There are many ways to organize your child’s individualized education program (IEP) and related paperwork. Getting and staying organized for IEP meetings can help your child get the best possible outcome from their IEP, which is designed to ensure your child’s learning needs are met. In this article, we share tips for creating an at-home IEP organization system that will work for you, including an IEP binder.
The IEP Binder
Creating an IEP binder will allow you to document your child’s journey through special education, and will support you in making data-based decisions for your child’s education. One of the best ways you can get organized for IEP meetings is by using an IEP binder.
An IEP binder is a tool to help add order to your child’s paperwork. It’s tailored to fit your organization system and the unique needs of your child. It can be a 3‑ring binder or a durable plastic folder with a 3‑hole punch. Inside the binder is information related to your child’s IEP, contact information, an area for notes, and tools for tracking progress.
The IEP 1‑pager is a 1‑page document summarizing your child’s IEP. It includes the most important information about your child’s learning program to help teachers understand how to best support them. This optional document is often shared with teachers and other school staff who work with your child. If the case manager doesn’t share one, parents are welcome to create their own version to share. When parents create their own document, they offer a unique perspective of their child’s learning and behavioral strengths and challenges. Your child may enjoy making the 1‑pager with you. A sample, downloadable IEP 1‑pager is available for reference.
Include the name, email, and phone number for each of the key people involved in your child’s special education program. For example, your list may include the special education teacher, general education teacher, and therapists (speech, physical, occupational, etc.).
Including a few pages for notes may help you organize your thoughts before an IEP meeting. You may wish to separate the notes pages into sections for questions, concerns, and recommendations or proposed changes. An example of a concern might be your child’s emotional well-being. A recommendation might be increasing or decreasing service hours.
Include previous IEPs in your binder for reference. It usually makes sense to put the most recent one first. Having previous IEPs handy during an IEP meeting can be helpful when trying to recall specific service times, goals and objectives, or other details about what the team has tried before.
Some parents track their child’s progress toward IEP goals, though this is optional. If you are provided with a copy of a goal tracker, you can keep it in this section of the IEP binder. If you want to create your own tracker, you can make a spreadsheet or table of the IEP goals and notes about how your child’s work shows progress toward those goals. As the school year progresses, keep some of the work your child brings home (quizzes, tests, essays, drawings, classwork packets, etc.) that relate to your child’s IEP goals.
Many parents find it helpful to bring some of their child’s work samples to the IEP meeting to highlight progress or showcase concerns. They are evidence that helps you and the IEP team see how your child is learning over time. Some parents keep a few key samples from each quarter of the school year for their records.
Make one section of the IEP binder for evaluations. It is helpful to order them from most recent to oldest. Be sure to include any independent evaluations that were completed outside of the school.
It’s important to keep copies of updated prescriptions and/or medication forms, as well as any other relevant medical documentation.
You may collect informational guides, brochures, cheat sheets, and reference pages related to your child’s disability and education planning.
You will receive a copy of the procedural safeguards at every IEP meeting you attend. Keeping one hard copy will be useful if you need to look up what to do in case of a disagreement with the team or a question about a compliance timeline, for instance.
Other Ways to Stay Organized
What works best for each family in regard to IEP organization may be different. Some people work better with filing cabinets, folders, or another system altogether. Do what works for you! The important thing is that you are keeping documentation in one place to make informed decisions regarding your child’s education. Your child is lucky to have you advocating for them!
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