How to write an Individual Education Plan

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This is a manual to use for teacher training for learning how to write an Individual Education Plan.

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How to write an Individual Education Plan

  1. 1. INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PLAN Bimose Tribal Council Teacher Training Manual
  2. 2. What is an IEP? What is an iep?Table of Contents:Page 1 – What is an IEP?  a summary of the student’s strengths, interests, and An IEP is not.... needs, and of the expectations for a student’s Important information included in IEP learning during a school year that differ from the expectations defined in the appropriate grade levelPage 2- Checklist for writing IEP of the Ontario curriculum  a written plan of action prepared for a student whoPage 3- Reason for developing IEP Student Profile requires modifications of the regular school program or accommodations;Page 4- Assessment Data  a tool to help teachers monitor and communicate Student Strengths and the student’s growth needs  a plan developed, implemented, and monitored byPage 5- Required Specialized school staff; Health Support Services  a flexible, working document that can be adjusted Subjects, Courses or as necessary; Alternative Programs  an accountability tool for the student, his or herPage 6- Program Exemptions/ parents, and everyone who has responsibilities Course Substitutions/ under the plan for helping the student meet his or Secondary Diploma her goals and expectations Accommodations  ongoing record that ensures continuity in Individualized Equipment Accommodations and programming; and Exemptions for Provincial  a document to be used in conjunction with the Assessments provincial report card.Page 7- Special Education ProgramPage 8- IEP Developed by... An iep is not… … an educational program or set of expectations for allPage 9- Transition Plan students; Human Resources …a means to monitor the effectiveness of teachers; or Evaluations … a daily plan.Page 10- Log of Parent/Student Consultation and Staff Review / Updating Important Information that will be included in the iep: Principal’s Responsibilities 1. Student’s strengths and needs as recorded on Parent/Guardian/Student the statement of decision received from the Involvement IPRCPage12- IEP plan 2. Relevant medical/health information 3. Relevant formal (standardized) assessment data 4. Student’s current level of educational achievement in each program area 5. Goals and specific expectations for the student 6. Program modifications (changes to the grade- level expectations in the Ontario curriculum) 7. Accommodations required (supports or services that will help the student access the curriculum and demonstrate learning) 2
  3. 3. 8. Special education and related services provided to the student 9. Assessment strategies for reviewing the student’s achievements and progress 10. Regular updates, showing dates, results, and recommendations 11. Transition plan (if required) Checklist for writing IEP Assign primary responsibility for the IEP. Gather Information Review the student’s records (including the previous IEP and the IPRC statement of decision) Consult with the student, parents, school staff, and other professionals Observe the student Review the student’s current work Conduct further assessments, if necessary Consolidate and record information Set the Direction Establish a collaborative approach (including the student and parents) Establish roles and responsibilities Develop the IEP Identify and record the student’s strengths and needs Identify goals and expectations Determine strategies and resources Develop a transition plan ( 14 and older) Establish a monitoring cycle Implement the IEP Share the IEP with the student, parents, school staff, and other professionals (providing a copy to parents and to the student, if 16 or older) Put the IEP into practice Continuously evaluate the student’s progress Adjust goals, expectations, and strategies as necessary Review and Update the IEP Update the IEP periodically (at least once per reporting period) Review and update the IEP at year-end and when the student transfers to another school Store the IEP in the Ontario Student Record 3
  4. 4. A Closer Look at the Individual Education PlanReason for Development of IEPRegulation 181/98 requires that an Individual Education Plan be developed for everystudent identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement, and ReviewCommittee (IPRC).In addition, a school board may develop an IEP for students who have not beenidentified as exceptional but require special education programs/services. This wouldinclude:  students who are to be assessed using modified expectations for reporting on the provincial report card and/or alternative expectations on an alternative report form; and/or  students who regularly require accommodations for instructional, environmental, or assessment situations.Student ProfileExceptionalityIndicate the Ministry-approved exceptionality as stated on the IPRC Statement ofDecision.IPRC Placement Decisions (Extracted from the Ministry of Education’s Educator’s Guide toSpecial Education, 2001)Select the option that most closely resembles the student’s placement as stated in theIPRC Statement of Decision.  A Regular Class with Indirect Support The student is placed in a regular class for the entire day, and the teacher receives specialized consultative services.  A Regular Class with Resource Assistance The student is placed in the regular class for most or all of the day and receives specialized instruction, individually or in a small group, within the regular classroom from a qualified special education teacher.  A Regular Class with Withdrawal Assistance The student is placed in the regular class and receives instruction outside of the classroom for less than 50 per cent of the school day, from a qualified special education teacher.  A Special Education Class with Partial Integration The student is placed by the IPRC in a special education class where the student-teacher ratio conforms to Regulation 298, section 31, for at least 50 per 4
  5. 5. cent of the school day, but is integrated with regular class for at least one instructional period daily.  A Special Education Class Full Time The student is placed by the IPRC in a special education class, where the student-teacher ratio conforms to Regulation 298, section 31, for the entire school day.Assessment DataInformation in this section should be directly related to the reasons that give rise to theneed for special education programs and services. Examples of possible sourcesinclude: medical/health assessments (vision, hearing, physical, neurological),speech/language assessments, occupational/physical therapy assessments,behavioural assessments, and psychological assessments. A current educationalassessment may also be included as an additional information source.A summary of the assessment results should be listed in a brief statement. Specificscores are not required but a reference to “See the OSR” is not adequate. Possibleexamples include:  Report supports a diagnosis of learning disabilities  Report affirms average cognitive functioning  Information indicates a mild to moderate hearing loss  Report finds significant area of need in expressive language skillsStudent’s Strengths and NeedsIt is as important to identify a student’s strengths as it is to determine needs. Strengthsshould identify areas where the student has effective learning skills. Assessmentreports frequently identify areas of strength. Strengths should also include informationon learning modalities or styles and lead to the development of successful strategiesand accommodations that would maximize the student’s ability to learn. Possible areasof strength include:  Verbal memory skills  Task completion  Expressive language skills  Coordination and fine-motor control skills  Organizational and time management skillsAreas of need should be drawn directly from the assessment data. They should bedirectly related to the reason why the student requires changes to curriculum or thelearning environment, whether it be through accommodations, modified expectations, orthe development of alternatives to the regular curriculum. The identified exceptionalityshould be evident in the student’s areas of need. Needs cannot be expressed in termsof needing a person or a specific program or service. For most exceptionalities theneeds do not change significantly over time. Areas of need should be addressed 5
  6. 6. through the development of accommodations and/or modified/alternative expectations.Possible areas of need include:  Visual memory skills  Attention  Receptive language skills  Visual-motor speed  MobilityStrengths and needs in the IEP must be consistent with the description contained in theIPRC statement of decision, wherever applicable.Required Specialized Health Support ServicesThis section of the IEP is used to record the student’s requirements for specializedhealth support services. These services are provided by individuals specificallyassigned to administer the required procedures. In most cases, these health needsmust be addressed on a scheduled basis in order for the student to attend school.Examples of specialized health support services may include:  Suctioning  Injections  Tube feeding  Personal care - lifting, toilettingSubjects, Courses, or Alternative ProgramsPrior to completing this section, all subjects/courses and alternative programs, for whichthe student will receive instruction, should be sorted into the following organizinggroups.Accommodated only (AC) refers to subjects/courses from the Ontario curriculum thatrequire accommodations only for the student to access the regular grade expectations.Modified (MOD) refers to subjects/courses from the Ontario curriculum that require thedevelopment of modified expectations that differ from the regular grade expectations.The student may also require specific accommodations for these subjects/courses.Alternative (ALT) refers to programs that assist students to develop skills/knowledge(usually coded as “K” courses in secondary schools) and that require alternativeexpectations that are not included in the Ontario curriculum. Examples of alternativeprograms include: speech/language, anger management, orientation/mobility, andpersonal care programs. 6
  7. 7. All subjects/courses that require accommodations and/or modified expectations and allalternative programs must be listed on the IEP. Each must be identified as Modified(MOD), Accommodated only (AC), or Alternative (ALT).Program Exemptions/Course Substitutions/Secondary DiplomaProgram decisions related to curriculum exemptions and substitutions are to beincluded in this area. The educational rationale must be stated. An indication ofwhether a secondary student is working toward the attainment of a secondary schooldiploma, a secondary school certificate, or a certificate of accomplishment is required.The certificate options would be selected only when it is evident that the student isprimarily enrolled in non-credit courses or not working towards achieving credits.AccommodationsAccommodations refer to the teaching strategies, supports, and/or services that arerequired in order for a student to access the curriculum and demonstrate learning.Accommodations do not alter the provincial learning expectations for the grade and theyreflect what is different from what is provided for the other students in the class.Instructional Accommodations refer to changes in teaching strategies that allow thestudent to access the curriculum. Environmental Accommodations refer to changesthat are required to the classroom and/or school environment. AssessmentAccommodations refer to changes that are required in order for the student todemonstrate learning.Individualized EquipmentIndividualized equipment includes any type or item of equipment or any electronicproduct or system commercially produced, adapted, or custom-made. Individualizedequipment is intended to maintain, increase, or improve the student’s ability to accesscurriculum and demonstrate learning.Accommodations and Exemptions for Provincial AssessmentsThis section must be completed if the student is in a grade for which a provincialassessment is scheduled. If the student requires assessment accommodationsthroughout the school year, and these accommodations are permitted by EQAO, theymust be listed in this section. If an exemption is planned for some or all of a provincialassessment, a statement explaining why the assessment is not appropriate for thestudent, as listed in EQAO policy, is required. 7
  8. 8. Special Education ProgramThe Special Education Program page must be completed for each modifiedsubject/course and/or alternative program.Current Level of AchievementFor current level of achievement, the mark or letter grade from the most recentProvincial Report card for each subject or course with modified expectations must berecorded, and the grade level of the expectations that were assessed must be identified.If the modified expectations were taken from the regular grade curriculum but withsignificant changes to the number and/or complexity of the curriculum, the curriculumgrade level can be followed by a “MOD” for modified expectations.For example, for a grade 5 student with modifications in both Math andScience/Technology in the previous year, the current levels of achievement would berecorded as: Math Science/Technology Letter Grade/Mark C+ B Curriculum Grade Level 3 4 (MOD)Current level of achievement for an alternative skill area should be a description takenfrom the latest alternative report.Annual Program GoalThe annual program goal is a goal statement that describes what a student canreasonably be expected to accomplish by the end of the school year in a particularsubject, course or skill area. Annual program goals need to be expressed asobservable, measurable achievements. For example,  In mathematics, John will complete half of the expectations at the Grade 3 level.  In reading, Pat will improve decoding and comprehension skills to the Grade 4 level as measured by the Informal Reading Inventory.  In science, Mary will develop her recall and communication of basic concepts, inquiry skills, and her ability to relate science to the world outside the school.Learning ExpectationsLearning expectations indicate, by reporting period, the knowledge and/or skills thestudent is expected to demonstrate and have assessed. The minimum requirementduring the IEP development phase (first 30 school days following the date of placement)is the recording of the learning expectations for the first reporting period. Subsequentlearning expectations must be added at the beginning of each reporting period.Learning expectations are to be written in such a way that the student and parent are 8
  9. 9. aware of the specific expectations that will be assessed for the next report card. Theyshould represent specific knowledge and/or skills that the student can demonstrateindependently, given the provision of appropriate assessment accommodations. Formodified expectations, the curriculum grade level from which the learning expectationsare derived must also be identified. Examples of learning expectations are:  Recall addition and subtraction facts to 18 (Grade 3 expectation)  Determine a line of symmetry of a 2D shape by using paper folding and reflections (Grade 2 expectation)  Describe the basic structure and function of the major organs in one of the organ systems (Modified Grade 5 expectation)Teaching StrategiesTeaching strategies support the student in achieving his or her learning expectations.List only those strategies that are different for this student from those used with theother students. Examples may include,  teach visual strategies, like diagrams to represent content, for note making;  allow the student to tape lessons for more intense listening at a later time;  provide advance organizers to help the student structure the reading content.Assessment MethodsState the assessment method that will be used to assess the student learning outlinedin each learning expectation. Assessment methods for a subject, course or alternativeprogram should represent a range of methods and techniques and incorporate thepreviously recorded assessment accommodations. For example,  For the learning expectation “Describe the basic structure and function of the major organs in one of the organ systems”, the assessment method could be: “Short oral presentation with visual aid”.IEP Developed by:Each member of the school board staff involved in the development of the IEP must beidentified in the IEP. List both the name and position for each.Sources Consulted in DevelopmentA list of information sources used in developing and updating the student’s IEP must beprovided.Date of PlacementSelect the appropriate option for date of placement as specified by either anIdentification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) meeting or a school teamdecision. For most students, this date will be the first day of attendance in a new school 9
  10. 10. year or semester (secondary only). Regulation 181/98 requires that the completion dateof the IEP Development Phase must be within 30 school days following the Date ofPlacement.Transition PlanRegulation 181/98 requires that a transition plan be developed for exceptional pupilswho are 14 years of age or older, unless solely identified as gifted. The transition planmust address goals, actions required, names of person(s) responsible for actions andtimelines relating to the student’s transition to post-secondary activities such as work,further education, and community living. 10
  11. 11. Human ResourcesDirect instruction and/or consultation provided by special education teachers, andsupport services such as teaching assistants or services provided in the areas ofspeech pathology, audiology, physical and occupational therapy, recreation,counselling, social work, and medical services are to be identified on the IEP.Information must include the type of service provided, the initiation date, plannedfrequency or intensity, and location in which the service is to be provided.Although consultative support provided to classroom teachers by board staff ismore difficult to quantify, the type of service and minimum frequency arerequired. Types of support services provided by non-board staff should be notedon the IEP but the recording of specific information is optional. Examples ofhuman resource services include:  Youth Counsellor, 30 minutes, one day a week, conference room  Special Education Teacher, 40 minutes, 4/5 days, resource room  Educational Assistant, 30 minutes, daily, playground  Educational Assistant, 300 minutes daily of shared support with other students, classroom  Educational Assistant, approximately 1 hour/day for supportive self-care, in a variety of settings, as required  Special Education Teacher, consultation with classroom teacher(s), minimum once per termEvaluationStudent progress must be evaluated at least once in every reporting period.Three reporting dates are required for elementary and non-semesteredsecondary schools. As IEPs are generally developed each semester in asemestered secondary school, two reporting dates are to be recorded.Student progress for modified expectations, as well as all subjects or coursesthat have been accommodated only, must be reported using the provincial reportcard. When modified expectations have been written for a subject or course, theIEP box must be checked on the provincial report card. It is not necessary tocheck the IEP box for subjects/courses that have been accommodated only. Foralternative expectations, a different format should be used to report on studentachievement. IEPs must indicate the format(s) that will be used to communicateachievement to parents.Log of Parent/Student Consultation and Staff Review/UpdatingThis section of the IEP is used to document parent/student consultations duringthe development and subsequent reviews of the IEP and to record the instances 11
  12. 12. of IEP review/updating by school staff. The learning expectations must bereviewed and updated as necessary at least once every reporting period. Ifrevisions result in significant changes to the student’s learning expectationsand/or level of accommodations and services, parent/student consultation mustoccur before the changes are implemented. It is not recommended that this logbe used to record all parent-school interactions.Principal’s ResponsibilitiesAn IEP reflects the school board’s and the principal’s commitment to provide thespecial education program and services, within the resources available to theschool board, needed to meet the identified strengths and needs of the student.The principal is responsible for ensuring compliance with all of the requirementsof the standards for the development and implementation of students’ IEPs.Parent/Guardian/Student InvolvementThe parent and the student (if 16 or older) must be asked to sign the form andindicate whether they were consulted in the development of the IEP or declinedthe opportunity to be consulted, and received a copy of the IEP. A space forparent/student comments must be provided on the form. 12
  13. 13. INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PLANReason for Development of IEP Student identified as exceptional by IPRC Student not formally identified by requires special education program/services including modified/alternative learning expectations and/or accommodationsName: Gender: Date of Birth:School:Student ID#: Principal:Current Grade/Special Class: School Year:Most Recent IPRC Date: Date Annual Review Waived by Parent:ExceptionalityIPRC Placement Decision: (check one) Regular Class With Indirect Support Special Education Class With Partial Integration Regular Class With Resource Assistance Special Education Class Full Time Regular Class With Withdrawal AssistanceAssessment Data:List relevant educational, detailed medical/health (hearing, vision, physical, neurological)psychological, speech/language, occupational, physiotherapy, and behavioural assessments. Information Source Date Summary of ResultsStudent’s Strengths and Needs: Areas of Strength Areas of NeedSpecialized Health Support Services/Personal Support Required Yes (List Below) No 13
  14. 14. Subjects, courses, or alternative programs to which the IEP applies: Identify each as Modified(MOD), Accommodated online (AC), or Alternative (ALT)1. MOD AC ALT 6. MOD AC ALT2. MOD AC ALT 7. MOD AC ALT3. MOD AC ALT 8. MOD AC ALT4. MOD AC ALT 9 MOD AC ALT5. MOD AC ALT 10. MOD AC ALTElementary Program Exemptions or Secondary School Compulsory Course Substitutions Yes (Education rationale required) NoStudent is currently working toward the attainment of a: Ontario Secondary School Diploma Ontario Secondary School Certificate Certificate of AccomplishmentAccommodations:(Assume common to all subjects unless indicated)Instructional Accommodations Environmental Accommodations Assessment AccommodationsIndividualized Equipment Yes (List Below) NoAccommodation and Exemptions for Provincial Assessments:Accommodations: Yes (List Below) NoExemptions: Yes (State educational rationale) No Special Education ProgramTo be completed for each subject/course with modified expectations Student ID#and/or alternative expectations. 14
  15. 15. SUBJECT/COURSE/ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM:Current Level of Achievement: Current Level of Achievement for Alternative Program:(Describes starting point for plan development)Letter Grade/MarkCurriculum Grade LevelAnnual Program Goal(s): A goal statement describes what a student can reasonably beexpected to accomplish by the end of the school year in a particular subject, course or alternativeprogram. Learning Expectations Teaching Strategies Assessment Methods (Knowledge and/or skills to be (List only those that are different for (For expectations for each reporting assessed by reporting period, this student and specific to the period) including Grade level) learning expectations for the subject/course/alternative program) 15
  16. 16. IEP Developed by: Sources Consulted in the Development of the IEP: (check) Staff Member Position IPRC Statement of Decision (if applicable) Provincial Report Card Previous IEP Parents/Guardian Student Other (List Below) Other Sources:Date of Placement in Special Education Program: (select and appropriate option andprovide date) 1) First day of attendance in new special education program 2) First day of the new school year or semester in which the student is continuing in a placement 3) First day of student’s enrollment in a special program that he/she begins mid-year or mid-semester as a result of a change in placementDate of Placement:Completion Date of IEP Development Phase:(Within 30 school days following the Date of Placement)Transition Plan:For Student who are 14 years of age or older, unless solely identified as gifted. Transition GoalSpecific Goal(s) for Transition to Postsecondary ActivitiesActions Required Name of Person(s) Responsible Timelines for ActionsImplementation and Monitoring:Human Resources: (Teaching/non-teaching)Include service, initiation date, frequency or intensity, and location. 16
  17. 17. EvaluationReporting Dates:Reporting Format: (please check) Provincial Report Card Alternative Report (Required if student has modified expectations and/or accommodations only)Log of Parent/Student Consultation and Staff Review/Updating Date Activity Outcome (Indicate Parent/Student Consultation or Staff Review)The Principal has the legal requirement to implement and monitor the IEP.The plan has been developed according to the Ministry’s standards, addresses the student’sstrengths and needs, and the learning expectations will be reviewed and student progressmonitored at least once every reporting period.Principal’s Signature: Date:Parent/Guardian/Student Involvement: I was consulted in the development of this IEP I declined the opportunity to be consulted in the development of this IEP I have received a copy of this IEPParent/Guardian/Student Comments:Parent/Guardian Signature: Date:Student Signature: Date:(If 16 or older) **Actual copy of Ministry of Education IEP 17
  18. 18. IPRC The Identification, Placement, and ReviewPage 17- The Role of the IPRC CommitteePage 18- Specific Aspects of the The Role of the IPRC IRPC Roles Who can participate in the IPRC Process The IPRC guides the process which schools use in designing education plans to meet the individual needsPage 19- A Summary of the IPRC of special education students. An IPRC becomes Process involved once it is clear that the student may benefit -Challenges and from an alternate approach to learning. Adaptations “The needs of exceptional pupils are identified by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC). Upon receiving a written request from a students parent(s)/guardian(s), the principal of the school must refer the student to an IPRC. The IPRC will decide whether the student is an exceptional pupil and, if so, what type of educational placement is appropriate. The principal may also, on written notice to the parent(s)/guardian(s), refer the student to an IPRC. The parent(s)/guardian(s), as well as a student who is sixteen years of age or older, have the right to attend the IPRC meeting and may request that the IPRC discuss proposals for special education programs or services to meet the student’s needs. On the basis of these discussions, the IPRC can recommend special education programs and services that it considers to be appropriate for the student. The regulation governing the identification and placement of exceptional pupils directs the IPRC to consider the integration of exceptional pupils into regular classes. Before considering the option of placing a student in a special education class, the committee must consider whether placement in a regular class, with appropriate special education services, would meet the student’s needs and is consistent with the parent(s)/guardian(s) preferences. Where placement in a special education class is chosen, the committee must provide written reasons for its decision.” Ontario Ministry of Education Website: http://mettowas21.edu.gov.on.ca:80/eng/general/elemsec.speced/i dentifi.html 18
  19. 19. Specific Aspects of the IPRC RolesThe IPRC assumes responsibility for a number of activities aimed at meeting theneeds of exceptional students. A detailed discussion of this committees rolesand responsibilities is provided in the Ministry of Education document SpecialEducation: A Guide for Educators, pages D1 to D42 (available on the Ministry ofEducation Web site at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca). Here are a few of the keyaspects of the IPRC role.The IPRC will:  invite the parents and the student (if 16 years of age or older) to attend the meeting;  review relevant information about the student;  describe the students strengths and needs;  decide whether or not the student should be identified as an exceptional pupil;  identify the area(s) of the students exceptionality(ies), according to the categories and definitions of exceptionality provided by the Ministry of Education --*Must have educational assessments completed to do this.  decide an appropriate placement for the student;  provide reasons for placement if deciding for placement in a special class;  discuss proposals for special education programs and services if the parent or the student age 16 or over requests it;  review the identification and placement at least once in each school year, unless the parent gives written notice dispensing with the review.Who can participate in the IPRC Process?Any student enrolled at a school has the right to an IPRC, irrespective of thegrade the child is in (including Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten). Once thechild is enrolled, the parents have the right to request a meeting with the IPRC.Most IPRC committees are made up of three or more members. Provincialregulations state that an IPRC committee must include as members a Principaland a Supervisory Officer employed by the board.While committee members ensure that appropriate decisions and approachesare made to benefit the exceptional student, there are other importantparticipants in the IPRC process. The most centrally important participants arethe parents of the exceptional student. Each school board must prepare aParents Guide to inform parents about the IPRC and the decision-makingprocess. Information about preparing this guide is available on p. D6 of theMinistry of Education document Special Education: A Guide for Educators. 19
  20. 20. Other individuals are welcome to attend IPRC meetings. People who may attendinclude the Principal of the students school (if not already a committee member),the students teacher, special education staff, board support staff, Elder,professionals who may be able to provide further information, and arepresentative of the parent or student 16 years of age or older. An interpretermay also be present, and/or people whose presence is requested by the parentor principal of the students school (if agreeable to the IPRC chair). Theseindividuals may be able to serve as valuable resource people supporting theactivities of the IPRC. 20
  21. 21. A Summary of the IPRC ProcessThe tables on this and the next two pages are adapted from Special Education: AGuide for Educators, Figure D.1 (pages 28-30). They outline some of the steps inthe IPRC process, and their implications for parents, students and the schoolprincipal. 21
  22. 22. Summary of the IPRC Process, continued...After the first stage – Engaging the Services of an IPRC– it is necessary todecide upon the best way(s) to meet the needs of an exceptional student. Thesegeneral steps in the IPRC process are outlined below. 22
  23. 23. Summary of the IPRC Process, continued...The last stage of the IPRC process is to finalize and implement decisions madeby this committee and sanctioned by the parent(s) and student (16+). Thefollowing list outlines activities following upon committee decisions. 23
  24. 24. Challenges and AdaptationsWhile the guidelines for creating and working with an IPRC are clear, they arenot always easy to implement in First Nation contexts. For example, sometimes itis difficult, if not impossible, to create a "committee" when the only directoravailable is the political counsellor who holds the portfolio on education in thecommunity.What can be done then?For First Nation communities, the question is often "How do you create a viablecommittee that would meet the needs of both the student and the system, usingthe resources available within the First Nation community?"It is important to strive to make a committee parallel to that suggested by theMinistry, which sometimes requires a creative and adaptive approach. There areno hard and fast answers on how to do this, and admittedly, approaches mustvary from community to community, depending upon the specific situation.However, here are some comments and ideas from Aboriginal Special Educationpractitioners regarding acceptable approaches which might be used in theabsence of the type of committee that is suggested in the Ministry document.• One very good suggestion is that the counsellor in charge of education beinformed about the IPRC/IEP process, and the benefits to having one. Then,discuss with the family, and possibly the board or tribal council what the specificroles of individuals within those bodies are.• Some educators are weary to trust the political powers that be in a situationsuch as this. This is a terrible pinch to be in, but some accommodations/recommendations need to be made, and in most instances this involves theparties who are vested with the role making the recommendations, along with theprincipals.• Instead of a director, the principal of the school could take on that designation.If the political body in a given community is keen to participate, that role could bediscussed with all parties involved.• Whatever accommodation is arrived at, it is important that issues ofconfidentiality be respected for the sake of the student/family/classroom.Confidentiality is of particular concern to some practitioners when "outsiders" areinvited to participate. 24
  25. 25. • It is useful to meet as a team within the school to discuss next steps and reviewprogress on a periodic basis. Whatever adaptations are chosen, it is important toreflect upon how the Identification, Placement and Review Committee is fairingfrom time to time, and make adjustments as necessary. When there are fewindividuals to carry on the work of an IPRC, it may be wise to think about ways inwhich responsibilities could be shared so that no one individual is left to carry thefull workload. When roles are rotated, it is also important to keep acareful record of what has been accomplished to date. LabellingMany Aboriginal Special Education Teachers are especially aware of the stigmathat is attached to labelling a child, and how this doesnt fit the traditionalperspective of the communities most times. A concern that many educatorsshare is how to deal sensitively with some families who would never attend ameeting and perhaps would never agree to a "label" being slapped on their child.The best advice in this situation is to be understanding,,, to really listen to theconcerns of the family/ parents.It is important to remember to be empathetic. Parents sometimes feel that theteachers are trying "change" their child, or are unwilling to work with thembecause their child is different. This may lead to feelings that their child issomehow inadequate, or worse... less than perfect.It is important to ensure that parents understand that supporting an assessmentprocess is something they can do to help the child. Special EducationPractitioners are wise to take the time to explain that a "label" is often used moreas a tool for the childs benefit to do such things as:i) secure extra dollar resources for the student;ii) secure extra human resources for the student (if needed);iii) ensure that the student had every opportunity available to them for successwith the least amount of frustration or distress.In addition, it is often wise to downplay the label. A label is often merely a meansto an end, in that the designation it provides is recognized by educators as a toolto ensure programming is adequate and appropriate. Once assessment iscompleted, then administrators may respond to the recognition of special needsby lobbying for extra dollars for the student (when necessary). By and large thisexplanation is much easier for parents and families to accept, and allows fears tobe recognized.Downplaying the label helps to ensure that no one "loses face" or has to defendtheir traditional beliefs regarding children. Throughout all the steps of an IPRCprocess, it is important to emphasize that the student is valued and respected. Asindividuals who have responsibility for implementing a systematic and prescribed 25
  26. 26. way of addressing Special Education needs, it is important to remember theoverall goal -- to ensure that the needs of exceptional children are recognizedand addressed. Steps to address these needs must take into account theconcerns of First Nation families, children and communities. Some compromisemay be necessary to work within the Ministry directions we are given whilesimultaneously molding approaches to fit the needs of the student, family, andcommunity. Aboriginal Special Education Teachers often have the advantage ofa deep understanding of the way the community works, and know the limitationsas well as the strengths which each unique situation offers.These educators and teachers are well positioned to identify viable ways toaddress Aboriginal Special Education needs; ways which are identified andimplemented by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people. 26
  27. 27. ResourcesMinistry of Education. (2001). Special Education: A Guide for Educators.Available on the Ministry of Education website athttp://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/speced/guide.html(See especially the section on IPRCs).Minister’s National Working Group on Education. (2002, December). Our children– Keepers of the sacred knowledge. Full report available on the web at:http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ps/edu/finre/index_e.html 27

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