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IEP Annual Review: Transitioning to Middle School and Questions to Ask

Like any change, change means different. What you don’t want to be different are the services in the IEP vs. what is provided for in school. Here are the questions to ask to help ensure the elementary school IEP is met with integrity at the middle school.

How do they report progress means to ask to see sample progress reports? Show them the kind you are expecting to receive and that you will not accept ones where words such as “making progress, or “Likely to meet IEP goals” are the manner of reporting progress.  If its suggested that the “system only provides that option” politely remind them they can provide the progress reports in writing, but they are to be written in behavioral and measurable terms. You are looking for measurable progress against the IEP goals. Descriptors, such as “making progress” are not measurable and not acceptable.

What settings for service (LRE) are available at the middle school—even if your child requires minimal interventions, you will still want to know what settings of service he will receive his instruction in.  Will it be all general education classes, general education classes with two teachers (a special education and a general education teacher), or are services provided in a pull-out program for part of the day, or self-contained and if the setting of service is more restrictive than it is in the elementary school, you will want to know why that is and discuss other options.

How does staff ensure current IEP special education and related services are carried over to middle school and implemented accordingly?

How will all his teachers be aware of his IEP needs? In general, you will want to know how school staff will make all of his teachers aware of his IEP needs related to academics, behaviors, accommodations, AT, etc.

How are his reading needs provided outside of the special education reading class? What classes will he miss if he is provided reading?  Will he have to make up work if he misses a class while taking the reading class?  You want to know what materials and intervention/approaches they are going to use to meet the needs of the IEP, i.e., reading/dyslexia, etc.

If you child has ADHD, you will want to know what approaches they will use to increase his attention to tasks. And you will want to make certain there are teacher interventions used to prevent problems of attention—or at least reduce non-attention behaviors–and not a “system” where your child is punished because she was not attending to the task as hand.

How are you ensured accommodations and AT are provided to your child? That they are provided in every class where there are needed?

Who manages your child’s IEP? Is there an assigned case manager?  With so many teachers, do you contact the case manager or her teacher directly? Is there a department chair? What is their name? Is there an assistant principal assigned to oversee special education with whom you can speak? Who is her guidance counselor?

And although the law says that transition services must begin by age 14, you should feel free to begin discussion about transition services that will begin at age 14.  You can say, “I know the law suggests waiting till the child is 14, but I want to being that discussion now.” I’d like information about grades and when they impact graduation, the diploma tracks that are available and to know what the requirements for obtaining a diploma are.  And you would like a copy of the district’s current grading and graduation policies—even though you know they could change.  This is not the time to accept a word of mouth reply. You want district polices, not school policies. And you want them on the requirements for obtaining a diploma and what the grading policies are on passing courses, passing grades, bullying, etc. Again, these are board approved policies that you want a copy of.

Ask about what activities are available at the middle school, after school nonacademic activities, clubs, etc.

Ask if there is anything you should have asked but did not?

Following the meeting, send an email briefly outlining key points discussed and any decisions made, along with any other questions you might have.

What other questions might you suggest asking at IEP meetings preparing for middle school? Note and share them below.