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Taking Notes

Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

Below are a few things we feel are essential to keep in mind at every point in your IEP journey.


  • All communication should be in writing. Whether the request is an email, text message, or handwritten note, important communication should always be made in writing. This is especially important for letters addressing evaluation requests or changes to a proposed or existing IEP plan

  • Include the phrase, “meaningful participation” in written communication. The team evaluating the needs of your child wants to know there is a guardian engaged in meeting these goals.

  • Request data and goals when services are changed. For example, if the team recommends a decrease in reading services, ask for data to support the reasoning behind this recommendation.

  • Request regular progress reports in writing. In the “Progress Reporting” section, check “other” and write in “monthly.” Unless otherwise requested, updates are given on the same schedule as report card distribution. Monthly check-ins are essential to ensure your child is progressing and receiving the customized care they need. 

  • Bring Procedural Safeguards to every meeting. The school is obligated to offer these to parents at every meeting. Take them if you do not have a copy. It’s important to keep these documents with you and familiarize yourself with your rights. Schools are also obligated to ask if you would like them explained. This is not a good use of time in an ARC meeting, but they should be offering it nonetheless You can download that file here, or review our Procedural Safeguards Overview page (coming soon). 

  • Recognize the difference between “Accommodation” and “Modification.” These words can seem interchangeable at times, but not when related to IEP plans. For example, an accommodation could give a student extra time to complete the same assignment as their peers. However, a modification would allow the student to complete a modified version of the assignment.

  • Parents can request an occupational, speech, or physical therapy evaluation or special transportation. If you make this request, and you are refused, challenge the decision. You have the right to this evaluation.

  • Students should carry their 504. This is especially important for older children who may be changing classes and dealing with several different teachers throughout a school day. Having the 504 plan with them allows them to easily communicate their needs to a teacher.

  • What’s the difference between an IEP and 504. An IEP Plan is specifically for students who qualify for special education. The IEP provides instructions on how your child’s special education will be carried out in the classroom. A 504 Plan is reserved for students who do not qualify for special education, but still require some accommodations to achieve their academic milestones. 

For more information, visit our YouTube channel.

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