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Guide

The anatomy of an IEP for kids with CVI

Learn about the purpose of each of the key sections of an IEP and how to consider CVI

What’s in the IEP document?

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a tailored educational road map for your child. In order to be eligible for an IEP, your child must have a disability that impacts their access to their general education curriculum.

In this master document, your team will outline your child’s teaching plan. Your child’s IEP should be clear, concise, and transparent, with a Disability Impact Statement precisely explaining how CVI impedes their learning progress.

For typically-sighted peers, vision drives learning, and provisions within the IEP—interventions, modifications, supports, and service plans—should precisely meet your child’s level of visual functioning and sensory access.

IEPs differ from state to state, but each of them contains similar information as required by the IDEA. We’ll dive deeply into key sections of an IEP—present levels, goals and objectives, accommodations, services, and placement—in other parts of the CVI Now IEP Guide.

Remember that IEPs for kids with CVI go beyond the scope of reading, writing, and math. It’s important to remember that a CVI-rich IEP should consider the nine core areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum, and you should advocate for them! These are:

Make sure that CVI language is spread throughout your IEP, in every single section.

Gunjan, mom to Krish, 9

Here, you’ll find an overview of what’s contained in an IEP document—which can be quite overwhelming if you’ve never seen it before! In fact, it follows a predictable pattern. Remember, while the document can differ state by state, here’s how it’s typically organized:

Administrative Data Sheet

This is where you’ll find data about your child, such as birth date, address, and grade. If your child is over 18, they’ll need to check a box if they’re acting on their own behalf or if they have a court-appointed guardian or delegated decision-maker supporting them through the process. For kids under 18, this is typically the parent or guardian.

Parent/Guardian Information

The IEP outlines who lives with your child, your primary language, and whether you need an English-language interpreter or translator for the IEP. You are entitled to an interpreter or translator if you need one, and you have the right to translated documents and assessments.

Meeting Information

This section is important because it lists the date of your meeting, which drives all other deadlines, such as your next scheduled annual review meeting and your three-year evaluation. Remember, you are entitled to meet with your team annually to update or revise the IEP and are required to meet every three years for re-evaluation. As a parent, you can also request an IEP meeting anytime, especially if there is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Assigned School Information

This is where you’ll find the name of your child’s school, team chair (who typically serves as your contact person), and whether your district is fully or partially funding an out-of-district school placement for your child if your local public school can’t meet their needs.

Parent or Student Concerns

Here’s where you can outline your CVI-related hopes, goals, and concerns for your child’s education. As your child grows older, they should also contribute to this section. You might note expectations around assessments, TVI training, and even behavior (such as meltdowns or necessary breaks), and inclusion of the Expanded Core Curriculum.

Strengths

This is where your team weighs in on your child’s personal and educational strong points, including hobbies and interests. This can include your child’s personal attributes, successes, visual strengths, interests/motivators, and how they use compensatory skills (memory, context, auditory, and tactile cues).

Key Evaluation Results and Next Steps

Here’s where we get to the meat of the IEP: In this section, your child’s team should provide a detailed list of evaluation results as related to CVI. Remember, assessments drive your child’s IEP. We recommend a whole-child approach when conducting assessments, one which takes into account your child’s unique needs, strengths, and opportunities for learning. 

These results could include:

 If any other evaluations are necessary or planned, these should be included in Next Steps.

Vision Statement

This is a statement completed by the educational team that considers the next one- to five-year period following the IEP. Here, specify your goals and expectations for your child in the classroom (and in life), with respect to both the general education curriculum and Expanded Core Curriculum. As your child gets older, they should contribute to this section, too!

Present Levels of Performance (PLEP): General Curriculum

Your IEP needs to include a statement that outlines your child’s present levels of academic achievement, such as reading and writing, as well as activities of daily living.

The information here comes from testing, classroom observation, teachers—and you! The present levels should specify which areas of learning are affected by CVI: English Language Arts (ELA), History and Social Sciences, Mathematics, Science and Technology, or others.

The present levels for the general curriculum should list in detail how CVI affects your child’s progress, and which accommodations and modifications are necessary for your child to make progress. In some states, accommodations is its own IEP section.

Check out our article on CVI accommodations for an in-depth primer. (This list is meant to inspire inquiry about what works best for your child.)

It should outline how both your child’s learning content and delivery of that content will be adapted and/or modified. It should also explain how progress will be monitored, such as through progress reports and parent-teacher conferences.

In some states, there’s simply a statement at the end of each present level that asks if this area impacts the student’s academic achievement or functional performance. 

Present Levels of Performance (PLEP): Other Educational Needs

Here’s where you can address your child’s needs that go beyond the general curriculum. Again, this section should explain in detail how CVI affects your child’s progress, and how their learning environment and instruction will be adapted and/or modified as a result.

It should also explain how progress will be monitored, such as through progress reports and parent-teacher conferences.

This section might include:

Note: Some states don’t separate their present levels into two categories. 

Current Performance Levels: Goals

Here’s where your team outlines two things: what your child can presently do and goals for the coming year. Those goals should be measurable, with clear benchmarks and objectives. They could include:

In some states, after each goal, there should be an explanation of how progress will be monitored (data collection, informal procedures, observation record) and the measurement of success. For example, if given a classifier to sort, your child will sort three different classifiers (i.e., color, size, use) with 80 percent accuracy and independence. Read more about goals and objectives.

At the end of the entire goals section, your team must share how parents will be notified of progress in each goal area (through progress reports) and how often, either quarterly or when report cards are sent out. The IEP should then list the services that your child should receive based on information in their goal areas.

Read more about goals and objectives.

Service Delivery

Here’s where your team will lay out how your child’s services will be delivered, either in the classroom or in another location. This section should specify the corresponding goal, type of service, personnel, frequency, duration, and start and end date. Services are determined by the goal areas.

An IEP might also stipulate whether services will be direct or in consultation: In direct service, an educator works directly with your child on IEP objectives, in a group or individually; consulting means that a service provider can help other professionals meet your child’s IEP goals or objectives.

Read more about services and placement.

Placement Consent Form

This section outlines where your child’s services will be carried out, such as in the general classroom (known as a “full inclusion program”), a substantially separate classroom (“partial inclusion”), a separate day school, or a residential program. Your child’s IEP should stipulate the percentage of time they will spend in each place. It should also stipulate whether your child will receive extended school-year services, such as summer school.

Finally, you can add any documents you’d like to the amendment section of the IEP.  For example, fold in a document outlining what an accessible school day looks like, with ideas of supports and accommodations rooted in the CVI visual behaviors. These can include how to adapt the environment and learning tasks for each activity (math, reading, et cetera) so they don’t cause visual fatigue. For inspiration, visit the What’s the Complexity Framework.

Our son’s IEP is long. For an educational team to process it, we use a schedule to walk through a day in the life of our child. [It has] everything from getting on the bus in the morning to the specific adaptations that our child with CVI needs to be successful. We build it in as a one-page synopsis.”

Jim, dad to Krish, 9

Incorporating accommodations and methodologies into program planning requires comprehensive assessment and thoughtful team thinking. It also requires proactive planning and the flexibility to meet your child’s needs at any given moment. If your child only has had the CVI Range completed, here’s one example of a CVI schedule for the classroom.

Note: The format of the IEP document changes from state to state. The link above is an example from Massachusetts.


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