You, as parents, know your child best.
You are the ones who can speak most
effectively on your child’s behalf in order
to secure his or her educational rights
under the laws. Your knowledge of the
school system’s procedures, as well as
state and federal laws and related
regulations, is essential to becoming
effective advocates.

You, as parents, know your child best.
You are the ones who can speak most
effectively on your child’s behalf in order
to secure his or her educational rights
under the laws. Your knowledge of the
school system’s procedures, as well as
state and federal laws and related
regulations, is essential to becoming
effective advocates.

You, as parents, know your child best.
You are the ones who can speak most
effectively on your child’s behalf in order
to secure his or her educational rights
under the laws. Your knowledge of the
school system’s procedures, as well as
state and federal laws and related
regulations, is essential to becoming
effective advocates.

Best Practices

✓ Talk to your child: find out how he or she feels about school, as well as his or her likes and dislikes.

✓ Speak with your child’s teachers: find out if your child is having difficulty with homework, is unable to complete work independently, begins but can’t complete assignments, or has difficulty recalling the related instruction during the school day.

✓ Observe and listen to your child at home: does he or she complain about physical illnesses or invent excuses in order to stay home from school?

✓ Does your child have friends and maintain friendships?

✓ Does your child talk about or know the names of classmates?

✓ Does your child only use negative comments when talking about school?

✓ Develop a profile of your child to share with the school staff.

✓ Get organized!

✓ Start a home file to include an accurate journal of meetings, phone calls, letters, etc.

✓ Put every request, concern and objection inwriting to all involved.

✓ Compile a binder with tabs for evaluations, IEPs, samples of current performance (such as writing samples, classroom tests, projects, activities and homework) and written communications. Include a chart listing all evaluations by date, evaluator, test given, major areas of concern and recommendations.

✓ Make two copies of all evaluations/reports, one to keep as an original and one to use as a working copy.

✓ Be sure to bring this file with you to all meetings regarding your child.

The Evaluation/Recommendations Process

✓ What is the purpose of each evaluation? Why is it being given?

✓ What areas will be evaluated? What information will be gained?

✓ What specific tests or portions of tests will be used and why?

✓ Whether you, as parents, or the district initiates an evaluation, be familiar with the qualifications of the evaluator. Get recommendations from people you respect before deciding whom to use.

✓ Does the evaluation need to be modified/adapted to compensate for your child’s suspected disability?

✓ Are these evaluations administered in a language and form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally and functionally?

✓ When reviewing an evaluation, ask yourself, “Does this sound like my child?” “How does this compare with other evaluations?” “What is getting in the way of my child being able to learn?” “How does this impact my child’s ability to be successful in school?”

✓ To ensure your understanding, get a copy of the evaluations and recommendations and discuss them with evaluators prior to the PPT meeting. It is helpful if the evaluator attends the PPT meeting and discusses and advocates for his or her own report with the team.

✓ If the district pays for the evaluation, it becomes the property of the district. If you pay for it, it is your property, and the results need not be shared with the school-based team. If you share the evaluation with the team, the team must “consider” the results and recommendations, and it becomes part of your child’s educational records.

✓ If new to a school system, consider informing your child’s school of past evaluations, services and supports, for example, therapies, counseling, medications or existing medical conditions.

✓ Prior to the PPT meeting, consider providing the school with copies of existing evaluations.

✓ Inform school personnel of any services your child receives independently, outside of school. Ask that providers collaborate so everyone is “on the same page.”

✓ Understand that the end result of this process is a team decision regarding eligibility. You are a key member of the team and your input is valuable and essential.

Before the PPT Meeting

✓ Write a list of concerns or issues that you feel are important to discuss. Try to resolve any questions or concerns you have prior to the PPT meeting, so your meeting time can be used productively to formally agree on a plan. With prior discussion, there should be no surprises at this meeting.

✓ Prepare your own questions and items to address. Ask for a blank copy of the IEP form showing the components, and prepare questions you would like to discuss at the meeting. Bring the list with you.

✓ In order to be an informed participant in the process, request that the school provide you with the evaluations and proposed goals, objectives and placement recommendations in advance of the PPT meeting.

✓ Talk to other parents who have attended PPT meetings to learn from their experiences. Attend local support groups, conferences, informational meetings, and seminars.

✓ The written notice of the PPT meeting will include a list of attendees. Review the list to make sure it includes all necessary school and outside personnel. Notify the school if you intend to bring someone from outside the school (for example, a friend, relative, advocate or outside evaluator). It may be someone who has knowledge of your child and his/her specific needs or someone just to take notes for you while you listen. Knowledge of special education services is helpful, but not necessary.

✓ Know your child: Prepare a sample parent vision statement that describes your child; provide a list of your child’s strengths, challenges, preferences and learning styles. Bring samples of your child’s work and any helpful recent evaluations done outside of school. Consider bringing your child, if appropriate.

During the PPT Meeting

✓ Take notes or have someone take notes for you. Consider tape recording the meeting to share with your partner or review what was discussed. If you decide to record the meeting, notify the school ahead of time, because they may also want to record.

✓ Make sure all required team members are present. Only consider consenting to the excusal of a team member if his or her input has been submitted in writing and the member’s area of service is not being modified or discussed.

✓ Be a good listener. Listen to the staff’s professional opinions about your child. School personnel may be good advocates for your child, too.

✓ Remember, you are an expert in your child’s development. Be prepared to share your observations of your child’s functioning in areas such as: activities of daily living, movement, communication, social relationships, behavior, independence, preferences and problem solving.

✓ Consider presenting your opinions to the team members in a prepared written statement that you have developed prior to the meeting.

✓ Be prepared to share your observations about the way your child learns best. He or she may learn best by: touching, moving, holding, drawing or writing (kinesthetic learner); seeing, looking or watching (visual learner); working in groups with other children; working alone or with one friend; listening, hearing, repeating or talking about new things (auditory learner); or singing.

✓ Be prepared to share your educational expectations for your child and what outcomes you would like to see him or her accomplish during the year. It is helpful to share your vision for your child’s future with the team: your child’s strengths and challenges, types of supports that may be beneficial and pre-vocational and vocational needs. It is important that everyone is heading towards the same goal. Be sure to include the extent of progress you would like to see your child make during the year.

✓ Be sure to consider all supports and services to help your child succeed, such as assistive technology, supplementary aids and services, related services, adapted or modified curriculum, special equipment or an educational consultant.

✓ Request a copy of the Frequently Used Accommodations and Modifications list from the school.

✓ Consider a variety of different ways and times for integrating services into your child’s program.

✓ Consider the potential benefits and risks of services that take your child away from the regular education classroom. More is not always better.

✓ Who will provide the services and what are his or her qualifications?

✓ What will the services entail?

✓ Will the service be delivered individually or in a group?

✓ Will the service be provided in the general classroom?

✓ How will the therapists and teachers communicate with each other and how often?

✓ How will you receive information concerning your child’s services and his or her progress: daily reports, phone calls, a weekly journal, monthly meetings, e-mails?

✓ If you do not understand something, ask that it be restated.

✓ Familiarize yourself with the IEP form. Make sure everything in the IEP document is clear, specific and accurate.

✓ Make sure your input is included in the Parent and Student Input and Concerns section of the IEP document: Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance.

✓ If you make requests that are refused, make sure they are included under the Actions Refused section of the IEP document: Prior Written Notice.

✓ When differences of opinion arise, talk them out.

✓ Use an IEP Matrix to present objectives, supports, staff and activities in a visual, easy-to-access format.

✓ If you feel pressured or overwhelmed, it is okay to take a break. Leave the room, take a walk and reconvene. If you don’t feel you can continue without time out to think about what you have heard, you may ask that the meeting be continued at a later date. In addition, if you believe that the meeting and/or IEP goals are incomplete, you may adjourn the meeting and reconvene at a later date.

✓ No signatures are required on the IEP document itself.

✓ The IEP will be implemented five days after you receive it, unless you formally disagree at the PPT meeting. So, if in doubt, speak up.

After the PPT Meeting

✓ Within five school days, you should receive a copy of the IEP.

✓ Read the entire IEP: make sure you understand it completely and that it accurately reflects all decisions made at the meeting. It is often helpful to compare it to previous IEPs and to the tape recording.

✓ If changes or additions need to be made, be sure to send a copy of them in a written addendum to your case manager. Remember, you may always request another PPT meeting.

✓ Discuss your child’s IEP with your child’s teachers (including “specials”) and related service providers, and understand how the goals will be implemented across curricula — in every classroom, cafeteria, gym, etc.

✓ Meet with your child’s case manager to understand his or her role in coordinating your child’s services.

✓ Take the time to explain any special equipment your child uses at home, and make sure you understand any special equipment he or she uses in school and may bring home.

✓ Ask that samples of your child’s work be shared with you. If you have questions, make an appointment with the teacher(s) or therapist(s) to discuss new strategies to meet your child’s goals.

✓ Let the school know that you would like to be called for your input, when needed.

✓ Inform teachers of activities and significant events that may influence your child’s performance.

✓ Be an active volunteer presence in your child’s classroom and school.

✓ While in the classroom, observe how your child participates and interacts with others, both peers and adults.

✓ Speak with your child about what’s going on in school. If there are concerns, speak with another member of the PPT team.

✓ Does your child seem to be making progress toward his or her IEP goals? If not, and you see it first, take the initiative to contact the school and talk about it.

✓ Informal conferences may be convened at any time with any or all team members. Together, you and the school personnel may then address your child’s needs as they become evident.

✓ Review the Procedural Safeguards, IEP Manual and Forms, and IEP Accommodations, Adaptations and Modifications checklists. Procedural Safeguards; State Dept IEP Manual and Forms; Adaptation and Modification Checklist; PEATC Accommodations.

✓ Remember that you are the one constant in your child’s life and educational program. Step up to the challenge.

These tips are included in our interactive guide to special services,
Bringing Knowledge to the Table: How to Be an Effective Advocate for Your Child.

Tips for Parents are included in our
interactive guide to special services,
Bringing Knowledge to the Table: How to
Be an Effective Advocate for Your Child