IEP Planning: Continuum of Services
So, you made it halfway through the IEP. The IEP team discussed your child’s academic performance, goals and objectives were identified and accommodations and/or modifications have been suggested. Now, the IEP team moves on to the subject of placement and mentions that there are a continuum of services that must be discussed. This is where some parents get confused or feel that they are forced into a box on where and how the school will provide services for their child.
Under IDEA, it is presumed that students with disabilities are most appropriately educated with their non-disabled peers and removing them from the general education environment should only occur when the severity of a student’s disability limits them from satisfactorily achieving in the general education classroom (even with supportive aides and services). Additionally, even though a student with a disability may receive accommodations and/or modifications, this should not remove them from the general education classroom.
It is important for parents to know about each continuum of services before an IEP meeting, so that you can follow along as the IEP team discusses these services. Here is a breakdown of the services.
General education classroom – the student is educated in the general education classroom by a general education teacher without any special education services
General education classroom with Additional Supportive Services – Supplementary aides and services (i.e., accommodations, behavior support, sign language) are provided in the general education classroom with services from special education personnel
Consultative – the student is educated in the general education classroom by a general education teacher and with direct services from special education personnel for at least one subject
Collaborative – the student is educated in the general education classroom by a general education teacher and with direct services from special education personnel for a set time (determined by the IEP team)
Co – Teaching – the student is educated in the general education classroom with direct services from the special education teacher and the general education teacher for all subjects
Small Group – the student receives instruction outside of the general education classroom in a special education classroom provided by a special education teacher
Special Day School – separate day school or program
Hospital/Homebound – services provided by special education personnel
It is the IEP team’s responsibility to determine what services are appropriate for each subject area that they are eligible to receive services in. It is also critical for parents to remember that just because a student needs small group instruction for reading, does not mean that he or she will need small group instruction for all subjects. As IDEA states, students with disabilities should be included in the general education setting as much as possible. The general education classroom without any support should always be considered first. Once parents have a full understanding of what each service provides, you, as their advocate, can be better informed about what is more appropriate for your child.