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Using the ARD/IEP Agenda to Understand the Special Education Process

 



 
 

The ARD/IEP Agenda is an effective tool that schools use during ARD/IEP meetings.  The Agenda lists the topics that must be addressed by the ARD/IEP committee as required by law.  These topics are listed in the order in which they will be usually discussed during the ARD/IEP meeting.  Your school may have an agenda available that you can use at the meeting.

The ARD committee should review each topic in the order presented and work toward reaching a consensus among all members of the group.  Using the ARD Agenda allows you to have a greater understanding of the formal ARD meeting and lets you know what to expect. 

The Agenda listed below is an example of what an ARD Agenda may look like.  Before the ARD Meeting, ask your school to see a copy of the Agenda.  It will help you prepare for this most important meeting.

(Find a listing of this agenda without descriptions – Click Here)

Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD)
Committee Meeting Agenda

GETTING STARTED

INTRODUCTIONS
Participants in the ARD meeting introduce themselves and describe their role at the meeting for the record. 
NOTE: It is important for parents to know that minutes are taken at each ARD meeting.  The purpose of the minutes, or deliberations, is to record what happened at the meeting.  It is like a diary.  Ask who will be taking the minutes and request that they capture as much information as possible. This will serve as the only record of the discussion and decisions, so slow down and ask that important discussion or decisions are included. 

PURPOSE OF ARD/IEP MEETING
The purpose of the ARD meeting is reported for the record.  The purpose may be for a variety of reasons, including an Annual ARD, a Review ARD, an ARD to discuss a new evaluation, etc.  The purpose is disclosed at this point in the meeting and becomes a part of the record.

INTERPRETER (if needed)
For parents who are not English speakers, an interpreter is provided by the school district so that the parents are fully informed of all discussions taking place at the ARD meeting and are able to participate fully.  Parents should notify the school when they need interpretation.

WAIVERS
The law states that parents should be provided with 5 days written notice before an ARD meeting.  If the parent agrees to a meeting in less than the 5 day timeframe, they will sign a waiver.

In addition, at this time, if a parent agrees to excuse a member of the ARD committee whose attendance at the meeting is not necessary because the person’s curriculum or related service area will not be discussed or modified; another waiver might be signed noting that the parent and school agree to this.

Not all districts require a waiver to be signed to excuse a member of the ARD committee from attending the meeting; some districts document parent agreement for member excusal in meeting minutes.

1.  Review Evaluation Data and Other Information
Any new evaluation information or data that has been gathered and will impact IEP decisions is reviewed with the ARD/IEP Committee at this point in the meeting.

  • Full and Individual Evaluation
  • Other Evaluations (Consider need for additional evaluation)
  • Vocational Assessment
  • Parent Information, including your concerns
  • School Personnel Information
  • Other Professional Information (including other agencies)

2. Determination of Eligibility
A student must meet the federal definition of disability and have an educational need for special education or related services.  At every ARD meeting, the student’s eligibility label is reviewed and/or determined for the record.  In this part of the meeting, often the Committee Chair will state that the student’s eligibility remains the same.  At some meetings, new evaluation information may have determined a new eligibility label for a student or it may have removed a label altogether.  For parents who have children with developmental disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism or Down Syndrome, it seems pointless to be reminded that your child still has the same disability, but remember that it is a requirement.  Also, despite having a “federally defined disability”, a student may not require special education or related services and therefore, eligibility may not be met (see  Diagnosis vs. Disability – Defining Eligibility).

3. Transition Planning
For children age 14 or older, transition services are a coordinated set of activities designed to help a child move from school to post-school activities.  A Transition Plan can be developed at an earlier age if the ARD committee determines it is needed.  Most typical students begin planning for their future high school and post secondary life in 7th grade.  For more information on Transition Planning, see the Texas Transition Network.

4. Review Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance
What is the student able to do now and how is that measured?    Present Levels, or Competencies, as they are called in some school districts, are linked to the child’s IEP goals and/or the curriculum.  In Texas, the state mandated curriculum used in public schools is called the TEKS, or The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.   You may find the TEKS at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=6148.  Present Levels must include how the disability affects involvement and progress in the general curriculum.

Areas that may be addressed in the present level discussion include:
  • Physical
  • Behavioral or Discipline
  • Health or Medical
  • Vocational
  • Academic
  • Language (including Limited English Proficiency)
  • Instruction in Braille
  • Communication Needs
  • Assistive Technology Needs
NOTE:  In some school districts, the Present Levels are listed in the beginning of the IEP, while in others they are listed at the top of each goal and objective page.
5. Individual Education Programs or Annual Goals
In this portion of the meeting, the ARD/IEP Committee reviews the previous goals and progress.  New measurable IEP goals are developed based on what the committee agrees the child should learn in the next year.  Annual goals should be designed to meet the child’s needs and enable them to make progress in the general curriculum.
  • Review previous IEPs and progress (Link to the Present Levels)
  • Discuss proposed IEPs
  • Discuss how progress will be measured and reported to the parents.
6. ARD/IEP Additional Considerations

a.  BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan)
Some students require the development of a Behavior Intervention Plan to address the prevention of undesirable behaviors that are due to their disability and to replace those behaviors with desired behaviors. The BIP must focus on Positive Behavior Supports and may include parent or in home training to assist the student in generalizing behaviors in all settings, including home.  The BIP is a part of the student’s IEP.
If a student is unable to follow the Student Code of Conduct due to the nature of their disability, a BIP should be developed.
b. Graduation
In Texas, there is one diploma.  Parents should ask their school district for their graduation policy and work with their ARD/IEP teams to determine the requirements necessary for graduation. Note: Senate Bill 673 allows students with disabilities to participate in graduation ceremonies after four years of high school even if they plan to stay in school longer. For more information on this process, see the Frequently Asked Questions on Senate Bill 673.
c. Considerations for Autism (AU) and Visual Impairment (VI)
In Texas, there are additional services and areas that need to be addressed for students with autism or visual impairments.  Most school districts have a separate form that is completed to address specific needs for these students.   Click here for more information on the Strategies for Consideration for students with Autism or the Visual Impairment Supplement.
d. Communication Needs and Deaf/Hard of Hearing needs
e. Language (Limited English proficiency)
f. Assistive Technology – Assistive Technology should be considered for all students receiving special education services. For more information, See AT Consideration.

7.  Modifications / Accommodations
A modification indicates that WHAT is being taught, the TEKS content, is being modified by either a change in what the student is expected to learn or reducing the concepts to be learned. A modification to the curriculum is usually indicated by IEP goals. 

An accommodation is a tool that provides equal access to students.  An accommodation indicates HOW the TEKS content will be taught, made accessible, or assessed. Accommodations can be used school wide to address the needs of all students. See Accommodation Resources on the Texas Education Agency website.

8.  State and District Assessments
At this time, the ARD committee will review which state or district tests are offered at the student’s grade level and then determine which assessment the student will participate in. The committee will also decide which accommodations or modifications, if any, will be used.  For more information on the Statewide Assessment process, see Statewide Assessments.

9. Consider Extended School Year (ESY) Services
For every student with a disability, the ARD committee should discuss whether there is a need for ESY services.  The need for Extended School Year services is not limited to categories or disabilities, and should be individualized. See the TEA Guidance Document at www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=2147500952

10 Related Services (Including Frequency (how often), Duration (amount of time) and Location of where services will be anticipated to be provided (Place). The purpose of related services is to support the students so that they benefit from their education. Related services include occupational and physical therapy, music therapy, orientation and mobility, and more.  Parents should note that the related services provided by schools are for educational benefit and do not address the medical needs of a child based on their disability. Parents should also ask if the service proposed is consultative or direct.  If the provider observes the student and gives a plan to the teacher to implement, that is consultative.  If the student receives services from the related service provider, that is a direct service.  See the TEA Related Service Guidance Document at www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=2147496881

11. Transportation Needs.  Separate transportation needs will be addressed if the student cannot ride the typical bus system due to disability, safety, communication, or additional supervision needs

12. Determine services to be provided
NOTE:  The determination by the ARD/IEP Committee of what services to provide are based on a number of factors, including assessment data, Present Levels, current IEPs and more.  The Committee has the responsibility of reviewing all data, both quantitative and qualitative, to develop an appropriate array of supports and services for each student.
  • Classes / Where provided.  The ARD/IEP Committee must always begin this discussion with the general education classroom, using the Least Restrictive Environment provision of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Coordination between Regular and Special Education. Students with disabilities often receive their education in the general education classroom.  While the general education teacher is responsible for instruction, special education personnel also provide support.  Parents should ask the school to describe the collaborative efforts of general and special education, including who is responsible for instruction, who is responsible for modifications, how grades are determined and any other questions pertinent to your child.
  • Grading.  The committee will determine how progress grades will be determined and document that here.
13. Determine Placement.
  • Placement is determined using the Least Restrictive Environment provisions in IDEA.  The ARD committee must specify the appropriate instructional arrangements/setting based on the child's individual needs and IEP from the following:  Mainstream, homebound, hospital class, speech therapy, resource room/services, self contained, off campus, non public day school, vocational adjustment classroom/program, state school, residential care and treatment facility.  Students who are deaf can be considered for education at the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf.
  • Removal from Home Campus.  Students should be educated on the same campus that they would attend if they did not have a disability.  If they are being removed from the home campus, the reason why will be documented here.
  • Date of Services.

14. Consider Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
In this section, the committee will discuss the services that have been tried, considered, and provided previously and whether they were successful or unsuccessful.  If any instructional arrangement was unsuccessful, the committee must decide why it didn’t work and note it in the minutes.  Also, the committee will discuss the reasons why a student needs to be educated outside of the regular ed. classroom.  

15. Assurances or Effects of Removal from the General Ed. Classroom
If a student is being removed from the general ed. classroom for any time during the day, the committee must state what effect, if any, it will have on the student.  Also the committee must document if the student will not be able to participate in other extracurricular or non-academic activities.
  • Consider Opportunity to Participate.  The IDEA assures students with disabilities that they will be able to participate in the same activities as their non-disabled peers and they may not be discriminated against based on their disability.
  • Consider Potential Harmful Effects.  Potential harmful effects must be discussed at the ARD/IEP meeting and typically include:  a lack of opportunity for appropriate role models, stigmatization, isolation from peers, decreased self esteem, decreased access to the instructional opportunities available in integrated settings, diminished access to full range of curriculum, lack of opportunity for social interaction and others.

16.  ARD Committee members sign in agreement or disagreement
NOTE:  ARD meetings can be overwhelming experiences for parents trying to make the right decision for their children.  Ask questions so that you are fully informed before making decisions.  Do not sign “agree” if you do not agree to the terms of the IEP.   A recess can always be called to give families (and/or schools) the opportunity to gather more information before making a final decision. This may also be a good time to request a Facitilitated IEP meeting.

If you and the school still cannot agree, the school must implement the IEP that it determines appropriate for your child. The school must give you prior written notice that this is what will happen. The reasons for your disagreement must be stated in the IEP. You may write your own statement about the disagreement, if you choose. If you cannot reach agreement, you may request a mediation, file a special education complaint with TEA, or ask for a due process hearing (Procedural Safeguards).

Additional Resources:

TEA Special Education Website

The Legal Framework for the Child-Centered Proces

US Dept of Education Guide to the Individualized Education Program

Texas Project FIRST The Special Education Process Step By Step

 

 


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