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Students write their own IEPs.

"I Wrote My Own IEP"

Why some schools are pushing students to get involved in the IEP process.

Anyone who's ever been in an IEP meeting knows they involve dozens of forms and faces around the table. One face that is often conspicuously absent, however, is that of the IEP recipient herself. "Our meetings have no kid involvement at all," wrote one teacher on the Scholastic Teachers Facebook page. Research confirms she is not alone in her concerns. While student involvement is mandatory under the idea act, up to a third of schools never invite students to IEP meetings. Other schools have students sign off on IEPs as a formality, without genuinely considering children's input. The idea of a student-led IEP is so foreign amid all the red tape that another Facebook poster wondered, "Would a student-led IEP be legal?" The answer, of course, is that student-led IEPs are not only legal, but desirable; some studies corroborate the value of student involvement—including the feeling of ownership and the increased likelihood that a child will meet the benchmarks set out in his or her plan. Several products now exist to help guide educators and families through a process in which students take the lead, including Excent's My Graduation Plan and numerous books and videos. One technique uses the acronym iplan as an outline for students to follow: inventory your strengths; provide this information to the adults involved in planning; listen; ask questions; and name your goals. For Tennessee teacher Rebecca Ullery, including students is a no-brainer. "An IEP is to be written by a team," she says, "not just one person. And the student is part of the team."

SPECIAL EDUCATION ROUNDUP

Increase in Special Ed Litigation
There are more education court decisions than ever, according to recent research. There were 8,000 decisions between 2000 and 2010, with special ed cases nearly doubling since the 1990s.

Fewer Mentors in Special Ed
A new study confirms what some teachers have long grumbled about-those who teach special education have less access to professional mentors than teachers in the regular classroom. While 85 percent of regular teachers say they have a mentor, only 64 percent of special ed teachers do. The discrepancy may be due to broader job responsibilities.

Autism More Prevalent in Immigrant Kids?
The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health will research the incidence of autism in Minneapolis's Somali community, after parents and advocacy groups said children there were being diagnosed at a higher-than-average rate. Researchers will consider immigration and nutrition. 

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