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When we met with the IEP team, we were told that our son can only have four IEP goals (he has 10 goals in his present IEP). Is this true? Is there a maximum number of IEP goals?
Also, they wanted us to write a "5 year vision statement" for our son during this meeting. We asked for more time because we needed to give this some thought. We'll be lucky if we can come up with a one year vision statement! Is this a new part of the law? How do you write a vision statement? We don't know where to begin.
You have two questions: Are there limits on IEP goals? How should you approach long-term planning?
on IEP Goals
YOU need to find out what the law says about your issue. YOU need to learn how to find answers to your legal questions. YOU need to read the special education statute and regulations.
We know many parents are intimidated by the law. We've worked with thousands of parents in training sessions. Although these parents were intimidated too, they learned to find answers to their questions in the statute and regulations. You can do it too!
If you don't learn how to find answers to questions, you'll continue to be dependent on school personnel for legal information and advice. Many school people don't know what the law says -- the advice they give is based on something they heard at a conference or read in an article. School staff need to read the law too!
what the law and regulations say about IEP goals in Wrightslaw:
Special Education Law. Get a copy of your state special education regulations. While you can probably
download the regulations from the Internet, you need a hard copy of your
state regulations too - you can underline, mark up, highlight, and dog-ear
your personal copy of your state regs.
Your second question is about long-term planning.
There is nothing in the federal statute or regulations about "5 year plans" or vision statements. We suggest you ask your team about the purpose of the vision statement. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make long-term plans for your child - this is not the school's responsibility.
Would you build a house without a blueprint?
Would you start a new business without a business plan?
Would your raise a child with a disability without a master plan?
This year, millions of children with disabilities will spend hundreds of millions of hours in special education classes – with no master plans. There has to be a better way to tackle the job of educating children with disabilities.
Have we sold you on the importance of a master plan? Good!
Our new book - Wrightslaw: The Complete Guide to Special Education Advocacy - will include a chapter about master plans. (The Complete Guide will be published in the spring or early summer.)
Develop Your Master Plan
Raising children is hard work. If you have a child with a disability, you’ll work harder and longer. We want to teach you to “work smarter.” One way to “work smarter” is to use a master plan.
When you have a child with a disability, you're dealing with insurance companies and schools, negotiating with your employer and co-workers for time off, responding to the needs of other family members, and dealing with unexpected emergencies and crises. As outside demands increase, your stress level increases too. It’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of what’s important.
A master plan will help you stay focused on what's important. Your master plan should be:
Parents need to think about long-term plans. What are your long-term goals for your child? What do you want your child to be able to do when he or she leaves the public school system? What steps do you need to take to help your child meet these goals?
The IEP is not a long-term plan. The IEP includes annual goals and short-term objectives that address your child’s needs that result from the disability. The IEP focuses on your child’s educational needs now, in the present. The IEP document commits the school district to provide agreed-upon services for a period of one year or less.
Components of a Master Plan
Regardless of purpose, master plans include similar elements: a vision statement, a mission statement, goals, strategies, and timelines.
Vision Statement - The vision statement is a visual picture that describes your child in the future.
Mission Statement - The mission statement is your personal statement that describes the reasons you are advocating for your child. Your mission statement reflects your emotional commitment and passion.
Goals - Goals make
you stretch, help you focus when you lose perspective, give you direction,
and help you to do a good job. When you write goals, you think about what
you need to do to accomplish the goals. Your master plan should include
academic and non-academic goals.
What do you expect your child to learn this year? Next year?
What do you expect your child to learn by the time he or she moves to the next academic level? What do you expect your child to learn by the time he or she leaves the public education system?
Give thought to non-academic goals -- hobbies, sports, friendships. Many children with disabilities do not feel good about school - they do not "excel" in school. It's important for children to pursue interests and activities away from school - where they can learn about their abilities.
Strategies - Strategies are your roadmap. Strategies help you anticipate obstacles and problems.
Timeframes - Timeframes are statements about what actions need to be completed and when.
to learn how to plan - this isn't a revolutionary concept. You will learn
how to plan for the future in Wrightslaw:
From Emotions to Advocacy (Chapter 2).