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What do we do about vague services, goals, and outcome measures?

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The school psychologist is the one who did all the testing on our student. in the IEP She says that she will spend a half hour twice a month helping her. In the first IEP meeting the district representative made a point of saying that school psychologist time is an extremely valuable asset that the District is committing to the student. (the school psychologist really likes the student who is bright, articulate, self-aware, psychologically minded, cooperative. The school psychologist wants to spend time with her.) the student already is meeting with a private education psychologist weekly.

The student will be pulled out of class to meet with the school psychologist. My problem is that the purpose, goals and outcomes for these meetings are very vague, plus once they are not things that should need to continue for a whole year. I tried to push back a little bit about how this time would be used and what the activities and goals are, but the school psychologist shut me down.

I asked what they would be working on and she said “I have lots of different curriculum.” Her main goal for the student is to identify the triggers that cause her to feel that she needs to take a break from class. The student is very articulate about what her triggers are but the psychologist is insisting on keeping this as a year-long goal. (there’s no talk about how to help ner keep from leaving class.)

Our student had words with an administrator, (one time she talked back in her nine years of schooling,) and somehow that has now been included in her behavior plan. Because it was such an unusual situation that never happened before or since I don’t think it belongs in her behavior plan, but they won’t take it out.

what can we do to make this time with the school psychologist productive?

what are our options when someone at the school is insistent about something in the IEP that parents don’t agree with?


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Sometimes it is difficult to get the school district to be specific about services other than "for behavior" or "for specialized instruction in reading" and the minutes.  But the goals and measurement of progress on the goals absolutely cannot be vague.  The goals must be specific and measurable.  They should include direction of behavior (increase, decrease, or maintain), area of need (reading, writing, social skills, etc.), and level of attainment (reading level, without prompts, etc.).  If you don't know what the goal is or how it will be determined as met, it is worthless.

You should not let anyone "shut you down" in an IEP meeting.  As a parent, you have a right to "meaningful participation" under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), so point that out to anyone who doesn't let you finish speaking.

As far as identifying triggers, if that is the main goal for the school psychologist, then that goal should be specifically mentioned.  I have copied and pasted Lisa's suggestions for self-regulation IEP goals below.  Perhaps something similar to number 7 would work for this student?  And you absolutely should have a goal(s) to help her from leaving class.  Some of the ones listed below might work for that, as well.

If the school psychologist wants to have year-long goals, that's fine.  But you need to have a specific way the goals are measured and determined as met.  Then once met, the goals should be dropped - even if it's midway through the school year.  If the school psychologist just keeps meeting with her because she likes spending time with her, that is not putting the student in the least restrictive environment - also a requirement under the IDEA.  She should only be pulled from the general education setting when it is necessary to meet her needs and provide specialized instruction.

I'm not an expert on FBA's or FBP's, but the one-time situation you refer to seems more appropriate for notation on the FBA rather than the actual plan.

Finally, when the school district won't do something you ask for such as remove an item from the behavioral plan or wants to put something in the IEP you don't agree with, make sure you get that on a Prior Written Notice from them.  Asking for that might help them to change their mind.  Also, I don't know what state you are in, but you might have the option to write on the IEP signature page what you don't agree with (call your state department of education and ask about options in this situation).  You should also follow up all IEP meetings with a detailed email of what occurred, especially the items in disagreement.

Self-Regulation IEP Goals

  1. The student will demonstrate appropriate skills in identifying emotions, behaviors, and triggers.
  2. Demonstrate appropriate skills in responding to various emotions and situations.
  3. The student demonstrates skills that they know when or how to ask for help in regulating their emotions.
  4. Describe personal student strengths accurately and how to effectively use those to self regulate
  5. Explain the kind of strategies needed for a situation. (set the stage for weekly situations)
  6. Communicate/Identify strategies or compensation skills that work best for him/her in self-regulatory situations
  7. Explain and communicate one or two environmental needs that may trigger inappropriate regulation responses
  8. Identify specific environmental modifications and tell why they are needed to help with self-regulation
  9. Can demonstrate skills that they can communicate how and when to ask for help to prevent an unfortunate situation
  10. List possible antecedents to their own behaviors (“I get upset when…..”) and list possible acceptable alternatives to their negative behavior.
  11. In the classroom environment, ______ will utilize positive self-talk and coping strategies to handle stressful situations or work demands in which he/she manifests anxious or withdrawn behavior (i.e. putting head down, saying he/she can’t do something), demonstrating by engaging in the 30-minute activity or situation in a calm and positive manner with one prompt on 2/3 occasions.
  12. In counseling sessions, _______ will accurately identify feelings and appropriate coping strategies when presented with real or imagined situations with 80% accuracy on 4 out of 5 trials.
  13. When _____ becomes upset, frustrated, or angry, he will use a self-regulation/coping strategy (movement break, deep breathing, quiet space break, deep pressure/heavy work activity, etc.) to avoid engaging in unexpected behavior, with one reminder, on 4 out of 5 opportunities, as measured by observations and documentation.
  14. __________ will improve his self-regulation skills as demonstrated through utilizing a tool (e.g. inner coach, sensory support, calming break) to aid in regulating to an expected emotional state (e.g. green zone – which is when we feel calm, happy, content, and focused) with one adult reminder on 8 out of 10 instances in a small group setting, as measured over two week period
  15. ______ will improve insight on regulation as demonstrated by identifying the instances where he/she could have benefited from utilizing a tool to aid in regulation and determine what tool would have been beneficial for each instance with 80% accuracy.
  16. When presented with a problem (non-preferred task, frustrating situation, criticism/correction), ______ will accurately determine the size of the problem (big problem, little problem) and determine the appropriate emotional response (take a break, talk with the teacher, take a deep breath, replace frustration with good thoughts, etc.) and return to the task at hand in 4 out of 5 trials as measured by teacher charted data.
  17. When given a frustrating situation (i.e. undesired task, demand, and/or undesired peer behavior), with one prompt ________ will utilize coping strategies (i.e. take a break, deep breaths, etc.) and return to and remain on task for a minimum of 10 (use baseline number + improvement) minutes with an average of 95% over 8 consecutive school weeks, across all classroom environments.
  18. When presented with a situation known by ______ to be anxiety or frustration-producing for him (i.e. non-preferred task, an unexpected obstacle such as ______, tasks perceived as too difficult, unfamiliar adult, and non-preferred adult), he will independently demonstrate an appropriate emotional response through finding a solution to his problem or using a strategy to regulate back to an expected emotional state (take a break, talk with the teacher, etc.) and return to the task at hand within 2 minutes, for an average of 80% of instances both throughout all environments and within each environment.
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