For most of us, the school year has ended. As parents of children with exceptional needs, we know that summer may be even more intense as we work on motors skills, language, behavior, and social skills. In the midst of all this we should find time to reflect and plan for next year. It is always best to come to schools with ideas for goals. You know your child best. Here are some guiding questions for reflecting and planning: Were the Individualized Education Program goals appropriate? Were they realistic? measurable? specific? Could we visualize the goals? Taking into consideration your child's hopes, dreams, and aspirations what was or is necessary to help them have equal access to the curriculum in the least restrictive environment (LRE)? Remember the law does not entitle any child to the BEST education nor placement in the general education classroom. It entitles children with disabilities to the LRE based on many factors Legislation on Least Restrictive Environment and educational benefit. Educational benefit means schools must be able to provide data that their programming is allowing equal access to the curriculum and that the child is showing progress. In other words, are they getting anything out of attending school? A student who has had the same goals for 3 years and no significant progress, may not be getting a free and appropriate education (FAPE). If your child was fortunate enough to have met their goals, this is a great time to start identifying new goals. Hopefully, you were able to visualize your child's goals because they were clearly written. What is next? Since the Individualized Education Program (IEP) is all about access to the general curriculum (Soon to be Common Core) you should familiarize yourself with them. If you look to the right of this link you will find Mathematics and Language Arts Common Core Standards http://www.corestandards.org/. Think about your child's areas of strengths as well as weaknesses. How can the areas of strength (auditory, Kinesthetic, visual, tactile, mathematical, musical, etc) be used to support their goals. Don't know your child's strengths? Try this Access to a few inventories. Goals can be social, academic, or behavioral but are based on the outcomes of any assessment which point to specific areas of need. So if you believe that the assessments missed something, consult with a lay advocate or school psychologist. The areas of need drive the services. What are your child's areas of need, per any assessments? What services, programs, and supports can be implemented to support them in those areas? If your child did not meet their IEP goals. What will be done differently next year by the team? All schools are in a financial crisis but IDEA, the law that protects your child http://idea.ed.gov/, requires schools to base services on assessed needs, not their funding or current resources. Schools are expected to collaborate with community agencies, universities, and other schools to meet the needs of children with disabilities. If a teacher lacks skills, it can be written in the IEP that the teacher gets specific training to help her meet your child's needs. This does not mean that you may ask for anything you want and expect it. If the schools has a resource or service that can meet your child's needs adequately, you must use it. Why do you think your child did not meet their goals? Here are some resources that may assist you in figuring this out IEP Team process. Another great resource is Help with IEP goals. Stay informed.