Education

Special Ed Forms Unite?

By Liana Loewus — February 18, 2009 1 min read

From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin

All this buzz about the possibility of creating national standards (see Stephen’s post on Weingarten) has me thinking: How would national standards affect students with special needs? Could they improve the IEP writing process for teachers?

The laws governing special education are federally mandated, as you know. Every student who qualifies for services must have an Individualized Education Program with specific required components. Yet from district to district, the IEP documents can look completely different. The length, order of components, physical layout of each page, and style of writing student objectives seem to vary indiscriminately. Some IEPs are still written by hand (yes, it is true! I wrote a few by hand myself!), while others are composed with sophisticated computer programs. When a student transfers from one district or state to another, it can be difficult for the new district to decipher the previous IEP. In some cases, the teachers hold a transfer meeting simply to rewrite the document on the new district’s IEP form, a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

Since IEP objectives are supposed to be based on state standards, doesn’t it make sense that national standards could one day lead to the institution of a national IEP form? Could this lead to more effective and streamlined IEP training for teachers (and more training for general education teachers)? Does a national IEP seem feasible? Advantageous? Why or why not? I’m interested in hearing your opinion on this, so please chime in!

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.