Q: I requested that a student be evaluated for an individualized education plan. However, the IEP that came back doesn’t seem to address the difficulties she’s having in class. What can I do? 

A: It’s great that you’ve reviewed the IEP carefully. Unfortunately, your concerns haven’t been translated into appropriate goals, or the services you were expecting to see recommended were not.

Review the goals that have been developed and come up with alternatives to suggest to the IEP team. Keep your goals specific, observable, and measurable. That way, everyone will be able to assess the student’s progress.

Meet with a representative from the IEP team, such as the school psychologist, who can explain the rationale for the decisions that were made. If you still have concerns, request that the team meet to revise the IEP. Meetings typically happen annually or if new information like testing results becomes available, but IDEA regulations indicate that as many meetings can take place as are necessary to meet a child’s needs.

At the meeting, advocate for your position. Make it clear you want to be part of all subsequent meetings. That way, your input can be considered from the outset in all further updates to the IEP.

Q:  My student’s older brother regularly outshines him. What can I do to boost his confidence?

A: First, help identify what your student excels in, whether it’s an academic subject, an extracurricular activity, or a hobby. Try to find activities or subject areas that are unique from those his brother does well in. He may not have found his niche yet, and you can play a key role in this exploration.

Try also to highlight your student’s day-to-day strengths and positive actions. Maybe he is particularly thoughtful with friends or puts extra effort into organizing his work. Be sure to leave out references to his brother as you encourage him.

Share your positive feedback with your student’s parents. They can then echo your pride in him at home. Also, encourage them to coach their older son in humility and sensitivity toward his younger brother.

Finally, model tolerance. Encourage your student to cheer his brother on and to feel proud of him. You can minimize competition by helping your student think of his brother as a role model rather than as an opponent. 


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Image: Adam Chinitz