Overcoming 5 Common Challenges to Maintaining IEP/504 Compliance
Accommodations and modifications outlined in a student’s IEP or 504 plan which are legally mandated in order for a student to have access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) require evidence that they are being implemented, in the form of documentation. High-quality documentation also protects school districts and service providers in mediation and due process situations.
Depending upon the type of accommodation or modification, the IEP team needs to devise an effective way of determining when it was implemented and how effective the intervention may have been to address the original need identified at the planning meeting.
It is my belief that teachers want to deliver the highest quality of diverse instruction to both engage all students and address the individual needs of students with special needs. However, this can be a daunting task. Here are 5 common challenges that can obstruct implementation and compliance.
Challenge 1: IEP/504 Plans are not always easily accessible to the student’s entire team
Implementation of a student’s IEP or 504 plan usually involves a team of professionals including specialists and general education teachers who must know and follow the service requirements of the plan. Due to confidentiality laws and sometimes login limitations of digital programs, these plans are not always accessible to all teachers. Limited access to a student’s IEP/504 plan hinders the ability of all staff to fully support the student with special needs in their classroom.
At TeacherPlanBook we can provide information regarding the needs of individual students at the fingertips of all of the student’s teachers and specialists. This information is right where it can be the most impactful, in the individual teacher plan books. Students are identified by the last 4 digits of their student ID with required accommodations, modifications and the associated standards. Teachers can use this information to both plan instruction and to document compliance.
Challenge 2: Limited Time for Collaboration
Often times school schedules do not provide time for consistent communication between general education, specialists and collaborative teaching teams. While general education teachers plan inclusive lessons, specialists often have access to specific tools, resources and strategies that can provide greater accessibility to instruction for students with specialized needs. The result of inadequate collaboration time can limit the sharing of lessons prior to instruction or constrain appropriate implementation of accommodations and modifications.
TeacherPlanBook allows all collaborative teams to share lesson plans. Sharing provides a vehicle for teachers to comment and provide coaching as well as to plan together. This type of online sharing not only allows specialist to support general education teachers but can maximize in person planning to focus on strategy development and review of progress monitoring.
Challenge 3: Documenting to demonstrate compliance and effectiveness
IEP and 504 plans that impact students are only those that are implemented with fidelity. However, documenting compliance is often see as separate from a teacher’s daily instructional responsibilities. While some districts create processes for demonstrating when accommodations were implemented and their effectiveness, often teachers left with the task of documenting compliance without specific protocols.
Many districts continue to use paper-based compliance logs and shared documents noting the date, location and specific intervention implemented to show that the staff did in fact provide the supplementary aid, accommodation, or modification. A separate and inefficient method at best.
TeacherPlanBook leverages technology to provide staff with tools to document and collaborate in a meaningful way. Data is maintained on the date, location and associated standards for every time a teacher plans for and implements an accommodation or modification. Implementation for each student can be viewed in the individual’s compliance report. The TeacherPlanBook Compliance Report along with the TeacherPlanBook At Risk and Call Logs provide a clear picture of the IEP/504 plan implementation efficiently in one location.
Challenge 4: Documenting implementation of standards-based instruction
An IEP plan is designed to close the gap between the student’s present level of performance and grade level expectations outlined in the grade level standards. A 504 plan modifies a student’s regular education program in a regular classroom setting therefore intending to provide access to the grade level standards. In both cases teachers will want to provide the required accommodations or modifications to allow the student to access and progress towards meeting grade level standards. Unless you are using a standards-based reporting system, grades do not always reveal the student’s progress towards goals. Therefore, teams are wise to report not only on goal attainment for progress toward grade level standards and when additional instruction aligned to specific standards is provided.
Within TeacherPlanBook teachers can easily select standards from a curriculum map or an accessible standards list that align with each lesson. Additionally, standards that are addressed for individual student IEP’s can be checked off as they are addressed within instruction. Along with the compliance report teachers can show progress towards achievement of grade level standards.
Challenge 5: Maintaining Parent/Guardian Rapport
Failure to provide specially designed instruction, implement or provide related services required on an IEP are frequent reasons parents file formal complaints against school districts. One only has to search for IEP modifications and you can find a number of websites that inform parents as to how to advocate for their child. A lack of communication between school teams and parent/guardians is often cited as the catalyst for elevating concerns into due process hearings.
TeacherPlanBook features such as lesson sharing with parents, compliance reporting and call logs not only document IEP/504 plan requirements it provides a medium for open communication. Compliance reports can be shared periodically with parents/guardians as a way to build trust. Effectiveness of specialized instruction can be seen early on during the year and review meeting scheduled to address student needs immediately decreasing anxiety about plan implementation.
Consistent and accurate implementation of required modification or accommodations present challenges for educators. However, cloud-based solutions like TeacherPlanBook can facilitate compliance efficiently and effectively.