Beginning the IEP Process: Part 1

This week, Barbara Helms, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is sharing some great information about the IEP process!  With so much to share, we couldn't fit it all in one post, so stay tuned for more!

As a former school speech language pathologist, I am often asked questions concerning Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s).    “How do I get services for my child at school?” is one of those questions.  To gain a better understanding, I have broken down the process in 7 steps, to include:

  1. Pre-referral/RTI
  2. Referral
  3. Identification
  4. Eligibility
  5. Development of the IEP
  6. Implementation of the IEP
  7. Evaluation and reviews

Step 1: Pre-Referral and RTI (Response to Intervention)

The IEP process begins with interventions (also referred to as RTI).  Interventions are designed to help struggling students catch up and allow the school to see which students need more academic support.  Interventions are used to document and explain difficulties, test classroom accommodations and/or modifications, assess intervention strategies and monitor progress. 

The RTI process is flexible and designed by school districts to meet the needs of the individual student.  The RTI process TYPICALLY has three tiers. Each tier provides different levels of support.  

  1. In Tier I, all students receive instruction in the regular education classroom; the teacher helps all learners.
  2. In Tier II, the school provides interventions to students who need more support than they are currently receiving in the general education classroom.
  3. In Tier III, students are given individualized instruction.

RTI does not replace the special education process. If at any time parents believe their child has an educational disability and needs special education, they have a right to request an evaluation for special education. RTI cannot be used to delay or deny that evaluation. In addition to the information gathered during the RTI process, other forms of evaluation must occur to determine if a child is eligible for special education and parent’s written consent is required.

Step 2: Referral

If pre-referral interventions are NOT successful, the student is referred for special education services.  A REFERRAL CAN COME FROM MANY DIFFERENT SOURCES.  For infants, toddlers and preschoolers, Beaufort County has “child find”.  The child find process is intended to identify children who may be in need of special education services. (For more information contact Office of Early Childhood, Parenting and Family Literacy 843-521-2399 or ).  In the school environment, other examples of referral sources include: parent, teacher, guidance counselor, school nurse or para-professional. 

Referrals are made by contacting the school's administrator of special education, or Student Intervention Team leader and asking for an evaluation for special education eligibility. No matter who makes a referral, the parent must give informed written consent before a special education evaluation can begin.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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