Tips for staying organized as you write IEPs

6:16 AM

Annual review season.  Special education teachers know exactly what that means!  Getting ready to meet to discuss the progress of your students and put together a plan for the following year is time-consuming and hard work!   Preparing takes up a ton of time from planning, collaborating with classroom teachers and service providers, meeting with parents, actually writing the IEPs, and sometimes even more meetings.  I can’t even begin to calculate how much time I spend during this season getting ready for annual reviews.  I have 15+ students on my case load and two young boys at home who HATE to sleep, so it’s really important to be organized so that I can be productive with the little time I have. 

Here are some things I do to try to stay organized:

1.    Before my CSE meetings, I try to touch base with each student’s classroom teacher, service providers, and parents to discuss progress and think about potential programs and services for the following year.  As I meet with these important team members, I try to keep track of the information on a pre-CSE notes form I created.  I list what we discuss about the student’s academic, social, and physical areas. In addition, I include testing and program accommodations/modifications, recommended programs and services, and any parent concerns. Recording all this information on the form is really helpful to me as I can ensure that everyone’s observations and concerns about a student are accurately represented on the child’s IEP.  It also helps me get a holistic view of how the child is doing throughout his/her school day.  Even though it takes time, I have found that communicating with all team members before the annual review makes the CSE meeting go so much smoother!  

-Here is a pre-CSE notes *freebie* for you to use before, during, or after collaborating with team members!

2.  Look through all of your progress monitoring, progress reports, report cards, and testing; use this information to help you describe the student’s present level of performance.  You have probably already described your students’ progress multiple times throughout the year.  Use some of what you have already written! 

3.  Think about your student’s strengths and interests as you write your IEPs. There’s always a section on an IEP about what your student likes to do and his/her strengths.  At the beginning of the year, I like to do an interest inventory and a learning style survey.  These always help me with planning lessons throughout the year and getting to know my kids better.  They are also great for when I add information to my student’s strengths and interests section.

4.  Your student's needs often require goals to address them. When I’m writing my goals, I keep a running list in a Word document. I do this as I often have students with similar needs.  I do not keep the goals the same, but it makes it easier to have a place to start from that I can then tweak to better fit each individual student.  For example, one student may have a goal to “read 100 words per minute on a fourth-grade text with 98% accuracy.”  Another student may have a similar goal to “read 120 words per minute on a fourth-grade text with 98% accuracy,” or even “read 100 words per minute on a fourth-grade passage with 95% accuracy.”  Having the running list of goals makes goal-writing much less time consuming than starting from scratch each time. 

5.  Keep track of all CSE meetings, planned team meetings, phone conversations with parents, and due-dates in your calendar and plan book.  This always help me to stay organized and also provides documentation of collaboration with team members.  

What tips and tricks do you have for organizing yourself during annual review season?!

by Lauren

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