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IEPs and AccomodationsThere is great debate in our district right now over how...

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bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted December 8, 2011 at 4:07 AM via web

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IEPs and Accomodations

There is great debate in our district right now over how extensive some of the accomodations are for several of our SPED students. There are so many kids on IEP's now that need so many accomodations...and some of our teachers have 7 or more of these kids in class. We are worn out trying to keep up with all the needs while at the same time trying to give the middle and high kids what they need to excel.

We have even been told, that for several of these kids that we must go back and give full credit for extremely late assignments...which is basically a no fail policy.

Thoughts?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 8, 2011 at 4:29 AM (Answer #2)

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I have experienced this as well, and while it can be maddening, it is also, if agreed upon in the IEP, the law. If the IEP requires that students be allowed to turn in late assignments, which is pretty common for IEPs, then short of reconvening the committee, there is not much that you can do. It doesn't necessarily mean its a no-fail policy if you grade the assignments with as much rigor as you did for the other students. Having said all this, I will add that MANY students on IEPs, including, I suspect, some of the ones you are telling us about, need to have an honest conversation, with parents included, about not abusing their modifications. On a side note, I always thought that for every person that fell in to this category, there were several others who needed an IEP that were not identified.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 8, 2011 at 5:00 AM (Answer #3)

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I think that it is probably wrong of me, but I just let the IEP kids do what they want and I don't make a fuss.  In essence, I do have a no fail policy and I have been sort of tacitly nudged toward that by the Special Ed teachers and the administration.   It's too hard to try to hold the IEP kids to anything and I'm not sure I see the point.  Yes, it would be better for them if someone would stand up to them and hold them to the rules, but doing so only gives you all the trouble and probably won't have the desired result because you'll be overridden.  I know... not an optimal attitude.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 8, 2011 at 6:01 AM (Answer #4)

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I have always had a problem with the idea of sacrificing the classroom time--and the sense of equal, fair play--of middle- and upper-level students in order to try and raise the scores of SPED students. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a principal in confidence--one that he could never admit to his teachers. It will be the upper- and middle-level students who grow up to be the next leaders of our country, not the lower-level kids. My principal considered it a shame that school districts (and our nation's laws) did not reflect his quite correct assumption, but as is often the case, his hands--and those of the teachers--are tied.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 8, 2011 at 7:42 AM (Answer #5)

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I must agree with pohnpei. While it has never been said, SPED students are simply able to pass many classes based upon the no fail (unspoken) policy. With every test, I create a general education text and one with modifications. The modification test is simply one which provides multiple choice answers (to cue) over the fill-in-the-blank the other students take. Teachers face enough battles. Choose wisely!

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:18 AM (Answer #6)

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I think in many ways, IEP's are just governmental CYA paperwork.  Many of my students with IEP's never use the modifications, while others, it seems, are constantly be "re-evaluated" for what eventually seems to come across as laziness.  I think most regular ed teachers (especially those of us who teach core subjects required for graduation, like English) can empathize with your situation.

That said, this is one of those battles I've also chosen not to fight.  In classrooms of 30+ students (often with an inept inclusion "team teacher") I tend to teach all of my students at the lowest level and build up.  I've found the most immediate success with providing class time for all assignments (essentially, I gave up on assigning homework as well, in favor of actually teaching students to think critically as I facilitate).  In this way, in some classes, even my regular-ed students were essentially allowed a "no-fail" policy, as long as they were displaying effort in class.

And of course, ultimately, when it comes to graduation rates, English teachers were the most pressured to offer an "opportunity" for students to complete requirements essentially without a time goal.  Ultimately, the highest grade they could accomplish was a D.  In the end, I actually do think it is fair.  A D ultimately reflects how very little effort was put in to the class, but essentially, it still gives those struggling students (attitudes or LD) a sense of accomplishment.

Another note: I rarely had an inclusion student who displayed effort in class make lower than a B or C.  It was always those who also displayed apathetic attitudes toward learning, which, to me, is worthy of D.

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wshoe | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:40 AM (Answer #7)

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Out of class assignments were never an issue in my class, but I did have students who abused the modification for extra time on tests.  The test was to be sent to the resource teacher for the student to complete in that class if the student was unable to finish during the class period.  More often than not I had students who would be among the first to hand the paper in yet request additional time.  I finally told the students they had to work the entire class period if they wanted me to send the test to the resource room.  Some students really need the extra time, but most just know how to manipulate the system.  I worry that we aren't preparing these students for life beyond high school.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 8, 2011 at 11:11 AM (Answer #8)

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I too see many students who only use their accommodations when it suits them, but at some point and for some professional reason, that accommodation was put to paper and I am NEVER going to be called in for not following my legal obligation in regards to the IEP of a SPED student. I am not more lenient -- I follow the letter of the law with them as I do with all my students, but I am probably more vigilant in keeping my SPED students informed about missing assignments and poor grades.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 9, 2011 at 12:40 AM (Answer #9)

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This is a massive debate, isn't it, as often accommodation can verge on favouritism rather than creating the conditions to enable all students to succeed on a level playing field. I have always thought it rather unrealistic for one teacher in a class of thirty to be able to accommodate their teaching to meet the needs of every single student, but at the same time we need to be working towards this goal as best as we can. As other posters above comment, treating some students differently, by for example reminding them of deadlines, does not necessarily equate with unfairness towards other students.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 9, 2011 at 1:27 AM (Answer #10)

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There are too many angles from which this can be debated, as has been demonstrated by all the comments above. #7's concern about how well we are preparing SPED students for life beyond high school rings very true. I was working with on career planning with an eighth grader who had IEP with significant modifications in the area of math who wanted to become an FBI agent with the ultimate goal of doing crime scene investigation. I pointed out to her that this type of work would involve a great deal of math and asked if she would be able to handle it. Her reply was "Oh, that's OK - my partner can do it." I bit my tongue very firmly and walked away...

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 11, 2011 at 5:41 AM (Answer #11)

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I would like to ask what input as a class teacher/head of department you have into the IEP? The NZ and UK systems may be a little different, but as class teachers we are requested to comment on the competency of a student within our subject area and have input in to the goals. How can SMART targets be set if the students face no challenge to learn? If the IEP becomes a free pass, how is that education? (I am a mainstream English teacher and a Spec Ed teacher)

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hsf203 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 31, 2011 at 11:51 PM (Answer #16)

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I think that it is probably wrong of me, but I just let the IEP kids do what they want and I don't make a fuss.  In essence, I do have a no fail policy and I have been sort of tacitly nudged toward that by the Special Ed teachers and the administration.   It's too hard to try to hold the IEP kids to anything and I'm not sure I see the point.  Yes, it would be better for them if someone would stand up to them and hold them to the rules, but doing so only gives you all the trouble and probably won't have the desired result because you'll be overridden.  I know... not an optimal attitude.

  You're right, it's wrong.  It's also immoral, illegal, and unethical, and it undermines everything that dedicated special education teachers are trying to (and often do) accomplish.  Shame on you!

 

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hsf203 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 1, 2012 at 12:15 AM (Answer #17)

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IEPs and Accomodations

There is great debate in our district right now over how extensive some of the accomodations are for several of our SPED students. There are so many kids on IEP's now that need so many accomodations...and some of our teachers have 7 or more of these kids in class. We are worn out trying to keep up with all the needs while at the same time trying to give the middle and high kids what they need to excel.

We have even been told, that for several of these kids that we must go back and give full credit for extremely late assignments...which is basically a no fail policy.

Thoughts?

  There are two issues I would like to address here.

First, the idea of extremely late assignments:  Extended time to complete assignments is an accommodation that is intended to give the student enough time to complete an assignment.  It should be used the same way as extended time to complete a test - if the student is no loner working, they don't need more time.  If it is documented that a student refuses to complete the assignment, there should be no issue with a failing grade.  Howeve, if the student is unable tocomplete the assignment, the responsibility falls back on the teacher.

Next, the idea of "so many" accommodations being needed.  There are several standard accommodations that will help almost all students with mild learning disabilities (who are the ones you find in most inclusive settings).  Preferential seating, extended time to complete assignments,  text above independent level being read to the student, specially designed graphic organizers for comprehension and writing, use of manipulatives for math, and differntiated instruction covers most of the needs of these students.  If the students require more significant accommodations than these, inclusion is probably not the setting for them, and it behooves the IEP team to consider a different placement.

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM (Answer #20)

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Wow!  What a commentary about teachers and special ed students.  As a teacher with 35 years of experience PLUS being a parent with a very bright yet very autistic son who fits no medication profile nor any commonly described  definition, I sit on both sides of the table.  As a teacher, I truly understand the frustration of the never ending open grade book; as a parent, I truly understand that my son has to fight his Obsessive Compulsive behaviors to accomplish even one answer.  To the teacher, it looks like he is just delaying answering; to me, I know that inside his mind is a battle ground to put the answer on the paper without erasing anything which isn't perfect.  Yes, I do understand that students can abuse their IEPs, but I also understand that without the protection of his IEP, some teachers would refuse to have him in their class or even in the school because he might cause a disruption.  For him, that disruption is a hated loss of control over a very strong compulsion and he knows he may end up in a room with a locked door because the police which try to manage him are exhausted because my son cannot hear them then.  I would ask that teachers imagine themselves as this IEP child's parent; what would they be willing to do or say then?  I would ask parents to think about being the teacher of 30 students and how would they think about accommodations differently?  Both sides are right and wrong; we need to work together because we must educate our students for the sake of an educated country.  Yes, it is for the sake of the student that we try to help to the best of our ability, and YES, it is for our own sake that we do the same.

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