Effective IEP Meetings Part 4: Services

The service section is the next portion of the IEP when using the IEP Connection Worksheet to ensure alignment across all areas of the IEP.
By Trish Geraghty
The service section is the next portion of the IEP when using the IEP Connection Worksheet to ensure alignment across all areas of the IEP. 

Services are directly related to the time and instruction needed to support the goals.

Connection starts with the needs identified in the PLAAFP, then the goals, and now the services. There must be a service for each corresponding goal. Make sure you do not fall into the “starter IEP” trap where every student receives thirty minutes of service time for each area. 

Start with the goal and work with the team to determine how much specially designed instruction is truly needed to reach the goal. For example, a student most likely does not need thirty minutes a day of reading fluency. If the actual instructional time is fifteen minutes, then write that. 

Consider how you structure the goal time and your classroom. Transition times can add up quickly, think about how you can limit those so the focus stays on instructional time. Instructional rotations are an effective way to limit transitions (back and forth for class) and maximize time on task while addressing the individual needs of multiple students. 

Keep in mind the location of services, too, as you complete this section. Can the services be provided in the general education setting? The goal for all services should start with providing those services in the general education classroom. Services provided away from non-disabled peers will impact the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), and, studies show, negatively impact student achievement. Every time you pull a student out of their classroom he/she is missing content instruction. This puts your student at greater risk of falling further behind. Ask yourself, “Does this instruction have to be provided only by me and in my classroom?” There are many barriers to providing specially designed instruction in the LRE. Staffing and scheduling are the top two. Remember to keep the student at the center of all decisions, and if providing instruction in the general education setting is best, then it is time to get creative with staff and scheduling. See this blog post on co-teaching for ideas.

Less is when it comes to specially-designed instruction services. That may sound counterintuitive to our work. Collaboration with our general education colleagues allows us to support our students in the LRE. Much of our work can be done in conjunction and support within the general education classroom. 

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Trish Geraghty
Trish Geraghty currently serves as a director for school improvement and supports schools in the continuous improvement process. Prior to working in school improvement, Trish was a special education director for eight years in a large urban school district. She received her Master’s Degree from Arizona State University in 2013 in Educational Leadership. She also holds two additional Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Phoenix. Literacy instruction, data analysis, and Strengths-based leadership are areas of research and presentations Trish shares frequently with schools and their leadership teams. Trish was named teacher of the year by the Council for Exceptional Children in 2004 and a finalist for the Rodel Teacher of the Year in 2010. She has educational experience at the elementary, secondary, and university level. To contact Trish, please email trishkgeraghty@gmail.com.

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