Late last spring I wrote about how wonderful it was that Tucker graduated from his IEP. I didn’t feel that great about it. I did…but…I didn’t. Folks said, “Oh, how wonderful.” “That is so great.” “Good for him!” “What an accomplishment.”
I smiled…because that’s what I do. Fake it ’til I make it.
Well…I made it. So, now what?
Well…I spent LOTS of time this summer learning about 504 plasn and how we could make a plan with our school to ensure Tucker’s continued success.
What is the difference? In a nutshell, an IEP is about modification. It’s about change; tracking and assessing that change. In an IEP, goals are created. These goals can be quite varied: social goals, emotional goals, academic goals, occupational therapy goals, speech and language therapy goals. (You name it – we’ve had each type of goal.) Then, your child’s educational team tracks progress towards those goals. Once these goals are met you create new goals…or in his case, you ‘graduate.’
Graduation from an IEP is always the ultimate goal, but not commonly achieved.
Tucker has never been common.
A 504 is about accommodation.
What is good about this? Well…it’s a bit more ‘loose’ so it can look more like a qualitative assessment and strategic plan. It’s the story of what works and what doesn’t. It’s about making adjustments in his day to enhance his educational experience.
A 504 is about accommodation.
What is bad about this? Well…it’s a bit more ‘loose.’ It’s more difficult to track what exactly is working and why. Regardless, A 504 is much more suited to addressing issues outlined in the Ziggurat Model.
Adding to the challenge? It’s a transition year. Transition years are historically more difficult than any other year, a transition to High School nonetheless. Our new faculty members don’t know Tucker. They don’t know where he has been, how far he has come, or what struggles he (may) continue to face. They don’t know how funny he is or how much he treasures structure.
In August the new Assistant Principal and I began communicating about Tucker. He’s new…and let me tell you. He’s good stuff. I often refer to people as Snapple…’made of the best stuff on earth.’
To give Principal Snapple a snapshot before we met I put together a document. In that document?
- IEP History – Including his first and last goals as well as excerpts from exit interviews with his 7th/8th grade teachers. This was INVALUABLE data because it was in teacherspeak…what he excelled at and areas still under construction.
- Information about Executive Functioning – This in the area that Tucker still struggles with the most: impulse control, emotional control, flexible thinking, working memory, self-monitoring, planning/prioritizing, task initiation, and organization. I addressed each of these areas and introduced the idea of a School Coach. Someone consistent to help him stay organized, stay on task and on track, and most of all…someone to listen.
- Specific Academic Accommodations – I listed the accommodations he could have received in previous years: extra test time, testing in a quiet area, seating close to the teacher, chunking assignments, written instructions for assignments, and frequent breaks
- A list of specific sensory triggers
That was followed by a meeting request with his first semester teachers and reassessment schedule (for the 504 plan) – mid semester, pre spring semester, end of spring semester.
Finally, our goals and promises as parents. Our promise to work with. Our promise to be active and engaged. Our promise to have their back. Our promise to provide feedback. Our promise to be proactive. Our promise to have like messages. Our promise to be consistent and firm. Our promise to always, always love him.
Do you know what Principal Snapple did? He asked me to come meet with him. So I did. We talked about Tuck. We reviewed the information I put together. Then he said something like this…”I think Tucker would be best served by one of our intake conference spots. That means that all of his teachers – even Study Hall – would come together and hear about what a wonderful, unique student he is. How would you feel about that?”
Mr. Snapple, for sure…made of the best stuff on earth.
What happened at that meeting? Well…I try to keep posts around 500 words and am already over 700, so I guess you have to wait until the next post. 😉