'Must Read' Article on IEPs

  • Posted on: 20 March 2014
  • By: Tina McCoy

Once in a while I read an article that is so useful, I think everyone should read it.  I recently found such on article that addresses the topic of procedural errors in the IEP development process. On the surface, it sounds like old news.  Procedural errors... hmmm... obviously we want to avoid them. However, the way this article is written sets it apart from many others that tend to induce sleep rather than provide relevant guidance.  What is this article and why should you share it with every professional who serves on an IEP team in your school system?

Avoiding Procedural Errors in Individualized Education Program Development, from the periodical Teaching Exceptional Children (SEPT/OCT 2013, Vol. 46, No. 1, p. 56-64) is the 'must read/ article.  In eight very readable pages, it describes common procedural errors and how they can be avoided.  Perhaps even more valuable, in my opinion, is the clear and understandable differentiation between procedural and substantive errors and how/when procedural errors become substantive in the eyes of the law.  Although it sounds dry, it is written in everyday language (little to no special education jargon) with multiple examples that educators can easily identify with.

The thing I appreciate most about the article is that it helps the reader (any special education teacher, classroom teacher, assistant principal, etc.) grasp priorities. With so many deadlines, demands, rules and paperwork associated with the IEP process, it's easy to become desensitized to it all.  Professionals start hurriedly filling squares to meet deadlines.  They fail to see the forest and focus on each tree instead - sometimes to the detriment of the IEP process (which is intended to serve students well).  They don't always realize that some things are more important than others. For example, it is more important to include parents in the IEP process than to 'get a parent signature' before the current IEP expires.  

This article helps to put IEP tasks and requirements into perspective by addressing common errors such as failing to include parents in the IEP process, predetermining services or placement, not fielding an appropriate IEP team and more.  The ramifications of these common errors are concisely, and practical suggestions are included as well.

If you are a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), you should receive Teaching Exceptional Children in the mail.  You can also access previous issues of this journal through the CEC website.  If you aren't a member of CEC, I urge you to join so that you can take advantage of the resources offered through the organization.  After all, if you stay abreast of new information you'll be in a better position to support others within your organization. 


For more information on the benefits of joining CEC visit https://www.cec.sped.org/Membership/Benefits-of-Membership?sc_lang=en.