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Special Education/IEPs to fit service models


I'm a middle school special education teacher.  This past week, after 8th graders registered for High School, I was told by the High School case manager that many of the 8th grade IEPs needed to be revised to include a social studies and science goal.  She claims the revision is necessary because if students have difficulty in reading, they will most likely fail science and social studies and without the goal, will receive "no support whatsoever".  It sounds like they have team teaching for those subjects and want all students on an IEP for reading to have goals for Sci and SS.  I'm confused by her line of thinking and it sounds to me like she wants a cookie cutter IEP which fits the service model that the school is providing (inclusion).  Many of these students have accommodations listed for science and social studies, but do not have minutes for direct services, and are NOT failing these classes at the elementary level... because they receive the support indicated in the IEP.  Isn't it illegal to tailor the IEP to the services provided in the school?  It seems the better solution would be to follow the accommodations/modifications/consult minutes that are listed and if the student then needs additional help, consider adding the goal.

Hi Cait
Thank you for asking such an important question! Yes of course IEP's must be individualized. But maybe the high school representative was catching an error and wanted to correct it. I agree with the idea that a student needs to have support in literacy and other skills throughout all content areas, including science and social studies. But, at least do the high school has the same types of vehicles, that would indicate that the IEP's are not being individualized. It's really important that you are concerned about this and that you articulate your concerns. The parent should be involved in this discussion, and I think it would be wise for the team to convene as soon as possible. Thank you for teaching our youth, and thank you for your advocacy!

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Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed.


I can answer questions about disability definitions and criteria for services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, No Child Left Behind, 504 plans, how to craft an IEP that drives the appropriate services, school placement, dispute options, and least restrictive environment. I worked in the public school system as a special educator and am now in private consulting practice where we assist parents as they navigate the special education process. I have expertise in all educational disabilities except blind/visual impairments and deaf/hard of hearing. This includes ADHD and other health impairments, medical conditions, dyslexia and learning disabilities, Autism, emotional disabilities, language processing problems, and interfering behaviors.


10 years as special educator and administrator in public school system; Director of ABCs for Life Success since 1998; Expert services such as analysis and testimony; Author: Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education; Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute; internet radio show Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education; author School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders released March 2010 (Prufrock Press).

Masters in Special Education with Emphasis on Inclusive Education (Johns Hopkins University); Special Education (James Madison University); Conduct training for Universities, public and private schools, parent groups. Adjunct professor current George Washington University and prior George Mason University.

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