Are students Accountable for their I.E.P’s?

Each student in my class has an I.E.P…..

 It varies how long the students have had a formal identification and it varies what type of identification, although all of them are identified as “Gifted”.  During the first week of school, I began reviewing their files and updating their IEP’s, however, I struggled with this daunting task, since I barely knew the students.

In fact, most of their IEP’s looked closely to the same – the same modification (s) , the same accommodation (s), the same test results, the same strength and weaknesses. I

How could this be that they were all the same?  These documents, created on templates, with drop down menus were not telling of who these children are.

How I INVOLVE them (and make the entire process a bit more authentic)

1) Ask for Student Input when developing the IEP. Of course, this would depend on the age group and how you structure the questions and interviews.

Around the second week of school, I handed out the IEP’s to the students and had them go through and add, edit, and comment on each of the sections.  Most of them had neither see or heard of the “IEP” before so it took a bit of time to explain the terms (accomodations, modification, strategies, methods).

2) Meet with the students individually and go through the IEP’s with them explaining how and why this document came to be.  Help them understand their own identification and what they need to best succeed.

During the first month of school students did research on their own exceptionality. Many of the students wrote blogs about what it means to be “Gifted” or as they often see it, “Labelled”. One student (Nicola) writes,

“Those who are deemed gifted still need support; they need to feel like they are not the only ones with this label. Remember, never judge a book by its cover. Anyone can change the world, whether they passed a test or not. Everyone is equal, and that’s what’s most important to know. Like I said, to be gifted can mean a bunch of things. What does it mean to you?

3)  Set aside time for students to continually develop and alter their own programs. Don’t let this be a “one off” lesson. Build this into a weekly plan. Build it around their Learning Skills.

We do this every week with tea.  We try to discuss one area of need or learning skill. What does it mean to be responsible? How much independence should students have at what age? What is fair and equal when it comes to learning? How to advocate and ask for feedback.

4) Provide a organized system for students to view and edit their IEP’s as needed.  Of course, since some parts of this document may be highly confidential, the template would need to be altered.



5) When updating the IEP’s each term, send home the “working copy” along with the formal copy to allow the parents and families to see how much student input is valued

 This IEP development strategy takes a lot of trust and relationship building to work. Students need to feel safe and free to express their honest feelings and advocate for themselves. One students said to me after reading his IEP, “Wow, I sound like an anti-social nerd that has no friends”.


After implementing this student centered strategy with the students in a self-contained gifted classroom, I wonder if a similar strategy would work with NON identified students. Since we know that all students work better when they have input and when they are engaged in their own learning goals, then couldn’t we implement this in a regular classroom as well? I also wonder, at what ages this would work best? Students are very self-aware at the Middle School level  which certainly makes sense to have them identify their own strengths and weaknesses. How could their other teachers be involved in this process? Will they have input as they travel into other grades? I wonder.


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3 Replies to “Are students Accountable for their I.E.P’s?”

  1. Pingback: This Week in Ontario Edublogs | doug --- off the record

  2. Zoe, I read this post a while ago and have been thinking about it a lot recently. I love what you’ve done with your class, and I really appreciate you sharing how you’ve had your students take some ownership, control, and accountability over their IEPs.

    As a teacher that teaches many students on IEPs, but not a whole class full of students on IEPs, I’m looking for some suggestions here:

    1) How could this system be used in a regular classroom? What changes would you make to how you do this (in terms of involving the necessary students, but also being cognisant of the students not on IEPs)?

    2) What would you do about students that are unaware that they are on IEPs (and whose parents do not want them to know this information yet)?

    3) How do you involve parents in this process? Should this be done separately or in conjunction with students?

    I would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!

  3. This is a great idea, Zoe! And, as Aviva points out, could have barriers -students who don’t know they have an identification and parents who don’t want their kids to know- I’ve encountered both and as you know, I’m SERT at a high school. I also have to think that an identification of ‘gifted’ has a different impact and indeed, connotation, than one of having a “Learning Disability” or “Mild Intellectual Disability”. I have been at the meetings where the psych assessment w/diagnosis is being unvelied to parent and child for the first time. There are often tears – as your students said, a label is a label and seems to be bad. What I do is I meet individually with all of the students, starting with grade 9’s and new students b/c I don’t know them as well. We work through the previous IEP, or the recommendations on the assessments, keeping and rejecting as necessary. There is a spot on the IEP for “Developed by …” and Student is an option. I then spend the semester/year monitoring and checking in with each student. The dialogues take many forms and interesting and informative, and by all/most accounts, appreciated.

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