Friday, November 14, 2008


IEPS, the things special education teachers spend hour upon hour working on.

IEPs, Individual Education Plans--at least 12 of my geometry students have them.

IEPs, things I have never looked at and have no plans to look at.

IEPs, things I have no time to look at.

IEPs, time that could be better spent helping the students.


NYC Educator said...

When I taught special ed., some woman from the Board came and told us to pick two goals for each student, the same two pretty much no matter what. I couldn't believe she was saying this aloud, had no training whatsoever in special ed, and no instructions either than these.

It was surreal.

Profesora de espaƱol said...

At our parent-teacher conferences, a mother handed me her son's 504 plan. I looked through it, handed it back to her, and said, "None of this applies to my class. Your son just doesn't do his homework." She tried to argue that he may not understand it, but kids who do not understand homework do not get A's and B's on their tests/quizzes. He doesn't need a 504 or IEP. He needs to stop being so lazy and do his homework!

IEPs and 504s are generally a waste of time and a parent's way of enabling his/her child. (Obviously excluding those children that REALLY have issues.)

mathmom said...

Ok, now *I'm* pissed off. >:(

If someone has taken the time to identify a student's learning differences, and identify strategies to help them succeed, don't you think you owe it to your students to at least read the document and see what you can do to help them succeed.

I'm sure some things in IEPs are unreasonable. I'm sure even some entire IEPs are unreasonable. But some are both reasonable and necessary. How you can tell which is which without looking at them is beyond me. You say the time would be better spent helping the student. You can help the student by reading and following his IEP.

If you were my kid's teacher, you would read his IEP. And you would follow it to the extent that would be reasonable for your class. Because following it would ultimately take less time than all the meetings I'd be calling with you and the administration if you didn't follow it.

I have 3 children. All of them high honors level. One of them requires an IEP. And it damn well better be followed.

Pissed Off said...

All my special education students get the extended time they are entitled to, the different location, if they wish it and the reader or writer if it is on their IEP. I never deny them services. In fact, I encourage them to take advantage of what they are allowed.

But, I have 34 kids in a class and teach 6 classes. There is no way I can read these documents. And, there is no way I can provide them with individual help. Reading a paper is meaningless. Helping them is valuable. I'm sorry if you misinterpreted my lack of caring for these papers with lack of caring for your child. As a mainstream teacher, the services I mentioned are the only ones that affect me. Soemone else must provide reading, writing, location. I don't need to read an IEP to do this. Knowing a kid is in resource room, special ed or has a 504 is all the information I need. So, in answer, even if your child was in my class, I would not read his IEP.

The Bus Driver said...

ha... i cant tell you how much i totally agree with this statement. When i was in school, i had an IEP and recieved sped services. I had friends who were also recieving the same help i was, and were just using it as an excuse NOT to do work.

I refused to go to my own IEP meetings because i didnt want to miss class. The times i HAD to go, i was superbly pissed off because i actually gave a damn about my education.

mathmom said...

Well, fine, if you know what's in their IEP without reading it, and provide them with the appropriate accommodations, that's great.

Sometimes a child needs other accommodations than those that you listed. Sometimes it is a very simple thing that a teacher can do, that doesn't take any extra time or interfere with the learning experiences of the other students. It might take time to read the paperwork, but knowing how best to handle and teach the child will reap greater rewards and save time in the long run. If you understand something about how a child learns (and how they don't learn), then you can teach them more effectively by using strategies that are likely to work.

Obviously in a class of 30+ students, you can't cater to each of them all the time, but if a student asks a question or comes in for extra help, you will be more effective if you know something about their learning differences.

You don't really have to read the entire document to learn this. A lot of it is devoted to how they proved that the child needed an IEP to begin with. If you skip to the juicy parts, you can probably learn what you need to know in a minute or two per student.

You're busy, I get that. You still have an obligation to be aware of the parts of a student's IEP that impact his participation in your class.

Anonymous said...

It is simply a zero-sum game math mom. Not enough time to do it all. If pissed-off teacher had smaller classes or less of them there moght be time to do it all. But, lacking those resources she has to do the best she can with the time she can. She is is only doing what we all do vis a vis IEPs...thank her for the honesty of telling you.

hobbitt said...

Wow! you just have 12.

Granted your classes are larger. Our poor biology teacher had 10 in one class.

I agree IEP really don't help. "extra time, modified assignments..." since we have to document that we did modify my lesson plans had a check list at the bottom with a summation of the mods, I'd just check the one appropriate for the students in the class and they'd be right there for me to see.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

I am a Special Education teacher and I can tell you that you should read the IEP. I have spent hours writing the the dam things and dam it you will read it!

Seriously, it is the responsibility of the adminstration to provide with copies of the dam thing for you to have in a secure place in your classroom. A well written IEP contains not only academic information on the child but health alerts that you may need to know like what medication he or she may be on which will of course effect his or her performance in your classroom. A well written IEP can give you insights into the child's personality and get you to understand him or her better. A well written IEP should contain a behavorial intervention plan that could help if the child is acting out in your classroom. Finally, an IEP that is well written and complete is just another tool in your teaching arsnal to help the special needs children in your classes.

Since most IEPs are badly written and incomplete and the adminstration violates Federal law by not providing them to the teacher and you have oversized classes which prevents you from individualizing instruction and you have the pressure of getting your students to perform on the state's Regents which prevents you from looking at new ways to present the material to accomdate different learning styles--NEVER MIND! JUST THOW THE IEPs into a file draw and let them gather dust like everybody else does including the teachers of self-contained Spec Ed classes with 15 students in the class and a paraprofessional. I know I have 20years experience.

On sabbatical from "teacher death row" this is....

Pissed Off said...

I'm sorry mathmom but I have 34 students in each class and I am getting paid to help them all equally.

I don't think the IEP's are written with as much insight as you say. Our spepeical education teachers are overwhelmed. They have ahuge amount of paperwork and many times the IEP is completed just to be completed. There is nothing meaningful on them.

As for keeping a set in the classroom, I teach in multiple rooms and have no place to leave anything. The one time I left book receipts in a room, they were gone the next day. When the class ends, I leave that room so if I need to refer to something in that room, too bad. Besides, I don't have time to take out a sheet of paper to look at during class.

The psycho doc who evaluates kids in my school meets with them for around 1 hour and then he draws conclusions. He does not really know them or their disabilities. Years ago, I taught special ed and went to IEP conferences with him. We had major fights because he would not give the child services I knew were needed. Nothing he writes will help your child.

I don't know where you live but hopefully things are done differently in your schools. If these documents contained anything valuable I would use them.

As for helping yuor child, I would rather have a 5 minute phone call with you where you could tell me any relevant information than spend 40 minutes searching for some stupid piece of paper. (And I ahve had many of those conversations.)

mathmom said...

Since you're *not* my kid's teacher, I'm not going to waste any more time arguing about this.

But the claim that you're paid to help all students equally is a bit of a stretch. Some students always require and receive more attention from any teacher than others. My older and younger son, who catch on the first time something is taught and who have no disabilities, and who are generally cooperative, get way less than 1/34 of their teachers' time. My middle son will need more, and getting what he needs is his right under federal law. You are paid to *meet the needs* of all your students. I know from reading here that you put extra effort into helping and trying to get help for students in need of extra attention.

In any state, a parent who knows their child's rights can ensure that the child's IEP is a meaningful and useful document. Maybe the IEPs at your school are all meaningless and useless, though I'm not sure how you figured that out without reading them.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I was never, ever included in any of my student's IEPs nor was I ever given a copy. However I was asked to supply my signature to many documents I never read which I
thought was unfair. I was also asked to be part of a student's follow-up appointment with the parent and SETTS teacher which of course I attended.

It's one thing if I refer a child, but when I receive a child with an IEP, I think it should be shared because I may or may not agree with the findings.

As for 504's...many parents have been abusing them so their kid can get extra time on tests including the SATs.

I can only speak on the Elementary level where a teacher can find time to work with each student if the class is a manageable size. However, I can see where HS would be difficult since you are not with the same students all day long.


Pissed Off said...

Mathmom--in an ideal world you are right.

In my world you make due with what you ahve.

My AP Calculus students are all honor students but sometimes they need extra help too (lots of days they do) and they are entitled to the extra help too. I would never put one kid above another. There are just so many minutes in a day.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

BTW Pissed I agree with everything you say. In our neck of the woods the IEP is worthless being that the DOE is out of compliance with state and federal mandates to serve these children.

We work in the jungle!!!!

mathmom said...

I don't mean to be judgmental. But surely you spend extra time on various students when they need it whether it's extra help in a class, or a letter of recommendation for college (which take up a huge amount of time, I know), or a problem at home that you need to know about to understand what's going on with your student. So, I really don't "get" why you won't spend 2 minutes to scan a student's IEP and figure out if there's anything there you need to spend more time reviewing. (Yes, I do realize that 2 minutes times scores of students on IEPs adds up to some real time.)

Many students need extra attention at different times and in different ways.

Mamacita (Mamacita) said...

Regarding your post, your opinion, your situation, your attitude, and your entire philosophy of education, well, all I can say is. . . .

AMEN. Bloody frickin' AMEN.

And I mean that religiously as well as merely an enthusiastic agreement.

And I say this with 26 years' worth of experience in a middle school classroom (grades 6, 7, & 8), with 7 academic classes daily each of which had 38 or more students. One year, I had a class of 46 non-participatory boys. In each of these large classes, AT LEAST 12 students had IEP's. I did the best I could, but what was I supposed to do? Say things like "Open your books to page 15. Not you. Here are the notes for the assigned novel. The rest of you have to make your own." "Pick any one of the five topics, and write a two-page paragraph stating your opinion about it. Except for you five. You only have to write two sentences."

I keep remembering the words of the woman from the State who came down to talk to us about inclusion, years ago. She said, and I quote:

"When you teach your basic students about how to measure the angles of a triangle, you can, at the same time, be explaining to your included students what a triangle IS!"

Like THAT'S going to happen.

In a class of 38 13-17-year-olds, with no aide, a teacher does the best she/he can. Period. Parents who require special treatment for their kids are going to have to understand that there are only so many hours in a day, and only so much one person can do. I refuse to ignore 31 students because 8 students have IEP's that mandate one-on-one instruction. In most classrooms, that's just not possible. Have pity on us. Walk in our shoes.

I am only one person, and I have only two arms. I can't give forty kids x seven periods x five days a week individualized instruction within the classroom. After school, even staying until five or six o'clock, I couldn't do it all. I don't think you could, either, mathmom. Nor could any other ONE person.

Social Studies LI said...

Math mom - do you realize how many tasks are vital and how often one might have to read and reread IEPs? The beauty of PO'd blog is that she is telling you how it really is. I teach social studies and out of the 120 teachers in my school I would say about one tenth read the IEPs one time and zero tenths remember the details beyond extended time or scribe instructions. Again, I would say this is how it is. If there was an IEP period each day or even every other day for reviewing and relearning the 35 so IEPs I have no doubt teachers would be happy to do it. The problem is that over the years more and more demands have been made on teachers' time and less and less time made available to fulfill the demands. Important and valuable tasks are left undone. As I noted before it is a zero sum game. I am sure PO does not have nap time or poker time at work so time spent on one important task is less time for another important task. Teachers have to make choices on how they spend their time. In my school we bounce from classroom to classroom and have one frantic prep and one additional lunch that becomes a frantic prep period. As a parent myself I recognize that my dreams of individualized instruction may remain unrealized.
P.O.T. this is the best blog I have ever read. I teach on Long Island and we have many of the same issues. Plus the wry humor is priceless.

Callie said...

Heh, I've been teaching since 1997 and I have yet to see an IEP. Of course, I'm "just" the music teacher, so it probably "doesn't matter". I see anywhere from 450-650 students a week (depending on if our school is overcrowded that year or not, and it usually is) and I bet at least a fifth of them have IEPs but I have yet to see one. We aren't told anything. I didn't even know I had a student with life threatening asthma attacks until he had an attack in my room and could not breathe. He ended up going to the hospital! And no one told me. You better believe if my kid had severe health issues I would personally make sure all his teachers know and not depend on "someone" to tell everyone!

Oh, well.

Pissed Off said...

Kids without IEPs ahve severe health issues too. I had a kid with diabetes a few years ago who passed out in my class. It really sucked trying to get her help as it was late in the day and almost everyone was home by then.

kherbert said...

I have 650* students give or take a few. The stack of yellow folders (IEP's and BIP's) and orange folders (504's) in my closet is very high - and I read them because I don't sign off on legal papers that I don't read.

Our IEP's are easy to read - because they are basically check list. Most of the accommodations are things that will help all learners - so I teach them all how to change the font type or color. We all learn how to use narrator and speech recognition.

Pissed Off said...

I'm jealous--yuo have a closet!

We don't have to sign off on IEPs. I would never sign what I did not read.

lgm said...

mamacita, as a parent of a reg. ed. student who got stuck in mainstreamed for third & fifth grades, all I can say is Right On!

It took me three years of tutoring to make up for the twiddling my child was encouraged to do in mainstreaming, while the IEP'd were given three teachers each to help them (classroom, 1:1 aide, resource specialist) and my child wasn't allowed to do anything but twiddle, read or color & draw while the IEP'd were receiving extra help. The grade level math curriculum was not taught - the entire year each time was a repeat of basic skills from prior grades to benefit the IEP'd who had not acheived mastery.

What a crock, all in the name of 'fairness'. Fairness, in my book, is that EVERYONE learns from the lesson, not some learn and others twiddle for years waiting for the included to receive 'extra help' to catch up.

Anonymous said...

When I was a teacher, I never read IEPs..... because the Child Study Team refused to share them with us. According to them, allowing us teachers to read them could cause a breach of confidentiality. It was perfectly acceptable, however, to leave copies of 504's in our open mailboxes in the main office. Go figure!