Monday, June 16, 2014

New Summer Series: "The ABCs of a 1st year teacher"

Welcome to my summer series "The ABCs of a 1st year teacher." I will be celebrating my successes as well as sharing the lessons learned from my first year.  My students worked extremely hard to give me a run for my money as well as show me things I couldn't have learned without them.  So here we go with the letter A for ARDs.

**Update: I had a follower ask, "I know what an IEP is but what the rest of the acronyms meant in this post?" Well ladies & gents, here is small list of special education's alphabet soup! I hope this helps you digest this post (and future posts) better! 
  • IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) This law ensures students with disabilities receive services Birth to Age 2 (Part C) and age 3 to 21 (Part B).
  • I.E.P (Individualized Education Program)  This is a mandated document by IDEA.  It is completely individualized per student and created as a committee to plan for the child's/student's education for the next year. You can find goals & objectives, the behavior plan, transportation information, information about their disability, testing accommodations & modifications & much more!  
  • A.R.D  (Admission, Review & Dismissal ) The meeting which staff and parents attend to create a child's/student's IEP. **From what I've heard, Texas is one of the few places that actually call the meeting an ARD.  Most states have entitled it an IEP meeting.**
  • F.B.A. (Functional Behavior Assessment) The process used to identify problem behavior exhibited by students. The FBA is typically created by a special education teacher, behavior analyst or school psychologist. 
  • B.I.P. (Behavior Intervention Plan) A plan created by the ARD committee using the information from the FBA.  The BIP explains how staff will improve the child's behavior. 
  • LSSP (Licensed Specialist in School Psychology) Administers and interprets psychological, intelligence and achievement assessments.  The LSSP helps prepare certain parts of the ARD/IEP and attends ARD meetings. 
  • F.I.E. (Full Individual Evaluation) This evaluation ensures the student has a disability and helps identify the special education/related services needed for the student. Evaluation data is included from the following assessments including langauge dominance, language proficiency, physical factors (visual, hearing, psychomotor abilities), emotional/behavioral, sociological, and intellectual.   The LSSP typically administers and creates the FIE.
  • REED (Review of Existing Evaluation data) This is similar to an FIE. The REED looks at the student and their data and/or reevaluate to see if the student continues to have a disability, will continue to need services through special education (or related services), identify any present levels of performance, and identify successful accommodations/modifications. Between the LSSP and special education teacher, they gather information from evaluations, interviews, observations, assessments, health/medical records and their FIE. 
  • PCI Education: Our special education curriculum which includes books, materials, assessments, and journals to teach students with disabilities at all ages and levels.

Today I'll be sharing my experiences with ARDs and IEPs! Prepping, organizing and administering an ARD is an extremely lengthy process especially if your are still getting to know the student at the beginning of the year.  What can you do to familiarize yourself with your new students to make prepping eaiser? 

  1. Read their IEPs & look through their folders.  
  2. If possible, ask previous teachers, aides and administrators about the students' strengths and needs. 
  3. Contact the parents.  At the beginning of the year, I send out a survey to gather information on the student that I might not have access to otherwise.  If you would like to send out a survey-check out the surveys here:
    Download getting to know you (beginning of the year) survey

    Download end of the year survey
  4. Observe. This was a tip that was given to me by the AU teacher on our campus.  She said, "The 1st week is about observation.  I like to observe my students behavior, see what I can use for positive reinforcement (food, technology, sensory, etc).  I also pair students up with aids and typically change them once or twice in that first week to see who works well with whom." Observation is the perfect baseline data to help you know your new students and document their behaviors at the very beginning of school. 
Now that you know your students, figuring out what to write in our ARD will be slightly easier. 

I typically start preparing for an ARD a month ahead of time, unless its a REED and you need to complete an FIE, I start 5-6 weeks in advance. You may be wondering why I start so early...well, I have found if I don't do a little here and there over time, it piles up, I get stressed and my work turns out sloppy.  Also, I like to give parents and staff the time to complete their paperwork in a timely manner which avoids piling deadlines on them at the last minute.  

Your district may have a different timeline-but I will share my process and you can adapt as needed.

  1. Print and fill out ARD meeting Prep Checklist for your upcoming ARD. You can purchase this checklist until 6/18/14 for $1 off!

    Download ARD checklist 

    • This is a simple way for me to keep track of who's coming to the meeting, who I've contacted about the meeting, who needs reminders and when I'll be getting paperwork back from everyone. I can also easily see which forms need to be filled out and I can check off everything instead of trying to remember what I have and haven't done. Here is an example of the form I filled out this year. Here are some snapshots I took to show you an example of how I fill out the 1st 2 pages and what I do w/ page 5(cut & staple to front of checklist).
      The small page stapled on top is Page 5. I put all the important dates (when things are due/should be turned in.) From this I can reference it in the next 2 pages of my checklist. 

      I use this to ensure the right people are invited with enough notice and if they can't attend we reschedule.

      This portion is used in every ARD (including REEDs).  In this example the mom has until 6/18 to turn in the notice.  If I don't receive the notice by then, I send out notice #2 and give a new deadline. 

I use this portion to track my REED documents the same way I do annual notices.  Once I get all REED documents, I turn them into the LSSP (the earlier the better.) Our deadline is 3 weeks before the meeting and since my parent turned them all in on the 18th, I went ahead and gave them to the LSSP as I have documented on the bottom.

    • When I initially send out ARD notices or REED paperwork, I attach this reminder to the front giving a deadline.  I have found I get forms back in a timely manner when parents/guardians understand I am giving them plenty of time to do their part, but I still need the forms back in order to complete my part. 
      Get a FREE copy of this reminder!

  1. As I am completing the ARD checklist, I begin working on the IEP in our district program.  This year, an average ARD took me about 4-6 hours to fill out everything into the program as well as finishing out data collection, progress reports, completing an FBA/BIP (if needed by collecting ABC data), creating a 'student led presentation with my student', gathering the students' portfolio and completing assessments (Brigance, PCI, etc.)
  2. I send home a reminder note and a draft of the paperwork a week in advance so the parent/guardian knows what will be covered and they can address any changes/issues in the meeting if needed.  I found it saves some time in the meeting if I have sent home a draft ahead of time. Here is the meeting reminder I send home:  
    Download meeting reminder cards

  3. After the meeting I follow our district procedures (as seen in my ARD meeting checklist). When I send home the final copy, I like to attach a thank you note thanking the parent/guardian for their time and attendance: 
    Download 16 editable meeting thank you notes!

Thanks for sticking with me on this long post. I hope you gained some useful information and will continue to do so during my ABC summer series. Stop by on Wednesday to read about day 2: B is for Behavior!

View all posts from this summer series! 


  1. I know what an IEP is, but the rest? ARD, FBA/BIP, PCI, REED, LSSP, I need a score card to keep up!

  2. Thanks for the comment! I have updated the post to include links and definitions! The acronyms have become so ingrained, it didn't cross my mind to include them in the post!