Why Do Schools Resist Writing Methodology into IEPs?

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Our child has a learning disability and has difficulty reading, writing & spelling. Nobody at the school understands dyslexia or how desperate our child is.

We want multi-sensory learning like an Orton Gillingham approach. The school said they get to choose any curriculum/methodology at their sole discretion.

Why do schools resist writing methodology into IEPs? Why does the state DOE go along?

First, schools do not want to comply with parents’ requests because they do not want parents telling them what to do. If a parent can request a specific program, and it is written into the IEP, the school has to provide it.

In many cases, schools do not have teachers who are adequately trained to implement these programs.

In other words, the school is not withholding a good program. The school does not have a good program that can be implemented by well-trained staff.

It isn’t only about methodology, it is about finding someone who is trained, certified and can implement a program with fidelity. Schools say they have too many kids on their caseloads and don’t have trained staff.

School administrators do not want to force teachers to get training in research based programs because they are afraid teachers will get angry and /or quit or that this will violate union rules.

Even if the teachers ARE willing to get quality training in a specific methodology (to use your examples, Wilson, Lips, OG), it is expensive and time-consuming.

Methodology is Vitally Important

The law does not require your child’s IEP to include educational methodology.

By including frequent references to the need to use scientific, research based instruction and interventions, Congress clarified that methodology is vitally important. (20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)(1)(A) Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition)

Commentary to the Federal Regulations  p. 46665

The position of the US Department of Education is that including methodology in a child’s IEP is an IEP team decision. If the team decides your child need a specific instructional method to receive FAPE, the methodology should be included in he IEP.

In light of the legislative history and case law, it is clear that in developing an individualized education there are circumstances in which the particular teaching methodology that will be used is an integral part of what is ‘individualized’ about a student’s education and, in those circumstances will need to be discussed at the IEP meeting and incorporated into the student’s IEP.

Read Methodology in the IEP by Pam Wright and Suzanne Whitney. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/iep.methodology.htm

In 10 Tips: How to Use IDEA 2004 to Improve Your Child’s Special Education Parent Attorney Wayne Steedman says “Congress found that implementation of IDEA “has been impeded by the failure of schools to apply replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning.

Reviewing the research and using proven methods of teaching and learning will determine the interventions and instructional methods that are most likely to provide your child with educational benefit.

School officials often refuse to write educational methodologies into the IEP. They argue that teachers should be free to use an “eclectic approach” to educating children with disabilities, and should not be forced to use any specific methodology.

Congress rejected this practice when they reauthorized IDEA 2004 – a win, win situation for all – especially for children who will benefit when they receive effective instruction from teachers who are trained in research-based instructional methods.


Find out more about methodology in the IEP in Chapter 6 of Wrightslaw: All About IEPs. https://www.wrightslaw.com/store/aaieps.html

  1. The problem isn’t with the districts or the teachers. Districts and teachers want students to succeed. I know. I am a special education teacher who has taken the time at my own expense to get Orton-Gillingham training. On top of that, my district will be sending me to Wilson training this summer.
    The problem is colleges are required to train mild-moderate special teachers ed teachers to address a very wide range of disabilities including autism, emotional disturbances, other health impairments, etc, along with learning disabilities and as a result their training is a mile wide and an inch deep. After paying for a college degree it is very expensive to go for additional training; therefore teacher training programs need to place more emphasis on teaching reading.

  2. Methodology is not written in IEPs at my school; however, self-contained teachers have some materials from the Wilson’s program to utilize as a resource for their students. Some teachers received training about the Wilson’s program, but the problem is that all the necessary materials have not been provided for teachers which impedes on their ability to effectively deliver instruction in their classrooms. Orders have been placed by teachers. However, they have not received all of the necessary materials. This issue has been brought to my principal who states that the matter is beyond her control. She submits supply orders to the child study team director, since there is no special education supervisor currently working within my district. As we all know, programs can not be effectively implemented without all materials necessary.

    I want to point out that some methodologies like Wilson, which the school intially used with my child, does not require training before it is sold to a school district. I found this out after calling Wilson publishers. Training is strongly recommended by Wilson but the bundled package will be sold to the school district regardless if training takes place or not. Literacy consultants are always available for consult by phone by Wilson. Some school districts take advantage of the three day training that Wilson provides but it is not the official Wilson certification program. My child had a committed staff member who fully implemented Wilson. She was not Wilson certified but did a great job. He made progress. Parents should contact the publishers of any reading program to get the specifics.

  4. I would like to see as a part of any child’s IEP a history of methodologies used – especially for reading instruction – including dates and # of hours or minutes per week on specialized instruction, along with start/end performance. That way, when a child gets a new teacher or moves to another school, there would be some clues as to what has been tried and worked/didn’t work in the past.

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