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How to Help Students Lead Their IEP Meetings

  • Center for Educational Improvement
Searching for a way to increase parent
attendance and participation in indi-
vidualized education program (IEP)
Looking for a way for students to be
more involved in their education?
Feeling that students don’t take
enough responsibility for their own
Wanting general educators to be more
supportive of students with disabili-
Though we offer no panacea, we
believe that increasing student responsi-
bility for their IEPs can influence stu-
dent and parent buy-in and involvement
in the IEP process. Building on the suc-
cess that others have experienced with
self-determination and self-advocacy
(Field & Hoffman, 1994; Martin &
Marshall, 1995; O’Brien, O’Brien, &
Mount, 1997; Sands & Wehmeyer, 1996;
Van Reusen & Bos, 1990), we have
found a way to substantially engage
teachers, parents, and students in plan-
ning for the education of students with
disabilities. That process—student-led
IEPs—teaches students to take owner-
ship for their own education and to
demonstrate that ownership at an annu-
al IEP meeting.
Through our research on student-led
IEPs, we found that students and teach-
ers alike reported that students using
this process knew more about their dis-
abilities, legal rights, and appropriate
accommodations than other students
and that students gained increased self-
confidence and the ability to advocate
for themselves (Mason, McGahee-
Kovac, Johnson, & Stillerman, 2002).
This process also increased parental
participation in IEP meetings (with
100% of the parents participating in IEP
meetings during the year). Moreover,
many general and special educators
were enthusiastic about the changes
they observed in student involvement in
education, including the follow-up that
occurred in implementing IEP goals.
To prepare students for the many
responsibilities they will assume after
they leave school, students—while they
are in school—need to learn to think for
themselves and advocate on their own
behalf, including learning how to over-
come obstacles to the successful pursuit
of their goals (Wehmeyer, Palmer,
Agran, Mithaug, & Martin, 2000).
Certainly students need both an under-
standing of and experience with an
array of self-determination activities
(Agran, Snow, & Swaner, 1999; Ward,
1988, 1992). Whereas others have pre-
sented curricula for involving students
in general self-determination activities,
little information is readily available to
assist teachers in substantially involving
students in IEP and transition meetings
(Lovitt, Cushing & Stump, 1994;
Powers, Turner, Matuszewski, Wilson, &
Phillips, 2001; Salend, 1983; Snyder &
Shapiro, 1997).
Despite the lack of resources to assist
teachers in adequately preparing stu-
dents for their participation in IEP and
transition meetings, the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
of 1997 requires the transition process
to include (a) inviting students to IEP
meetings when needed transition serv-
ices are going to be discussed and (b)
ensuring that a coordinated set of tran-
sition activities are based on student
needs, taking into account the students’
preferences and interests (34 C.F.R.300.
344 (b) (1) and 300.29).
Simply inviting a student to meetings
where transition services are discussed
won’t ensure that the transition activi-
ties are based on that student’s needs,
preferences, and interests. Recognizing
this, many districts have implemented
TEACHING Exceptional Children, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 18-25. Copyright 2004 CEC.
How to Help
Lead Their
IEP Meetings
Christine Y. Mason Marcy McGahee-Kovac Lora Johnson
procedures for transition planning,
including interest surveys that are used
with students before their IEP or transi-
tion meetings. Many teachers, however,
are so involved in preparing students for
high-stakes assessment that even with
the best intentions, they may find them-
selves focusing on academic goals that
can be achieved in general education
classrooms, while allotting less time for
transition plans.
Preparing students to lead their IEP
meetings can strengthen student
involvement in transition planning and
IEP meetings. Depending on student
capability and preparation, student par-
ticipation will occur at three general lev-
els ranging from presenting limited
information during the meeting (Level
1) to assuming responsibility for all
aspects of the IEP or transition meeting
(Level 3). (See box, “Levels of Student
Involvement at the Meeting.”) Students
can become involved to a greater or
lesser extent under each level. For
example, some students at a Level 2
may begin by sharing information about
their disability but not take a lead role
in discussing strengths and weaknesses
or accommodations.
Preparing for the IEP Meeting
In an ideal world, students would begin
receiving self-advocacy and self-deter-
mination instruction in elementary
school and would experience significant
participation in IEP meetings before
high school. Although such experience
is highly desirable, students can lead
IEP meetings even if they have not
received previous preparation in self-
determination and self-advocacy.
Teachers should schedule a minimum of
four to six sessions over a period of sev-
eral weeks for training and preparation
for the IEP and transition meeting.
These sessions can occur with individu-
als or small groups and should cover
information on the following:
Plans for postschool activities and
transition needs.
Current level of performance, current
goals, and recommendations from
teachers, parents, and others.
Student strengths and needs in each
class—including appropriate accom-
Student’s legal right to an appropri-
ate education and appropriate sup-
The preparation sessions for involve-
ment in IEPs and transition planning
that follow are designed to be used with
students with mild to moderate disabili-
ties in secondary schools; however, with
some modifications, these basic proce-
dures can be used with students of vary-
ing ages and levels and types of disabil-
IEP Preparation Session #1
Before or during the first session, teach-
ers need to introduce information on
IDEA (1997) and the student’s right to
both an IEP and a transition plan, as
well as other rights, including a right to
accommodations. Teachers should have
copies of laws available during the ses-
sion to discuss key concepts from IDEA
(1997), the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) of 1990, and Section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as
amended. (See box, “Public Law 105-
17” and “Additional Resources.”)
An efficient procedure is to cover this
information prior to the first session
with a small group of six to eight stu-
dents. Teachers may find it helpful to
conduct this activity at the beginning of
every school year in a basic skills, study
skills, or resource class. Rather than the
IEP manager assuming responsibility for
sharing information with each student,
Levels of Student Involvement
at the Meeting
Level 1
Student presents information
about or reads from his or her
transition plan for the future.
Level 2
Student explains his or her dis-
ability, shares information on
individual strengths and weak-
nesses (present levels of perform-
ance), and explains the accommo-
dations needed. Students present
Level 1 information and may sug-
gest new IEP goals.
Level 3
Student leads the IEP conference,
including Level 1 and Level 2
responsibilities, introductions,
and closing. Public Law 105-17:
Reauthorization of IDEA
Individuals With Disabilities
Education Act of 1997
Some of the important sections to
review with secondary students
with mild disabilities when con-
sidering IEP participation are:
Disability. 34 C.F.R. 300.7.
Development of the IEP. C.F.R.
300.346 (1).
Considerations of special fac-
tors in development of the IEP
(behavior, limited English profi-
ciency, instruction in Braille,
communication needs, and
assistance technology). 34
C.F.R. 300.346 (a) (2).
Evaluation. 34 C.F.R. 353.2 and
• Student involvement in transi-
tion plans. C.F.R. 300.347(b)(1)
and 300.347(b)(2).
Age of majority. C.F.R.
Graduation from high school.
C.F.R. 300.122(a)(3)(ii)-(iii).
• Participation of regular educa-
tion teacher. 34 C.F.R. 300.344
(a) (2) and 300.346 (d).
• Access to the general curricu-
lum. C.F.R. 300.26(b) (3) (ii).
Accommodations and modifica-
tions for state wide testing.
C.F.R. 300.138.
all special education teachers can work
together and share responsibility for this
orientation efficiently, if time manage-
ment is a concern.
Describing the law in student-friend-
ly language is helpful not only to the
student but also to the parents, who—
particularly those whose first language
is not English—may not ask for clarifi-
cation if they don’t understand what is
being said. Some of the parents with
whom we have worked have comment-
ed that they never fully understood IEPs
and the right to education until their
child explained it in layman’s terms.
If a separate session has been held at
the beginning of the year covering dis-
ability laws and rights, the individual
student and teacher review this infor-
mation during their first IEP preparation
meeting. Students and teachers at this
first meeting also discuss needs and
concerns in each class and prepare invi-
tations to the eventual IEP meeting.
Students will distribute these invitations
to teachers, counselors, administrators,
parents, and others prior to the next IEP
preparation meeting.
IEP Preparation Session #2
If this is the student’s first IEP, teachers
should discuss assessment information
(including career interest inventories
and transition needs) during the second
session. For those students who have a
current IEP, the individual student and
teacher read sections from the student’s
IEP together, highlighting sections of the
IEP in which the student disagrees or
has questions and placing check marks
next to goals that the student feels have
been met. Students and teachers can
reference the required quarterly
progress reports as they review the stu-
dent’s estimates of his or her achieve-
In this session, the student and
teacher should also consider postschool
preferences and draft transition goals.
IEP Preparation Session #3
In preparation for the third session, stu-
dents contact their teachers and parents
to request their input concerning indi-
vidual goals, including their opinions
about whether those goals have been
met, and to obtain their recommenda-
tions for areas of concern or future
goals. Students invite such feedback
through preparing either a written note
or an e-mail communication. The teach-
ers and parents return their responses to
either the student or the student’s IEP
manager. Rather than relying solely on
opinions and new input, the student
and the teacher add to this third session
the student’s goals, which are reviewed
quarterly, as well as quarterly progress
reports that are sent to parents.
Before the meeting, the student and
the teacher make and modify lists of
strengths and needs according to each
subject. They use these lists, along with
input from teachers, parents, and oth-
ers, to develop new goals and bench-
marks. Team members can use similar
processes to discuss accommodation
needs and concerns, using a checklist of
potential accommodations to stimulate
IEP Preparation Sessions #4
and #5
The special education teacher may want
to prepare a draft of the district’s IEP
form that includes possible individual
goals for the coming year. In the fourth
session, the student and the teacher
review the proposed goals and the effec-
tiveness of accommodations that are
being used in each class.
During both the fourth and the fifth
sessions, the student uses the draft IEP
to practice his or her presentation for
the IEP meeting. To support student
involvement, other students who have
previously participated in student-led
IEP meetings may model how to lead a
meeting. This is followed by verbal
practice, feedback from teachers and
others, and additional practice.
IEP Preparation Session #6
In some cases a sixth meeting is sched-
uled for additional discussion and prac-
tice. Teachers sometimes videotape a
rehearsal session and play that back for
the student, discussing how to improve
the student’s presentation at the IEP
Our project individualized training
and sometimes varied the precise
approach with the teacher and the indi-
vidual student. Students with prior
experience leading IEP meetings often
required fewer practice sessions to pre-
pare for the meetings. (For an individual
example, see box, “Erika’s IEP.”)
Results From Our Research
More than 100 students with mild dis-
abilities from a range of cultural back-
grounds had been involved in student-
led IEPs annually at the high school
where we implemented this project.
Between September 1999 and July 2000,
we conducted three studies involving 43
students. The studies included
Observations of student-led IEP
Interviews with teachers.
Interviews with students.
Teachers prepared the students to
lead their IEP meetings using three to
six preparation sessions that lasted 20-
45 minutes each. During these prepara-
tion sessions, students helped deter-
mine their needs, goals, transition pref-
erences, present levels of performance,
and accommodation needs. Following
this preparation, project staff and con-
sultants observed 5 student-led IEP
meetings and interviewed 10 teachers
and 35 students. (Four students had left
the school, and 4 were not available at
the time of the observations and inter-
views.) Our results confirm the follow-
Students were involved and did con-
tribute to meetings.
• Students knew about their disability
rights and their accommodations.
• Students gained increased self-confi-
dence and were able to advocate for
Parental participation increased.
General educators described stu-
dents who lead IEP meetings as
Interacting more positively with
Having greater knowledge of their
legal rights.
Assuming more responsibility for
themselves and having more support.
Being more aware of their limitations
and the resources available to them.
Detailed information on our results
are in our article, “Implementing
Student-Led IEPs: Student Participation
and Student and Teacher Reactions”
(Mason, et al, 2002) (See box,
“Questions About Leading IEP
Future Directions for Student-
Led IEPs
Preliminary data from a recent CEC Web
survey indicates that of 529 respon-
dents, approximately 70% rated student
involvement in IEPs as “very impor-
tant”; yet, only 65% of that group was
satisfied with the current level of stu-
dent involvement with IEPs (Mason,
Field, & Sawilowsky, in press). Other
data from that survey also show that
respondents had a strong interest in
self-determination and a similar dissat-
isfaction with the approach school dis-
tricts are taking in this area.
Similar results are reported by oth-
ers. For example, in a statewide survey,
self-determination was ranked as
“important” or “very important” by
77% of the respondents (Agran et al.,
1999). Only 55% of those respondents
included self-determination skills on
their student’s IEPs.
The findings of researchers such as
David Test and his colleagues provides a
positive outlook for the future involve-
ment of students in determining their
own goals and contributing to their edu-
cational plans. They report an increas-
ing popularity in the use of these terms
at special education meetings and in a
proliferation of self-determination cur-
ricula (Test, Karvonen, Wood, Browder,
& Algozzine, 2000). Moreover, in a
recent compilation of articles published
by the National Transition Network,
Johnson and Emanuel (2000) have
included a series of articles that all sug-
gest an increase in student involvement
in the IEP process.
Most of the authors of articles in this
compilation are concerned about the sig-
nificant number of students who are not
involved in the IEP process. Johnson
(2000), for example, suggests that class-
es should be offered to enhance decision
making and that students’ goals for self-
determination must be clearly stated
within IEPs. Furney and Salembier
(2000) noted that a growing amount of
literature supports the efficacy of stu-
dent involvement in terms of increased
achievements in adult life, and Johnson
and Sharpe (2000), from a survey of 548
local special education administrators,
report increased involvement of students
in IEP meetings.
We might expect that the strong indi-
cators of teacher interest and the effica-
cy of student involvement in goal set-
ting that have been reported by
researchers would lead to more wide-
spread implementation of student
involvement in goal setting and partici-
pation in IEP development and imple-
Erika’s IEP
At the beginning of the year, Erika, along with other students, reviews legal
rights in her resource class. In preparation for the upcoming IEP meeting, Erika
meets with her special education teacher, Ms. Livia; and they discuss their per-
ception of Erika’s progress and needs, including some review of her disability
and her rights under IDEA (1997). They also consider who else might need to
be involved in planning for Erika’s education during the year. Together they
develop invitations to come to the IEP meeting, and Erika distributes these invi-
tations prior to the next IEP preparation session.
At the second session, Erika and Ms. Livia read sections from Erika’s current
IEP, highlighting areas where they have questions or disagreements. They also
place check marks next to goals that Erika believes she has met. At this session,
Erika and her teacher also discuss her transition plan, reviewing information
from a transition assessment she had completed earlier. This information is used
to draft IEP goals that focus on transition concerns.
Erika next contacts her other teachers and her parents and asks for their
input concerning both progress on her current goals and ideas for future goals.
At the third session, Erika and Ms. Livia discuss the knowledge they have at that
point, considering Erika’s grades, interests, successes, and problems from both
their perspectives and the perspectives of other teachers and Erika’s parents.
Together, Erika and Ms. Livia draft other possible IEP goals and benchmarks.
During the fourth meeting, Erika and her teacher review how Erika will be
involved in the IEP meeting: How much leading will she do? What kind of
prompts might she need? How will Ms. Livia assist with this meeting? Will Erika
handle the welcome and introduction? Will she review her progress and dreams?
When will she ask others for their input? Is she likely to hear criticisms? How
will she react if she is criticized? How can she avoid possible criticism by own-
ing up to any difficulties or problems that have occurred? How comfortable will
Erika feel in leading the meeting? How prepared will she be to follow through
on recommendations and decisions from that meeting? What should she do if
she finds that she disagrees with a recommendation?
After talking with Erika, Ms. Livia assumes the role of a coach and facilitator
and helps Erika decide on many other details regarding the meeting and its
desired outcomes. To help Erika prepare for the important leadership role she
will assume, Ms. Livia and Erika rehearse the meeting, videotape the rehearsal,
and review it to polish Erika’s performance.
In this scenario, Erika has a practical reason to master some important skills
that might be useful in other situations. Erika knows that planning is important
and that the other team members value her involvement and ideas. She under-
stands she is assuming major responsibility for both planning the meeting and
following up on the plan.
How old do you need to be to lead an
IEP meeting?
Although it is perhaps easiest for teach-
ers to envision students in high school
preparing to leave school as IEP team
leaders, we have experience implement-
ing student-led IEPs with students as
young as 6 years of age. The vocabulary
is different, and the degree of responsi-
bility is different; however, the concept
of leadership is maintained through the
emphasis that is placed on asking the
child about what is important to him or
her and using that information in plan-
ning goals.
What about cognitive or communica-
tion skills?
Students with mental retardation or
other cognitive disabilities and students
with limited communication skills are
among those who have helped lead their
own IEP meetings. Sometimes picture
prompts are used and certainly individ-
uals who communicate through com-
munication boards and other electronic
means can participate using those
devices to facilitate communication.
Sometimes the student is videotaped
presenting his or her statement, and that
is shown at the meeting. Sometimes
interpreters help with the statements.
Sometimes students begin by leading
one part of the meeting, rather than
assuming responsibility for the entire
Is this an important skill that will gen-
eralize to later situations, or is too
much time spent on a skill that won’t
be useful later in life?
Results from our research tell us that
students gain confidence and communi-
cation skills. Students who have gradu-
ated also tell us anecdotally that because
they have practiced asking for accom-
modations and talking to others about
their disability, they find it easier to
apply self-advocacy skills in college or
on the job.
How can I find time to practice?
This issue needs resolution. Some teach-
ers use time during a pull-out or
resource course, or even offer one-credit
courses for self-advocacy. Others find
time before or after school or during
their lunch hours or planning periods.
Sometimes teachers pull students from
other classes for planning. Some of
these are not very good alternatives.
These skills are so critical that they
should be considered part of the cur-
riculum for each student with a disabili-
ty. With that framework, finding time is
important. Recommendations are need-
ed from educational leaders about how
to best find that time. We are currently
reviewing recommendations in this area
and will have suggestions for enhancing
scheduling available later this year.
What happens when students practice
these skills over a period of years?
Although our formal research was only
over two years, our informal experiences
tell us that students gain self-advocacy
skills. Some students over a period of
years gradually take on more and more
responsibility, including responsibility
for assisting their peers in gaining the
skills needed to lead IEP meetings.
Follow-up interviews with six students
who had been involved in student-led
IEPs for 2-4 years showed that all six
students believed that this process was
beneficial. All six students indicated
increased confidence and improved pub-
lic speaking skills. More research is
needed in this area.
What should I do if I want to imple-
ment Student-Led IEPs?
Here are a few basic steps:
If you don’t have it already, you may
want to get a copy of a self-advocacy
or self-determination curriculum to
use with this program.
• Consider how to begin. We suggest
some sort of pilot with a few students.
Strive for initial success. That enthusi-
asm may make it easier to expand
your program. One way to build this
enthusiasm is to begin with students
who are natural leaders and have
good communication skills. But don’t
stop there. Often these students later
become excellent peer tutors in this
• Consider who your allies might be.
Are there other teachers in your build-
ing or district who might also be
interested in this? Perhaps you could
form a resource network.
Talk to a few parents and your admin-
istrators and make sure you have sup-
port for your pilot.
Make sure you consider issues such as
confidentiality. A locked file cabinet is
needed for storing IEPs. Students will
need guidance about how to discuss
their disability with others, including
how much to share with their class-
mates or employers. Before students
are given copies of their IEPs, make
sure the building level administration
has approved of your plan. Often it is
best to present the student with a
copy of his or her IEP in a large enve-
lope with a clasp.
Go to the CEC Web site (http://www to download or pur-
chase Student-Led IEPs: A Guide for
Student Involvement (McGahee et al.,
2001). This guide describes in more
detail the procedures used in our
research and includes sample forms
that can also be helpful in implement-
ing this process.
What are problems I may be likely to
These are fairly basic. The most frequent
problems center around time. If you
can’t find sufficient time to work with
students and provide structured practice
in leading the IEP meetings, then stu-
dents may be more nervous and less
effective, or their presentation may seem
artificial and less likely to truly represent
their needs. If necessary, be ready to
step in during the meeting. Even stu-
dents who’ve had several planning ses-
sions may need assistance.
Are there any keys to success?
Certainly. Among them are three critical
1. Use language in wording goals and
objectives that the student can
2. Make sure you have student buy-in.
3. Find adequate time not only to pre-
pare for the meeting, but to monitor
Are additional resources available to
assist in IEP development and self-
determination and self-advocacy?
(Yes, see box, “Additional Resources,”
which follows.)
Questions About Leading IEP Meetings
mentation in the future; however, other
factors need to be taken into considera-
tion. Some preliminary data show that
general educators are not interested in
self-advocacy or self-determination, and
that there is a similar lack of interest in
related research conducted in the area
of self-directed learning, a term used
more frequently in the general educa-
tion literature (Mason, Thormann,
O’Connell, & Behrmann, in press).
These data suggest that although
special education is implemented most
frequently in the general education
classroom, general educators are not in
step with special educators regarding
these practices. Moreover, IDEA reau-
thorization is around the corner, and
decisions made during this process
could have a widespread and long-term
effect on policy and practices. That is
not to say that such involvement must
be legislated. Related to these concerns
are findings from Johnson and Sharpe
(2000) regarding the barriers to imple-
mentation—foremost among them is
students being unprepared to represent
themselves. Other barriers they noted
were lack of interest from students and
lack of focus on this as a priority within
school districts.
Special educators’ interest in student
involvement in IEPs is growing. These
teachers recognize they need additional
guidance about how to involve stu-
dents, but several factors continue to
mitigate against this involvement. Given
this situation, the good news is that for
interested teachers, curricula and
expertise are available. A dedicated
group of technical assistance providers
have many valuable insights into suc-
cessfully implementing and furthering
these practices.
Agran, M., Snow, K., & Swaner, J. (1999).
Teacher perceptions of self-determination:
Benefits, characteristics, and strategies.
Education and Training in Mental
Retardation and Developmental Disabil-
ities, 34, 293-301.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of
1990, P.L. 101-336, 47 U.S.C. 1210 et seq.
Brolin, D. E. (1991). Life centered career edu-
cation. Reston, VA: Council for
Exceptional Children.
Field, S., & Hoffman, A. (1994).
Development of a model for self-determi-
nation. Career Development for
Exceptional Individuals, 17, 159-169.
Field S., Martin, J., Miller, R., Ward, M., &
Wehmeyer, M. (1998). A practical guide
for teaching self-determination. Reston,
VA: Council for Exceptional Children.
Furney, K. S., & Salembier, G. (2000).
Rhetoric and reality: A review of the liter-
ature on parent and student participation
in the IEP and transition planning process.
In D. R. Johnson & E. J. Emanuel (Eds.),
Issues influencing the future of transition
programs and services in the United States
(pp. 111-126). Minneapolis, MN: Univer-
sity of Minnesota.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA) (1997). P.L. 105-17, 20 U.S.C. 1400
et seq.
Johnson, D. R. (2000). Challenges facing the
future of transition services. In D. R.
Johnson & E. J. Emanuel (Eds.), Issues
influencing the future of transition pro-
grams and services in the United States
(pp. 153-158). Minneapolis, MN: Univer-
sity of Minnesota.
Johnson, D. R., & Emanuel, E. J. (Eds.)
(2000). Issues influencing the future of
transition programs and services in the
United States, Minneapolis, MN:
University of Minnesota.
Johnson, D. R., & Sharpe, N. M. (2000).
Analysis of local education agency efforts
to implement the transition services
requirements of IDEA of 1990. In D. R.
Johnson & E. J. Emanuel (Eds.), Issues
influencing the future of transition pro-
grams and services in the United States
(pp. 31-48). Minneapolis, MN: University
of Minnesota.
Lovitt, T. C., Cushing, S. S., & Stump, C. S.
(1994). High school students rate their
IEPs: Low opinions and lack of owner-
ship. Intervention in School and Clinic, 30,
Martin, J. E., & Marshall, L. H. (1995).
ChoiceMaker: A comprehensive self-deter-
mination transition program. Intervention
in School and Clinic, 30, 147-156. (ERIC
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IEPs: Practices and attitudes of educators.
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Additional Resources
Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Federal Laws
ILIAD and ASPIIRE IDEA Partnership projects
Council for Exceptional Children
ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education
Families and Advocates Partnership for Education
Office of Special Education Programs
National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities
Western Regional Resource Center
Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy Curriculum and Approaches
ChoiceMaker Curriculum (Martin & Marshall, 1995).
LCCE Life Centered Career Education (Brolin, 1991).
Self-Determination Across the Life-Span (Sands & Wehmeyer, 1996).
Self-Determined Learning Model (Wehmeyer et al., 2000).
Student-Led IEPs: A Guide for Student Involvement (McGahee, Mason,
Wallace, & Jones, 2001; hard copies and downloadable pdf version available
• A Practical Guide for Teaching Self Determination (Field, Martin, Miller,
Ward, & Wehmeyer, 1998).
Note: See reference list for complete information on these guides.
Mason, C., McGahee-Kovac, M., Johnson, L.,
& Stillerman, S. (2002). Implementing stu-
dent-led IEPs: Student participation and
student and teacher reactions. Career
Development of Exceptional Individuals,
25, 171-192.
Mason, C., Thormann, M., O’Connell, M. &
Behrmann, J. (in press). General educa-
tion and special education associations: A
comparison of priority issues and key ter-
minology. Exceptional Children.
McGahee, M., Mason, C., Wallace, T., &
Jones, B. (2001). Student-led IEPs: A guide
for student involvement. Arlington, VA:
Council for Exceptional Children.
O’Brien, C. L., O’Brien, J., & Mount, B.
(1997). Person-centered planning has
arrived or has it? Mental Retardation, 35,
Powers, L., E ,. Turner, A., Matuszewski, J.,
Wilson, R., & Phillips, A. (2001). Take
charge for the future: A controlled field-
test of a model to promote student
involvement in transition planning. Career
Development for Exceptional Individuals,
24, 85-104.
Salend, S. (1983). Self-assessment: A model
for involving students in the formation of
their IEPs. Journal of School Psychology,
21, 65-70.
Sands, D. J., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (Eds.). (1996).
Self-determination across the life span:
Independence and choice for people with dis-
abilities. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
Snyder, E., & Shapiro, E. (1997). Teaching
students with emotional/behavioral disor-
ders the skills to participate in the devel-
opment of their own IEPs. Behavioral
Disorders, 22, 246-259.
Test, D. W., Karvonen, M., Wood, W. M.,
Browder, D., & Algozzine, B. (2000).
Choosing a self-determination curriculum:
Plan for the future. Teaching Exceptional
Children, 33, 48-54.
Van Reusen, A. K., & Bos, C. S. (1990). I
plan: Helping students communicate in
planning conferences. TEACHING
Exceptional Children, 22, 30-32.
Ward, M. J. (1988). The many facets of self-
determination. NICHCY Transition Sum-
mary: National Information Center for
Children and Youth with Disabilities, 5, 2-3.
Ward, M. J. (1992). Introduction to second-
ary special education and transition
issues. In F. R. Rusch, L. DeStefano, J.
Chadsey-Rusch, L. A. Phelps, & E.
Szymanski (Eds.), Transition from school
to adult life: Models, linkages and policy
(pp. 387-389). Sycamore, IL: Sycamore.
Wehmeyer, M., Palmer, S., Agran, M.,
Mithaug, D., & Martin, J. (2000).
Promoting causal agency: The self-deter-
mined learning model of instruction.
Exceptional Children, 66, 439-453.
Christine Y. Mason (CEC Chapter #192),
Senior Associate for Research and Program
Development, Council for Exceptional
Children, Arlington, Virginia. Marcy
McGahee-Kovac, Teacher, Fairfax County
Public Schools, Virginia. Lora Johnson,
Educational Consultant, Springfield,
Address correspondence to Christine Y.
Mason, Council for Exceptional Children,
1110 N. Glebe Road, Suite 300, Arlington,
VA 22205-5704 (E-mail: chrism@cec.
Our thanks to school district administra-
tion and to teachers, students, and parents
for their assistance with this project.
This project was supported by Grant
#H0023D970102, U.S. Department of
Education, Office of Special Education
Programs; Teri Wallace, Principal
Investigator; Christine Mason, CEC
Principal Investigator. The views expressed
rein do not necessarily reflect the views or
policies of the Department of Education.
TEACHING Exceptional Children, Vol. 36,
No. 3, pp. 18-24.
Copyright 2004 CEC.
... Parmi ceux-ci, on observe une plus grande responsabilisation chez les élèves, une meilleure connaissance de leurs droits, de leurs difficultés et des ressources mises à leur disposition, ainsi qu'une amélioration de la qualité de leurs interactions avec les adultes lors des rencontres de PI (Mason, McGahee-Kovac et al., 2004). L'étude de Pouliot (2002) ajoute que les élèves développent ainsi une meilleure connaissance de leur PI et une meilleure compréhension des raisons qui justifient leur présence. ...
... Enfin, la participation des élèves produit aussi des effets positifs sur les autres acteur·es. D'abord, la présence de l'élève oblige les professionnel·les à adapter leur langage rendant ainsi les échanges plus facilement compréhensibles pour tous (Kroeger et al., 1999;Mason, McGahee-Kovac et al., 2004). Les parents démontreraient un niveau de satisfaction plus élevé à l'issue de la rencontre parce qu'iels se sentent, entre autres, plus à l'aise de donner leur opinion lorsque leur enfant est présent·e (Barnard-Brak et al., 2009;Martin, Marshall et al., 2004). ...
... Types de rencontres de PI selon le niveau d'autodétermination de l'élève (inspiré de Gaudreau et al., 2021;Mason, McGahee-Kovac, et al., 2004) Bien situer l'élève sur ce continuum d'autodétermination permet d'identifier avec plus de justesse les cibles de développement de l'élève en vue de sa participation à sa rencontre de PI, en ayant toujours en tête que l'objectif ultime est qu'il ou elle dirige luimême ou elle-même sa rencontre de PI. Conséquemment, le degré de responsabilité qu'un·e élève PDC peut assumer dans l'établissement de son PI sera tributaire de sa situation et des conditions mises en place pour faciliter sa participation. ...
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When a student is unable to progress and succeed within his training program or the situation requires the implementation of specialized services or various adaptations, an individualized education plan (IEP) is implemented (Ministère de l'Éducation du Québec [MÉQ], 2004a). Although the Quebec framework for the establishment of the IEP specifies that the student must be placed at the heart of his or her success, the participation of students with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) is generally little solicited, their opinions little taken into account, and they do not feel prepared to play an active role in it (Souchon, 2018). However, many studies demonstrate the positive effects associated with the active involvement of the student in the establishment of his IEP. Based on an integrative review of literature, this article paints a portrait of the situation regarding the establishment of IEPs and the participation of EBD students in this process. It outlines the benefits associated with active participation on their part. Subsequently, the need to accompany students in order to support this participation is demonstrated. Finally, courses of action are proposed to support EBD students in the development and implementation of their IEP and to support their self-determination throughout the phases of this process.
... To help students with ED experience post-secondary success, teachers need resources to assist them with planning and preparing for students' transition from high school into education and training programs and employment in young adulthood. This practice guide will offer practical ways to plan for these students' successful transition from high school to post-secondary life, which can lead to positive outcomes for students with ED. • Student-led IEPs lead to increased participation from parents during IEP meetings (Mason, McGahee-Kovac & Johnson, 2004). ...
... Understanding these variables can help teachers identify benchmarks of students' current capacities, as well as benchmarks to work toward through the transition planning process. There are three levels of student involvement in IEPs (informed by Mason et al., 2004): ...
Full-text available
Young adults with mental health difficulties are capable of successfully engaging in school, training, and employment. The support these individuals receive as they progress through secondary education can help them realize their potential in life after high school. Many times, teachers see different results for these students such as high school drop-out, lower rates of post-secondary education and employment, and even higher rates of involvement with law enforcement, poverty, and homelessness upon their exit from high school; however, with the right information, resources, and determination teachers can make a lasting impact on these students. To help students with emotional disturbance experience post-secondary success, teachers need resources to assist them with planning and preparing for students’ transition from high school into education and training programs and employment in young adulthood. This practice guide will offer practical ways to plan for these students’ successful transition from high school to post-secondary life, which can lead to positive outcomes for students with emotional disturbance.
... With appropriately high academic expectations, students exhibit better school outcomes (Bush et al., 2017). Additionally, student attendance at the IEP meeting is not only associated with a myriad of student benefits, such as academic achievement (Barnard-Brak & Lechtenberger;2010), increased knowledge about disability-related resources and accommodations (Mason et al., 2004), and greater self-advocacy skills (Wehmeyer, 2005), but also advantages for the IEP team. When students are present at their IEP meetings, team members talk more about student strengths and interests, engage in collaborative problem-solving, and better understand what to do after the meeting (Danneker & Bottge, 2009;Martin et al., 2004). ...
Full-text available
While the challenges experienced by parents during Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) meetings have been well documented, limited research has examined parent satisfaction with the IEP document itself and which factors are associated with greater satisfaction. Using 1,183 responses from a national survey, we addressed the following research questions: (a) How satisfied are parents with their child’s current IEP? and (b) What characteristics of the parent, child, family–professional partnership, and IEP meeting predict greater parent satisfaction with their child’s IEP? Approximately 40% of parents reported some degree of dissatisfaction with their child’s IEP. Several child characteristics were associated with the most extreme levels of satisfaction. Results of a regression analysis indicated that, for this sample, parent, child, family–professional partnership, and IEP meeting characteristics significantly predicted parent satisfaction, with characteristics of the IEP meeting among the strongest predictors. Implications are discussed, including the need to replicate these findings with a more representative sample.
... La rencontre de PI constitue une étape charnière de la démarche d'établissement du PI puisqu'elle permet aux acteurs du PI de se concerter sur les besoins de l'élève et les moyens à mettre en oeuvre pour l'aider. Pour être efficace, cette rencontre nécessite toutefois que chacun des participants (incluant l'élève) s'y prépare de Niveaux d'autodétermination de l'élève lors de la mise en place du PI Trois options peuvent être envisagées: l'animation d'une rencontre de PI dirigée, codirigée ou autodirigée (Mason et al., 2004) (voir la Figure 1). Le degré de responsabilisation et d'implication de l'élève peut varier en fonction de son âge, de son niveau de développement, de ses capacités et de sa motivation. ...
... An article in Teaching Exceptional Children(Mason, McGahee- Kovac, & Johnson, 2004) cited three levels of involvement in the I EP meeting that gradually increase the student's role:▶ Level 1-Student presents information about or reads from his or her transition plan for the future. ...
... This process would provide educators the opportunity to provide students with a face-to-face introduction between students and team members whom students may not readily be familiar with, such as administrators. Teaching students about their IEP, the purpose of the IEP meeting, and how they can contribute as a team member can encourage students to actively participate in the IEP process and take ownership in their education (Biegun et al., 2020;Mason et al., 2004). ...
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As key members of the Individualised Education Program (IEP) team and strong child advocates, parents play a critical role in special education. In this study, we sought to understand a crucial, yet underexamined, aspect of special education – parent perceptions regarding student participation in IEP development. Specifically, we asked parents how schools could better support student involvement in the IEP process, including IEP meetings. Participants included 646 parents of students with disabilities aged 5–21 years currently receiving special education services across the United States. Constant comparative analysis was used to code data. Qualitative coding revealed four major themes, including: (1) promoting an active student role, (2) supportive school staff, (3) making changes to IEP meetings and (4) considerations and concerns regarding student participation. Implications for practice and policy are discussed.
Full-text available
More than 45 years of IEP/TP research and a few focused on IEP/TP functions or roles. Yet, the quality of an IEP/TP relies on the functions that it fulfills to satisfy the needs of its different users (Petitdemange,1985). The Quebec Ministry of Education (MEQ, 2004) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services within the U.S. Department of Education (in Eichler, 1999) explicitly identified and described six to seven IEP/TP functions. However, a literature review and practising environments highlighted a greater number of functions. The goal of this research is to identify the different functions that an IEP/TP should fulfill in regard to the different needs of its diverse users. With the use of pedagogical value analysis method (PVA), results show a synthesis of more than 700 functions organized in an IEP/TP Functional Specification Matrix (FSM). The IEP /TP FSM is useful to create, monitor and evaluate IEP/TPs.
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The Council for Exceptional Children conducted an online Web survey to obtain information on the instructional practices and attitudes of educators as they relate to self-determination and student involvement in the individualized education program (IEP) process. We obtained 523 usable responses from teachers, administrators, and related services professionals. Although respondents highly valued both student involvement in IEPs and self-determination skills, only 8% were satisfied with the approach they were using to teach self-determination. Only 34% were, satisfied with the level of student involvement in IEP meetings. Implications include the need for longitudinal research and technical assistance, targeting administrators, general educators, and special educators beginning in the elementary grades, to improve the capacity of schools to deliver self-determination instruction.
Full-text available
Discusses a transition program and curriculum, its materials, and their use
Federal and state mandates to provide transition services to students in the public schools requires educators to be trained to understand the concept and how to implement appropriate instruction and collaborative efforts in their programs. The authors of this article describe a distance learning project which can provide school personnel this training via satellite technology, on-campus courses, or inservice activities from their own staff. The Life Centered Career Education (LCCE) Curriculum, a comprehensive K-12 functional/life skills approach, is the focus of this training program. The distance learning option of the training program should be especially appealing to educators in rural areas for whom the cost and time involved in traveling to university campuses often limits their access to new information and training.
Despite the current interest in promoting self-determination and student-directed learning, the extent to which students are systematically taught these skills remains uncertain. The purpose of this study was to survey the perceptions of a sample of special educators on the benefits of self-determination, the characteristics associated with it, and the strategies used to achieve it. Results indicated strong support for self-determination instruction, and the teachers reported that it provides numerous benefits. Despite these findings, it was noted that relatively few educators include self-determination skills in IEPs. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Greater student involvement in the Individual Education Program (IEP) and transition process has been advocated by many; however, teachers are unaware of the materials that can assist them in preparing students for this involvement, and many students continue to be left out of their own planning meetings. In this study, researchers implemented student-led IEPs with 43 high school students in a culturally diverse high school in a mid-Atlantic state. Interviews held with 35 (81%) of these students confirmed that they were able to describe the purpose and benefits of an IEP, their disabilities, and their rights. Observation of student participation in IEP meetings for five (12%) students verified that all of them participated throughout their IEP meetings. Observations indicated that the five students participated for 49 (98%) of 50 opportunities for involvement. Interviews with 10 general and special education teachers at that school further documented the value of this student involvement, particularly in increasing student self-confidence and self-advocacy.
This study investigated the efficacy of an intervention model to promote student involvement in transition planning. The intervention included the coaching of youths in the application of student-directed planning skills to achieve transition goals, peer-based mentorship and parent support, and in-service education for school transition staff. An independent groups, repeated measures design was used to evaluate the impact of the intervention with 43 youth who experienced diverse disabilities. Results indicated that students in the treatment group demonstrated significant increases in their involvement in transition planning activities, empowerment, transition awareness, and level of participation in transition planning meetings compared with youths in the wait-list or control group. Implications of these findings are discussed and the need for additional research emphasized.