4 Ways Unique Learning System Helps You Write Successful IEPs

Christine Reeve

Special Education Consultant

Reeve Autism Consulting

If you’re part of a special education team working with students who have significant disabilities, you know how critical a high-quality Individualized Education Program (IEP) is to guiding your work—and to ensuring successful outcomes for your learners. But developing an effective IEP is much easier said than done! The legally mandated components. Multiple steps and meetings. A wide range of team members weighing in—from teachers and administrators to therapists and family members—virtually anyone who is involved the in the student’s education.

Having a resource that helps this team communicate and share information transparently, gather and analyze information and data, ensure compliance and monitor the student’s progress toward goals is key to success. Districts and educators using the cloud-based Unique Learning System® have found that unifying resource!

Here’s how it helps in four foundational areas of IEP development.

1. Developing the Present Levels of Performance Statement

Before you meet or begin drafting an IEP, your team collaborates on a key document that provides the basis for the student’s special education services: the statement of Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP). Having a system with real-time and ongoing assessment data to provide a clear picture of the student’s abilities and progress is ideal for completing this process.

Using the pre-tests and benchmark testing in Unique Learning System can help you develop a clear view of the present level of performance. These assessments give you the opportunity to gather information about the student—prior to the year beginning (as baseline) and monthly throughout the year—on a wide variety of academic and functional skills that can be integrated into the PLAAFP statement and, ultimately, provide language for the IEP goals.

2. Identifying the Goals and Objectives

When a student is learning several years below his or her same-age peers, choosing and writing goals that are measurable, attainable and aligned to your state’s standards can be challenging.

The crosswalks to the state standards provided by Unique Learning System help the team identify appropriate goals that meet both the student’s skill level and the required knowledge dictated by the state standards. For example, the crosswalks give clear information about how you might present an algebra standard to a student who is working on second grade skills.

3. Aligning Lessons With the Standards

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) mandates that students receive instruction that is tied to their grade-level standards. For those with significant disabilities who are not working at grade level, achievable but ambitious goals must be written that can help close the gap—a task that requires careful input and analysis to meet the student’s needs and also the legal requirements.

Unique Learning System’s instructional tools provide point-of-use alignment to general education standards as well as state extended standards, helping teachers deliver age-appropriate, differentiated lessons that are achievable and standards aligned.

Specifically, the system equips teachers with 30 monthly lessons, already adapted with assistive technology and augmentative communication tools. And more important, those lessons and accompanying activities are designed to be appropriate for the chronological age of the student while still mapping to the standard of their present grade level. Teachers can plan and deliver their lessons directly from Unique Learning System to meet the needs of all their students and implement their IEPs with fidelity.

4. Progress Monitoring

Progress reporting for each student comes from multiple sources and covers many areas of the student’s educational needs. This is where a centralized system of data collection and analysis can save your IEP team countless hours.

With Unique Learning System, teachers have access to regular pre- and post-tests to assess content knowledge and benchmark testing that can be repeated each month. Having access to this ongoing data not only informs the way you approach instruction, it also enables you to make adjustments to goals along the way, to make them more challenging or attainable as needed.

To be clear, Unique Learning System won’t run your IEP meeting for you or make sure that your document meets all the criteria of your district or state. And it won’t do the hard work of actually writing goals. But it can give you and your team the tools to make the IEP process much easier and more meaningful for your students by ensuring you have the information and reporting you need every step of the way.

About the Author

Christine Reeve provides technical assistance and professional development to schools around the U.S. After working in higher education for 13 years, she founded Reeve Autism Consulting. Christine has authored several books for special education, including <em>Taming the Data Monster</em> and <em>Setting Up Classroom Spaces for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder</em>. She is also the author of the website Autism Classroom News and Resources.