An Individual Educational Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet an individual students needs (Turnbull et al. 2013). Any child who obtains extraordinary education service is required to have an IEP. It is of great importance to the educator, the guardian and most importantly the child to apply for an IEP.
The percentage of students known to have learning problems in schools is currently 15%. As a result, education ministries came up with programs to assist not only pupils with learning disabilities but also those with learning difficulties. Students with learning difficulties are those that have a problem of understanding or have an emotional complication that affects their personal capability to learn, get along with others and follow alteration. These students have a hard time focusing for long periods, get bored easily, act carelessly, trip over things, are relentless or extraordinarily talented (Smith et al. 2013).
Siegel, 2014 suggested that these are things we all experience from time to time. It is when these characteristics become extrusive that they turn to learning difficulties. Today, at least, five to ten students in every school experience some form of learning difficulty. These difficulties appear in confinement and more often coincide to protrude with other conditions. And they do not go away, so children with learning difficulties tend to grow up to be adults with the same problem.
For parents and guardians, this can be daunting as they confuse learning difficulties with learning disabilities. They are confused about what to do, go, listen to and, how best to help their children.
Mark is a twelve-year-old boy in grade seven at a new school. He has been assessed to be having a learning difficulty despite generally being a lovely boy to classmates and the class teacher Ms. Yasmin.
From the IEP, we find out that it is not mentioned if Mark is the only child in his family, or whether he lives with his mother only or whether he has a father. Also, we find out that we do not know if Mark has or has not experienced any exceptional life circumstances such as divorce or death in a family. Mark's mother has taken a dedicated role to help Mark in his education by ensuring that all school activities are up-to-date.
The document does not show Mark's past review from the previous school(s) he attended. We have no records to show that Mark had been experiencing learning difficulties or whether they began when he joined the new school on 1st September 2014, and his first review was on the fourth of January 2015. Mark has shown a strong relationship with his peers and loved by many, but is shy. He has always behaved well in class. However, he needs motivation to participate in class activities.
Mark has shown us that he has a poor concentration in class and a poor memory. The teacher also discovered that he has a problem with Math skills that he need to develop as seen from his IEP. The IEP has no record of the party involved to put Mark in the IEP which has been there for the last three months now.
However, we find out that Mark is already in the program, and he is receiving adjustment from his mother who supports him and follows up whenever he is at home. The class teacher is currently monitoring and assessing him by reviewing him together with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and Class Teachers (CTs).
Student's Difficulties and IEP
Mark's Initial Education Plans (IEP) seems to not have been there before he joined the new school. It was three months after he joined the school he received his first IEP assessment on 4th of January 2015. Based on the evaluation results, Mark was eligible for special education services provided to assist him to improve his class attentiveness, improve his concentration span, and boost his memory and his math skills. In facing Mark's learning problem was not that serious. All he needed was help in improving his learning skills.
At the time of his assessment, Mark was three months old in his new school, and it showed that Mark was inattentive, had no concentration, had a poor memory, and had no Math skills. It meant that Mark had to undergo a number of assessments to identify his progress in various other disciplines as well to document the severity of his learning difficulties and help to inform a decision making process for appropriate measures to meet the needs of the student. Even though few assessments were made to discover Mark's problem, they did not uncover the mystery of the origin of his learning difficulties.
Strategies and Resources provided
Mark's IEP contained strategies and resources that would be provided for him to work on before the next assessment. There was the provision of an overhead projector that shows an outline of the lesson of the day. The teachers were to provide with visual tools such as charts and graphs. The strategies to be applied were to keep oral instructions clear and concise and reinforce them with brief cue words. The teacher was to give assignment both in written and oral form, use of plenty examples, verbal and written to make a topic more applicable, assist Mark in borrowing other students' notes, and finally reduce curriculum load to fit Mark's ability.
The teacher was to offer all kind of assistance in learning while he was in school and when Mark went home the mother was to assist him in doing home assignments and monitor him.
Mark's IEP mark is not sufficiently detailed to provide information necessary to help him in his learning difficulty. Firstly, from the IEP, Mark's social background was not mentioned before he joined the new school. It is important to note what lead to Marks failure to concentrate in class, absent mindedness and wanting Math skills. Most students that have attention problems usually have other problems that are bothering them. It could be problems at homes such as divorce, loss of a family member, or it can also be in school (Bateman, et al. 2011).
As Dettmer, Knackendoffel and Thurston, (2012, p. 13) had suggested, before a student enrolls to IEP, an evaluation should be done by a teacher, parent, a counselor, a doctor or any other professional person who suspects a child is struggling. A decision is then reached that includes the parent of the child, the teacher, and the administration who decide whether the student needs special education service.
Mark's IEP does not show his results from his first assessment on 4th of January 2015. They include the general performance in class and subject performance so that it is easy to conclude that the student needs special education unlike others in the class.
Mark's IEP also failed to list any academic skills as well as extracurricular activities. They are important to note as it is important to help him continue to develop his interests. Since he can relate to them, it will not be very difficult for him and the program become easier for him (Bateman and Herr, 2011).
The IEP also does not show us what helps Mark learn. These things that have helped the student perform better in certain academic areas as compared to others. These are some of the things the teachers and other parties involved could emphasize on to enable him to perform better in other areas he has not shown improvement beside the strategies and resources they could apply to help him (Smith et al. 2013). For instance, Mark could be using pictures to help him understand what he is reading.
Mark has been found to have the particular areas he needs to develop, but then we do not know what interferes with his learning. What makes him not to be attentive in class, and why does he have a short memory span? These are some of the information supposedly mentioned by the parties involved such as the parent and the class teachers whom may have discovered the students inabilities during the day-to-day school routine.
There is no mentioning of Mark's academic strengths in the IEP, such as if he has a strong reading vocabulary or general skills. It has just mentioned his good social skills, which are not the only things. We cannot say he is that dumb or that he is only good at socializing but too weak in academics which are the most important thing the IEP focuses. These strengths can be of importance to improve on to help him in improving on other weak academic skills he has.
It is also important to note the kind of environment that best suits Mark. For example, he might need a quiet, separate place to do his individual work, or he works best in small groups. These are areas that could be of importance to help him achieve his goals.
The IEP does not have an annual goal. These are a list of activities the student will do so as to achieve his goals. They are relevant and reasonable targets for the student to accomplish in a year. They are broken down into short-term objective or benchmarks tested termly or monthly. They address social or behavioral needs and importantly, academic goals. The goals must be measurable to make it possible to range if the student has achieved the goals (Bateman and Herr, 2011).
An IEP must list the special education and related services to be provided to the student or on behalf of the student. These include supplementary aids and services that the student requires. The modification is also necessary to the program needed for the student. In this case, Mark's IEP has shown these supplementary aids are to help him with a science discipline instead of a Math, which was found to be the issue he needed to improve.
The IEP has already stated when the services are offered, but it has not listed how long the service will last. It is necessary for a twelve-year-old student since he is going to undergo transition during this period which mostly happens at the age of fourteen or even at a younger age. At the transition period, most students are either leaving school for high school studies. The student also has the need to prepare to leave school with good grades so as to choose courses he needs to take to reach his post-school goals (Siegel, 2014).
From Mark's IEP the parent involvement has not listed the number of activities the mother will do to assist Mark in his program. There are no strategies or resources she has been listed to provide but a general statement that shows she will follow up. There should be a list of activities the parent should provide Mark when he is at home besides seeing that he has already done school assignments and taking the time to go through what he learned in school. The mother could give Mark some extra assignment beside what he had from school; that is during short holidays.
The IEP has not shown the review date of the first time Mark got assessed. Neither has it shown if there was any success in the strategies that were applied. However, being an ongoing monitoring and assessment, Mark getting assessed should be registered so as to provide a natural time to evaluate the success of the program (Smith et al. 2015).
All parties involved in Mark's IEP should show that they participate in the program. Through commenting and signing at the end of the IEP document. It means the Head of School, the subject teachers, The Special Educational Needs Coordinator and finally the parent.
The most important part the IEP missed to include is to talk about extracurricular activities as well as nonacademic activities that Mark was or was not participating in. These are activities that fall outside the standard school curriculum. They are voluntary and are more social than the academics (Dettmer et al. 2012). The IEP has mentioned that Mark has a good relationship with his friends, but has not mentioned whether there are voluntary, nonacademic activities that make him...
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