*Image courtesy of Pizza Hut*
“An IEP is a waste of paper! Just tell me what services the student receives.”
Have you ever had this thought, before?
If you’ve sat in enough IEPs you’ve had this thought dozens of times and know exactly what you’re getting into at each meeting. However, if you don’t sit in these meeting as often or are new to them, I’d like to help by explaining the gist of the IEP.
Now before I get into the 3 layers, you must understand that each layer is designed to build upon the point before. Since I’m hungry right now, I’ll use the analogy of a pizza to explain. At the base of the IEP, we have the PLOPs which will be our dough. On top of that, we glaze on the saucy, but not so much cheesy goals. And finally, we add on the perfect combination of pepperoni and pineapple (supports and services) toppings that bring it all together.
Now that you’re hungry too, let’s start with the foundation of the pizza – the Dough
LAYER 1: The Dough
Our PLOPs will act as our fluffy dough. Present Level of Performances, or PLOPs, are your student’s baselines and should include all academic areas – writing, mathematics, reading, and language arts – as well as many functional skills such as fine and gross motor skills, social skills, community participation and behavior. For each of these areas, there should be at least some short notation to your student’s strengths and concerns. Just like the rest of the IEP, all team members can add their own narratives to this section of the IEP. Just be sure that what you’re reading in the PLOPs sounds like your student. If it doesn’t, politely ask questions to identify why that narrative is in the student’s IEP. It may be a typo, or it may be a difference of opinion. Either way, it is best to make sure the PLOPs are in order before moving onto the goals.
LAYER 2: Sauce and Cheese
Now that we have our foundation prepared, it’s time to add some Goals onto the dough. Just like sauces and cheeses, goals come in many varieties. While I won’t get into the details of forming great goals here, what you need to know is that the goals need to merge with the PLOPs like the melted cheese on the dough. Goals should be an extension of the PLOPs. When in the PLOPs there is a concern about the student’s mathematic skills, then a goal should be created to address this concern. The same should occur for all other areas of concern – both functional and academic areas. Again, it is important to iterate that all team members can, and should, have input into what goals the student should meet for the upcoming year. Make sure that all necessary concerns are addressed with a goal, as they will now be the base for our S&S toppings.
LAYER 3: The Toppings
This brings us to our toppings, the Supports and Services. Supports and services are the specific professionals and tools that will be provided to the student in order to help them access their education. And just like I would never eat pineapple and pepperoni without the dough and cheese, never would I offer my services to a student before knowing what their PLOPs and Goals were.
Based upon a student’s goals, the IEP team is supposed to determine which and with what frequency the student requires services and supports. While some students may have only 1 or 2 services other students may see 4 different specialists in order to access their education. Similarly, some students may require the support of extra time, while others require a quiet space. Again, these are all individualized and related to the student’s goals.
Time to throw it in the oven!
There you have it, the 3 essential layers to your student’s IEPizza – The PLOPs, the Goals, and the supports and services. When layered correctly and with the help of the entire team, they can blend perfectly. However, without balance and sequential order you can end up with a very messy pizza. If you are a teacher or other provider, I hope this helps to understand why the IEP is ordered in the way that is is. And for the parents out there, I hope you understand a bit more about the services your child receives and why the school offered to provide those services. In any good IEP, you should be able to see the progression from the PLOPs-to-Goals-to-Supports and Services.
Thank you all for visiting my site. If you have any questions or would simply like to make your thoughts about this topic known to others who may need help, please use the comments sections below or email me at OTtoolsblog@gmail.com