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Most Parents Pleased With Role In Child’s IEP


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Developing a special education program for any child can be a contentious process, but new research suggests most parents are satisfied with their inclusion at individualized education program, or IEP, meetings.

In a study looking at the experiences of families of more than 10,000 students with disabilities, the majority of parents said they attended their child’s most recent IEP meeting. And of parents who attended, about 70 percent said they thought their level of involvement in decision making was “about right.” In most other cases, parents said they wanted to be more involved.

The research, published this month in the Journal of Disability Policy Studies, is based on data on students ages 11 to 19 collected through two U.S. Department of Education studies. The federal reports are the first to offer a national look at participation of parents and students with disabilities at IEP meetings.

Despite the positive overall response, however, certain factors did increase the likelihood of dissatisfaction. Parents of students with challenging behavior or difficulty with social skills were less satisfied with the IEP process than others. Similarly, race and income level appeared to play a role, with those who are white and members of higher income brackets reporting that they had better experiences than those from other demographic groups, the study found.

What’s more, parents of younger students were also more likely to be satisfied, the researchers said, suggesting that burnout plays a role as students age.

“Finding ways to address obstacles to parents’ involvement at school is particularly important in light of the benefits associated with it,” wrote the study authors from SRI International, an independent research firm. “Research demonstrates that greater involvement of parents of students with disabilities is associated with better student outcomes of many kinds, including better school engagement, academic performance, social adjustment and independence.”

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Comments (7 Responses)

  1. IEPmama says:

    I don’t know who these folks claimed to interview but clearly they were the uninformed parents that continue to bring the system down for those who really do understand children’s lives are at stake depending on the education they receive. Pass on the preferred seating or air conditioning only rooms and get reading remediation but instruction in grammar rules for writing.

  2. Sonja L says:

    While this article claims that parents are satisfied with their inclusion in the IEP process, it doesn’t go far enough to determine parent satisfaction AFTER the IEP and whether or not services/accommodations/modifications had actually been implemented as written. I’ve been to so many IEPs (I also help other families for no fee as a long-time CAC member and advocate) where procedure is properly followed for the meeting itself, but no implementation afterward.

    Many times they might claim to listen, but have pre-determined what they want to do with a child and, by subtle intimidation, force their decision on a family in spite misgivings. The “team” is usually top-heavy with district/school personnel who have THEIR best interests in mind (budget, service provision, etc) and a family view is usually discounted in favor of the school “team’s” pre-determined decisions. I’ve been to many IEPs where FAPE was already written down before any discussion (including my own son’s).

    Many families also don’t know that they can ask for assessments in advance of meetings which would help streamline proceedings and allow for more targeted questions. They might be happy in their ignorance, but if given more knowledge of what they can really do, it might be a different story altogether.

    There are many families who do not really understand that the extent of their participation can go beyond the one meeting per year. They do not understand that they can call a meeting whenever they feel there is a problem to address with a current IEP. We’ve been losing our parent training funds at an alarming rate so that it is even more difficult to provide proper instruction on a family’s rights and responsibilities.

    Schools are in such a financial bind now, too that whatever is written can “appear” compliant, but is not necessarily implemented properly (if at all). I’m seeing more and more clerical duties placed upon resource teachers who should be working with children. Personnel cuts and lack of funding is making it difficult for districts to provide proper compliance oversight.

    This sounds so lovely, but in reality it will become worse, not better for parents, as we see the parent training dollars disappear.

  3. AGJ says:

    I don’t know who they interviewed, but they certainly didn’t contact me! I have asked our local & state board of education for years to put out some kind of survey to the school districts asking for parents input about their IEP experiences. Many parents in our district are frustrated with our local school district and their ability find loop hole, after loop hole in the process to avoid giving services to our kids. I specifically DO NOT agree with the findings about elementary schools! Our elementary school has been horrible about withholding services for our child. Very disappointing.

  4. Carmen Allen says:

    I wonder who took the survey and how many were system employees with children in the system. Just a thoought.

  5. Sonja L says:

    We cannot access the study to understand how conclusions were made. A typical parent doesn’t have a spare $20 for access to one article for one day. We also need better sharing of information if we’re to be considered true partners in this process. This is yet another example of the education establishment controlling the process.

  6. Susa says:

    Any educated concerned parent ( including myself) has most likely been thru hoops trying to get schools to be compliant with IEP’s. And then there is the issues of schools not wanting to spend $$$ for kids. Also you are dealing with uneducated teachers- who would rather stay uneducated, (with exception of few).
    Its a continuous battle which is sad because our kids need to learn, teachers need to be educated and flexible to deviate from their style of teaching. As well all know not everyone learns in only one method of teaching- special needs or typical kids.
    I wonder where this info came from and I certainly don’t buy it !

  7. Eric Wi says:

    30% of parents saying that the local districts did not facilitate an IEP are not good numbers. Would you go to a hotel, movie theater, doctor, or get your car fixed at place that boast about that number?

    I am always skeptical of this number anyway because the U.S. Department of Education studies use the state educational agencies’ methods of collecting data. In some cases it has been filling out the survey right after the IEP meeting in front of the district staff. My observation is large number of unhappy parents are never given the form or the website info.
    If you have never participated in a survey please Google for your state education agencies and look for the parent survey. Most are online now. They need to collect data for something called Indicator 8 “Percent of parents with a child receiving special education services who report that schools facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving services and results for children with disabilities”

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