Education is a very crucial basic need for every individual in the society irrespective of the individual’s physical or social status. This has seen the introduction of equity laws in the United States that seek to ensure and guarantee that individuals with disabilities aren’t left behind, but are given an equal opportunity just like other members of the society. As a primary requirement of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all public schools offering education to disabled children must maintain an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to facilitate and enhance learning (LaVenture, 2007). This paper, therefore, seeks to analyze the important features of an IEP and their significance as they aim at improving the quality of education among the disabled.
The New York City Department of Education defines IEP as a guideline document that describes the special education formulated to meet the unique educational needs of disabled children (web). According to Siegel (2011), an IEP refers to a meeting document or an outline of a child’s educational program as a whole (Siegel, 2011). According to the US Department of education, an IEP is an individualized document, for a child receiving special education and related services, having a description of the same with an aim of improving the quality of education of the particular child (web).
In accordance with the IDEA, before an IEP is prepared for a child, he or she must be subjected to a process that is geared towards identifying his or her disability and specific special needs. This process is widely made up of ten steps, and it starts with identifying an individual child who requires special education, and ends with the reevaluation of the child special needs (web). The law or policy underlining that IEP incorporates an educational program formulated to meet the child’s special needs and certain important information about the child is very crucial and integral. This document is meant to be used by the schools’ and various stakeholders to assist disabled children improve their overall educational experience (LaVenture, 2007).
The format of an IEP is the same for all children, and it contains ten parts as discussed below.
This part explores the current or present progress of any disabled child in a learning institution and is referred to as educational performance at current levels. This section highlights the effects of disability, especially on the progress of the child in relation to the general curriculum. These results are obtained from the normal class tests, exams given during reevaluation process and observations from relevant institutions and stakeholders such as teachers, parents and school associates (LaVenture, 2007).
This part is very significant in the sense that it assists in the general identification of individual needs of the disabled child. It is also assists in the identification of strengths and effects of disability on specific areas of learning such as reading, behavior and traits, languages in written form, extra curriculum activities and other specific disciplines such as mathematics and sciences. Additionally, this part is crucial because it assists in establishing and recognizing a disabled student’s academic functional achievements (LaVenture, 2007).
Essentially, this part includes the objectives and aims that a disabled child can achieve within a specific timeline, usually one year, in a reasonable manner. These aims and objectives must focus on the issues directly or indirectly affecting the child’s educational life e.g. academics, physical needs and behavioral needs. These goals must also be formulated for them to have measurable characteristics. In this case, it must be possible to ascertain whether goals have been met, both in the short-term and in the long-term. These goals must also be related to the child’s needs, realistic in nature and time limited; the process of goal formation if guided by these properties. This part is also significant because it can be used to monitor the child’s progress in his or her bid to succeed in the general curriculum since the goals are designed to meet the needs resulting or arising from disability (LaVenture, 2007).
This part outlines the services offered to the disabled child or on his behalf. These services include special education, extra aid, and related services. The IDEA recommends that these services should be based research, and they should be pragmatic. It also includes alterations to the institutions main programs and support programs that facilitate and enhance the realization the needs of the disabled. This part is significant since it enables the stakeholders of the institution to identify and know the disable’s crucial needs. Additionally, it ensures that the former is provided in line with the provisions of the law (LaVenture, 2007).
Participation with nondisabled children
There is no doubt that disabled children must interact with their non-disabled counterparts. Therefore, it is necessary for an IEP to include a statement that explains the extent to which the disabled children will interact or associate with other individuals. This statement should describe the circumstances and parameters of such as interaction. The IEP should outline the advantages and disadvantages of isolating or removing a disabled child from the normal learning environment or curriculum. This part is significant in ensuring effective learning and equitable distribution of knowledge between both the disabled and nondisabled children. Essentially, this provision assists the disabled during the learning process (LaVenture, 2007).
Dates and places
This part states the timing requirements for offering the program. In addition, it indicates when the program commenced, it scope and the procedures to be followed. This part also indicates the length or duration of the program. This part is significant in ensuring that the program is effective, in improving the overall results, because it is based upon the individual needs of child (LaVenture, 2007).
This part of the IEP indicates how the child’s progress will be accorded measurements. Moreover, it indicates the mode and means of ensuring that the child’s parents receive the same information. This part is important in ensuring that the child’s progress towards achieving the annual goals are reported and monitored. This will ensure that critical recommendations are made with the aim of improving the quality of education for the disabled child (LaVenture, 2007).
Transition service needs
For a disabled child to attain desired post-school objectives, he/she must undertake some courses or programs. These courses are prepared before he/she attains the age of fourteen years. It is also recommended that the child’s subsequent IEP incorporate the transition service needs. This part is crucial in maintaining focus and providing a guideline in terms of lessons and courses necessary for ensuring that the quality of education is upheld and the child’s goals are achieved (LaVenture, 2007).
This part contains a confirmation that the child, one year before reaching majority age, has been informed about the rights that will be transferred to him/her on reaching majority age. This part is important since it ensures that the child is aware of his rights. List of Questions
- What is the importance of an IEP to the disabled and to each of the stakeholders e.g. school staff, other normal children, and the teachers?
- What qualifies one to have an IEP and what are the procedures followed for identifying a person requiring an IEP?
- How are the needs of disabled children identified, having in mind that some of them are conservative in nature i.e. how is the information about their needs obtained?
- What bodies or persons are authorized by the law to prepare an IEP and at what juncture in life is it required to be prepared?
- Which laws govern the preparation and administration of an IEP?
- How does the IEP contribute to the improvement of the quality of learning while at the same time improving the results of its users, especially in relation to those it has been prepared for?
- Is it possible for an IEP to be prepared for other children with other forms of disability, that is, children who are not physically disabled e.g. children who are mentally disabled, those suffering from autism, disruptive disorders, and anxiety disorders? If yes, then how can it be done?
- Which bodies or persons are entrusted with monitoring preparation of IEP’s in learning institutions and ensuring that they meet their objectives? How do they perform these mandates?
- What actions can be taken in circumstances where the IEP fails to perform or meet the purpose for which it was formed?
It is worthwhile to applaud and recognize the provision of law that underlines and emphasizes the provision of quality education to the disabled through the preparation of IEP. The preparation of this document underlines the fact that some children have some shortcomings, which others do not, and this disparity affects the quality of education that they receive. The incorporation of the IEP attempts to ensure a level playing field for all children by providing equity in the academic and other learning sectors. The components of the IEP provide a strong framework that is sufficient, critical, and effective in improving knowledge dissemination and guaranteeing improved results among the disabled.