempt to determine if the IEP
process followed state and federal laws, will in his opinion meet the needs of the student and
make a few suggested improvements if any are appropriate.
Parents and teachers have the responsibility to refer students for Special Education (to be
referred to as SpEd throughout) services when a child’s academic performance does not seem to
match up with ability. In District XXX, the referred student is analyzed initially by the school’s
Student Assistance Team (SAT). The SAT team, with input from the general education staff,
sets up a time period with specific interventions. At the end of the observation/intervention
period a decision is made to further test the student to see if they qualify for specialized services.
At this point the student spends time with a licensed SpEd teacher and undergoes a battery of
tests to determine if there is a gap between cognitive ability and academic performance (Burns,
Gibbons, 2008). If such a gap exists, SpEd teachers and general ed. teachers collaborate on what
services are needed and what type of environment is best suited to meet those needs.
Special Education regulations are coded in United States federal law as H.R.1350, “Individuals
with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004”. Key to this law is that children are
placed in the least restrictive environment, receiving specialized instruction at no cost to the
parents or guardians (Burns, Gibbons, 2008). Additionally, regulations mandate that parents or
guardians are informed in every aspect throughout the creation and implementation of the plan
(XXXXXX, Paula in a personal interview 2009).
Like the process, the IEP itself, is highly regulated. The initial part is a notification to parent or
guardians informing them what is happening, is it an initial assessment or is it an annual review.
Part of this notification is a list of resources that are available to them regarding their rights and
procedural safeguards. A time period, fourteen days, is also identified as a reasonable time to
object if parents have concerns. If parents do not object the school district will move ahead with
the plan and provide the additional services. In the IEP that the author reviewed, both parents
indicated that they were aware of their rights and agreed to the planning process.

Part two of the IEP was a listing of contact information and a listing of the participants in the IEP
planning meeting.
Part three of the plan was an assessment of the student’s current situation, an identification of
their specific needs and a description of the academic goals and objectives that are designed to
meet the students’ academic needs. The student involved in this review had significant speech
and language needs as well as written language needs. Five goals and 21 objectives were
designed to help the student be successful.
Each student and each students’ needs are different requiring a unique set of goals and objectives
In interviewing Ms XXXXX XXXXXXX and Ms XXXX XXXXXX, it was discussed that most
IEP’s have two to three goals, each goal having two to three measurable objectives outlining the
steps that will be taken to meet the goal. Recent educational reforms have stressed the need for
data collection as evidence that educational goals are being met. XXXXXX and XXXXXX both
stated that in writing student IEP goals, extreme attention is given to insure that the goals are
measurable and that a data collection system is in place. Currently at XXXXX XXXX XXXXX
School, data folders are assembled by case managers for every student on an IEP. Data includes
DRA scores and fluency charts for reading and fluency charts regarding writing as well as
unique date this is needed to growth for other specific objectives. The IEP under review has five
goals and 21 measurable objectives. This seems a bit extreme and a potential source of
As the IEP continues to develop, part four provides an articulation of the adaptations that will
exist in the general and special education classroom. These specific adaptations were included in
the introduction for your review and will not be rewritten here. This section of the IEP also
indicates if the student will participate in District and State-Wide assessments. If the student is
not going to participate, evidence must be provided explaining this decision and a plan for an
alternate assessment must be provided. In this review the student will participate in these
traditional assessments. Additionally in this section the number of minutes the student will
receive services and an explanation of Least Restrictive Environment is provided. By law, a
student must be placed in the least restrictive environment. The LRE is usually the general
education classroom. If it is determined that the student will not be successful in that
environment the level of services are amplified from pull out classes all the way up to center
based classrooms away from the students neighborhood school. For the student in this review it
was determined that they attend a co-taught science class and were pulled out of the general
education classroom to be a part of small group math and reading class as well as a small group
speech articulation class.
In analyzing this IEP is the author was confident that laws, both state and federal, were satisfied.
However some concern did arise over the measurability of the goals and objectives. Objectives
were very broadly written with truly indefinable or subjective verbs used. An example of this is
as follows. XXXXXX will express his thoughts both verbally and in writing in a concise manner
at least 80% of the time with moderate to minimal adult support as measured by the
speech/language clinician. The author’s concern is with the usage of words like concise,
moderate and minimal. How can they be accurately measured and reported in a consistent
way?. Additionally, the author was concerned about the lack of articulation regarding direct

instruction prior to meeting the goal. Some of the objectives stated “With instruction,
XXXXXX will solve problems with 80% accuracy in 2 of 3 trials. However, many of the goal’s
objectives just stated what the end result will be, what the student should achieve. It is the
author’s assumption that quality instruction is part of the class in question, however special
education students, by law, require direct instruction that is different from the main stream if
needed. Will this happen if not specified in the IEP?
Upon analysis the author is convinced that the student will receive specialized services related to
their needs. However, I am not convinced that the goals and objectives will be met. The
author’s greatest concern is that there are too many and not enough time will be spent to ensure
proper growth in all areas. Is an IEP with too many objectives an effective plan if there are not
enough minutes in the day; or properly licensed teachers, in the case of reading intervention, too
properly implement?
Upon review of this IEP, if asked, I would offer the following suggestions. First, and this would
go for all IEP meetings and evaluations, I would want to ensure that the single biggest deficiency
isn’t a reading deficiency. If the student did have a reading deficiency I would recommend that
the student receive intense reading interventions as the first and main goal, taught by a
liesenened reading teacher. Specifically regarding this IEP, I would suggest prioritizing the five
goals and objectives and focus on the top priority and not try to accomplish all during this review
cycle. I have no confidence that real growth will occur in each of the five growth goals as
measured through 21 objectives requiring the level of service that was indicated in part 2 of this
Furthermore, I think the language regarding measurement should be more concrete. Possibly a
special education rubric could be created for measurement that doesn’t produce concrete
mathematical data. Finally, I would propose that an outside presence be part of the measurement
process. Perhaps other special education teachers from the same school trained in similar
disabilities could observe and provide feedback.
Not specifically related to this IEP review I would like to state my opinion regarding RTI. RTI,
when made a part of all education licensure programs will make all teachers better, reduce the
amount of special education cases and provide the level of instruction at all grade levels that our
students deserve. This shift in thinking and procedures will require moving a proverbial
mountain; well, there are a lot of us and they are making some very good shovels nowadays.
Let’s get to work!