Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who can I ask if I have questions?
A: The best person to ask questions of, at any time, is your child’s IEP Manager. If they are unable to answer your question, they will connect you with the appropriate person or resources. Even if your questions are very specific (e.g., health office visits, changing clothes for PE class, accommodations in art class, participation in clubs or extracurricular activities, support in pre-vocational courses, transportation, school start time, student schedules, summer transition opportunities, etc.) start with your IEP Manager. They will be happy to either field questions as they arise, schedule a time to meet, or coordinate an IEP meeting for any items requiring team consideration.
Q: When is it okay to start asking questions about next year?
A: It is never too early to begin asking questions that help you prepare for your child’s future. Spring Parent-Teacher Conferences are a natural time for these planning conversations to occur, and you don’t need to wait until March to start asking. Student course schedules and IEP manager changes are typically decided by May of each school year. Once these decisions are finalized, they will be shared with parents prior to the end of the school year.
Q: I want my child to have a familiar peer in his/her classroom/homeroom next year. Is that possible?
A: Ensuring continuity of positive peer relationships is important. District staff determine class lists and student course/classroom placement based on a number of factors, including student strengths and needs, peer relationships, class size and diversity, equity among teachers, and a number of other considerations. Each spring, to the extent we are able, school staff will consider and attempt to honor parent request(s) that promote student success, equity, and inclusion.
Q: What kind of communication can I expect?
A: At the start of each school year, your child’s team will want to know your preferred communication method (i.e., phone, email, text, etc.) to ensure timely & effective two-way communication throughout the year. You can expect to receive periodic updates & announcements as well as questions from team members about your child, that may support the team in providing appropriate services & supports.
Q: My child’s annual IEP isn’t due until later in the year, but I have questions about how his new case manager will be implementing the existing IEP? What should I do?
A: Any time your child transitions into a new grade-level or building, you may have questions about the type or location of services provided, which specialists serve your child, or even questions related to the implementation of IEP accommodations. If these questions sound familiar, please do not hesitate to connect with your child’s school, because it is very appropriate for you to ask these questions of your child’s case manager, or even request that the IEP team reconvene to discuss answers to these, and other questions. As a general rule, parents can request an IEP meeting with the child’s team at any time; you do not have to wait until the annual IEP due-date to meet. In addition, there are a number of ways you can communicate with your child’s case manager. Email or end-of-day phone calls are often easiest when addressing questions related to programming, but text messages, student planners, home-school communication notebooks, or even a Google Doc or other form of technology could also be an effective option.
Ultimately, don’t wait to reach out to your child’s case manager and teachers with questions or concerns now and throughout the year. Opening the lines of communication right away can be a great way to ensure that the entire IEP team, which includes parents, has a common understanding of your child’s plan.
Q: Each year at my child’s IEP, the case manager talks about “ESY.” I know her teachers show me data, talk about progress reports and check a box on the IEP, but I’m confused about what it all means? Is ESY the same as summer school? How come she received ESY one summer but not the next? Can you please explain!
A: Some students with disabilities need special education or related services beyond the normal school year. These services are called Extended School Year (ESY) services. Nebraska Rule 51 provides guidance on ESY services. Extended School Year (ESY) services are an extension of the school term and are designed for the purpose of addressing the individual needs of students whose education will be significantly jeopardized if the student is not provided an extended educational program beyond the traditional school year. Extended School Year services may include instructional services, support services, or both. ESY services are provided to a student during a break in the normal school year (such as the long summer break, or winter or spring breaks).
All students on an IEP must be considered for Extended School Year (ESY) annually, which is why case managers discuss this topic during the IEP meeting. Sometimes the IEP team can make a decision during the meeting, other times the IEP team decides they need more information, so they delay the decision to gather more data, in order to make the most informed decision at the right time. Just because your child received ESY services one year, does not automatically mean they will need it the following year(s). Similarly, the fact that no ESY services were provided in a prior year does not mean ESY services are not needed in the current year. This decision is made each year, by using student data and progress on IEP goals and objectives. If the student is eligible for ESY services, that information must be written in the IEP and provided at no cost to parents. ESY is not the same as summer school. School districts have the choice of whether to offer summer school. While some ESY services may be provided through/during summer school, ESY eligibility must be considered annually for all students on an IEP.
Extended School Year services are not designed to teach new skills and abilities nor are they provided for the purpose of helping children with disabilities advance in relation to their peers. When collaborating to determine the ESY eligibility of each child, IEP teams must look for trends in student performance data, while asking: “Will the learning that occurred during the regular school year be significantly jeopardized if ESY services are not provided?” Teams further consider whether the child is at a critical point in his/her learning, if a pattern of regression exists following long breaks, how long it might the child to recoup any skills lost over breaks, or whether the child has missed a significant amount of school. These are just a few of the many factors IEP teams consider when deciding whether or not a child requires ESY services during an extended break. If you have additional questions about Extended School Year services or about how this information might apply to your child, please contact your child’s case manager to discuss, or add it to your list of things to discuss during an upcoming IEP meeting.
Q: The words, terms, and acronyms that special educators use can be confusing. My son’s teachers assume I understand what all of these things mean, but I don’t. How can I make sense of it all?
A: One of the best ways to learn more about the terminology that educators use, is to ask. But to get you started, here are a handful of terms you may hear throughout the year.
ACCOMMODATIONS & MODIFICATIONS
Accommodations are adjustments made in how a student with a disability is taught or tested. Accommodations do not change what the student is taught or what he is expected to know. Accommodations are intended to reduce or even eliminate the effects of a child’s disability; they do not reduce learning expectations.
Modifications, unlike accommodations, change the level of instruction provided or tested. Modifications create a different standard for the student receiving them.
BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION PLAN (BIP)
A Behavior Intervention Plan, which can be part of the IEP, identifies supports and services that will be provided to prevent inappropriate behaviors from occurring and to support desired behaviors.
Short tests administered throughout the school year that give teachers immediate feedback on how students are meeting academic standards and progression over time.
DAILY LIVING SKILLS
Skills required for living independently such as dressing, toileting, bathing, cooking, and other typical daily activities of nondisabled adults.
Refers to the smooth, uninterrupted, effortless flow of speech; normal rate and rhythm of speech.
FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR ASSESSMENT (FBA)
Functional behavior assessment is a problem-solving process for addressing student problem behavior. It relies on a variety of assessments, techniques and strategies to identify the purpose of specific behavior and to help teams select interventions to directly address the problem behavior. FBAs can be used, as appropriate, throughout the process of developing, reviewing and, if necessary, revising a student’s IEP.
A curriculum focused on practical life skills and usually taught in community-based settings with concrete materials that are a regular part of everyday life.
The ability to apply a skill or behavior learned in one setting to another setting or the ability to apply a learned skill or behavior in new situations.
The location and physical characteristics of the area in which instruction takes place.
MEASURING ACADEMIC PROGRESS (MAP) TEST
MAP assessments are computer-adaptive and produce accurate, reliable data that reveal the precise learning level of every student, regardless of the student’s ability or grade level. MAP identifies areas of strength and opportunity at the goal level of a subject, as well as overall performance. Educators use MAP data to inform in-the-moment instructional practices, gain insights into college readiness, and view grade-independent academic growth.
In common use, the percentile usually indicates that a certain percentage falls below that percentile. For example, if you score in the 25th percentile, then 25% of test takers are below your score.
Is the ability to manipulate sounds, such as blending sounds to create new words or segmenting words into sounds.
The awareness of how words sound and how they are represented in written language or print; ability to identify and manipulate the sounds of language. Many children with learning disabilities cannot readily learn how to relate letters of the alphabet to the sounds of language
POSITIVE BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION AND SUPPORTS (PBIS)
PBIS is a proactive systems approach for creating and maintaining safe and effective learning environments in schools and ensuring that all students have the social and emotional skills needed for success in school and beyond.
A report of student progress toward IEP goals and objectives, written by IEP service providers once per quarter of school (in alignment with quarterly report cards - October, January, March, May).
RATE OF IMPROVEMENT (ROI)
The rate of a student’s growth, most commonly calculated to indicate the amount of growth per week or the rate at which the student will need to make progress per week to meet their goal.
A plan to coordinate a set of activities that promote movement from school to post-school education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation. Transition goals are determined by the IEP team beginning at least by age 16 and are based on student and family vision, preferences, and interests.