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Requesting an IEP
Q: What exactly is an Individual Education Plan, how does it work, and how do I go about getting one set up for my son next year? He is failing 8th grade.
A: You cannot get an Individual Education Plan just because you want one and you also cannot get one just because your son is failing 8th grade.
An Individual Education Plan, or an IEP as it is frequently called, is something that is put in place by a team of individuals that includes parents, teachers, test evaluators, and other involved people who work with the student. It is part of a federal government program that helps students who have some sort of learning disability. The disability can be physical or emotional, or it can be something as specific as a reading problem. The IEP puts in writing what kind of plan will help the student. There are periodic evaluations and meetings to measure the success of the IEP. If the child changes schools, the IEP 'goes' with her. It is a government program and does involve a lot of paper work, but it has benefited many, many children and is well worth the time and effort involved.
If you think that your child has failed eigth grade but has studied hard, by all means contact the school. Ask for a meeting, and bring your son along to discuss what the problem may be. There may or may not be a reason to consider a learning disability. If there is, testing will be one of the first steps.
Good luck and stay involved. Your son needs your help.
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After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.