One week after my meeting with the school Administrator, my husband and I went to Kate's school for the IEP Meeting which we requested.
We both were prepared for this meeting, and we knew what we wanted.
They want to mainstream Kaitlyn in the near future and we want to mainstream her, too.
But for it to be a successful mainstream, there would have to be major changes enacted now.
The meeting started promptly at 9:00am, and everyone whom we invited was in attendance.
I had my notes ready.
I was in no mood for idle chit-chat...I was all business this morning.
The team began talking about how Kaitlyn was doing that year, both in the self-contained setting as well as in the general education setting.
It was the usual run-of-the-mill portion of the meeting.
Fortunately, Kaitlyn's general ed 1st grade teacher was there, too.
I immediately focused my first question at her: "How is Kaitlyn doing in comparison to the other children in your classroom? "
The teacher is so pleasant, and we really like her.
Kaitlyn enjoys going into her classroom, and I know that she is learning in that setting.
She seems very genuine, not wishy-washy or tried telling us fluffy stories about Kaitlyn.
She knows her job.
She knows my daughter.
And because of that, I pounced:
*How is Kaitlyn in your classroom?
*Does she require a lot of redirection?
*Does she appear "lost" in your classroom?
*How much does she rely on you for guidance?
*How much does she rely on the adult from the self-contained classroom as an aide?
*Does she talk in class?
*Will she respond to your questions?
*Where does she sit in class?
*Is she easily distracted?
*Does she interact with other students in class?
*Does she know the routine?
Yes, I may be a nurse, but today I felt like a prosecuting attorney.
Question after question after question, I kept firing: just give me a straight answer...no fluff.
With her eyes wide open, I don't think the teacher expected that sort of drilling, but she answered every question without hesitation.
She didn't know what I was going to ask her.
She couldn't prepare her answers in advance.
This is one great teacher!
In her classroom setting, she knows my Kaitlyn very well.
Kaitlyn currently spends 52% of her day in the gen ed setting.
Unfortunately, numbers and percentages appear to be a big deal in the school district since they are used all over her IEP. But once a child spends 60% or more of their day in a gen ed setting, it is time for them to become an official member of that setting.
My final question to her: "Can my daughter function in your classroom independently?"
Her response: "She would need an aide."
In front of six other school personnel, she said what I wanted to hear: Kaitlyn would need an aide.
No one can argue that they didn't hear her say that.
Now, just to clarify...I am not saying that having an aide with Kaitlyn will make her academically successful.
Her current classroom setting in getting too restrictive (don't want that, do we?), but putting her alone in a gen ed setting and she would get lost.
I do not want to teach her "learned dependence".
I want her to succeed on her own.
But in the meantime, the assistance of an aide will achieve that goal.
It would be impossible for a classroom teacher to do this on her own with 20-25 other students in the room.
That would not be fair to Kaitlyn, to the teacher, or to the other students.
The teacher looked relieved when I looked to the Supervisor to move on to the next section of the meeting.
As we went through each of the goals and benchmarks that we had concerns with, most of our requests were granted:
***Benchmark percentages were changed from 50-70% to 70-90% accuracy.
***Sight word lists were increased to reflect the general ed expectations.
***Numbers for adding were increased.
***CVC word combinations and approaches were changed.
***Separate phonemic awareness goals were added
***Phonics goals were added.
***Changes to wh-question forms were made
As for accommodations, this is what was added (with some demanding for a few on my part):
***Seating near competent peer during general education
***Opportunities for phonemic awareness throughout the day
***Vertical board for reading
***Use of specific research-based reading materials/programs added
***Reading Interventionist to consult with team and evaluate.
ESY goals were adjusted as well to reflect these changes.
The meeting lasted just over 75 minutes.
I accomplished what I wanted: an appropriate IEP, specific to my daughter, utilizing her strengths to build on her weaknesses.
THAT is what her IEP should look like.
Look out mainstream...we're on the right track now!