For a student with a disability who receives special education services in a public high school, a meeting is set up once a year or when necessary to help the student and the student's support team review and update the student's IEP. The IEP is the student's individualized education program, the legal document that describes the support that students with a disability will receive in their academic years through high school. During the IEP meeting, the student's goals and plans, as well as the services the student may receive, are reviewed. Below are some key points to keep in mind for this important meeting.
Creating a transition plan
In high school, a transition plan is added to a student's IEP. By law, a student must have a transition plan by age 16, at the latest. A transition plan includes goals for post high school and identifies support services to help achieve those goals. The transition plan is based on the student's needs, strengths, skills, and interests. Students can use one of their IEP meetings to create this plan.
The benefits of a student-led IEP transition meeting
There are benefits linked to students taking a leadership role in their IEP meeting. High school students who lead their IEP meetings help to develop advocacy skills necessary to carry them well beyond high school. And for a student with a disability, developing these advocacy skills is key in helping them obtain the support they need to succeed in both their educational setting and in the workplace.
Important tips to help students lead their IEP meeting
It's helpful for students to follow the steps below in preparation for leading their IEP meeting.
- Understand your rights and your IEP. The more you know and understand about the IEP process, the more active you will become in your leadership role. Ask an adult in the school such as your counselor, teacher, or case manager to help you learn more about your IEP. Learn your rights as a student with a disability and read your IEP (including your transition plan).
- Know yourself. Make a list of your strengths and interests. Also, write down what things help you and what things make it hard for you to do well in school and beyond. This will help you clearly define what you need in terms of support from your high school at your next IEP meeting.
- Create goals for your IEP. Create goals for school, work, and living on your own and discuss these with your school team. Your goals should be based on your strengths, interests, and needs. The goals that you create will be the basis for your IEP meeting
- Prepare to lead your IEP. Think about what parts of the IEP you feel comfortable leading and remember, you do not have to lead the whole meeting.
- Practice leading your IEP. Practice the parts of the IEP that you are going to lead with someone you are comfortable with or talk about it with your school liaison.
It is important for students to know that their IEP and their IEP meetings are about them. Encourage them to prepare well for their conversations about their IEP and to advocate for themselves, but to lean on their support network to get the guidance and help they need to succeed.
The U.S. Department of Education has provided some helpful informaiton for students with disabilities planning their postsecondary education on their website here.