Updated: Jun 21
In order for students with special needs to have the best education possible, it is important that their voices be heard. This means that the people that work with them the most must be included in the IEP process.
The IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is a document that outlines the specific needs of a student and how they will be met. It is designed by a team of professionals who work with the student, including parents or guardians.
Paraeducators, also known as paraprofessionals, are a vital part of the special education team. Often, they are the ones who spend the most time with the students, getting to know them on a personal level and understanding their individual needs. This makes them the most qualified to speak at an IEP meeting about the student's progress and what future goals might be the most beneficial. Paraeducators play an important role in advocating for the student and ensuring that their individual needs are being met. They can provide valuable insight into what is working well and what areas need improvement. In addition, they can offer suggestions for modifications or accommodations that would be helpful in the classroom. The input of the paraeducator should be given serious consideration when developing an IEP, as they are the experts on the student's individual needs.
5 Reasons Paraprofessionals Should Be Included in the Iep Process
They have a unique perspective on how an individual learns best which is often different from teachers or therapists.
They know how to work with individuals who may not have words to communicate but still need assistance.
They can hear and understand the value of milestones for each individual.
They have seen the student in many different settings so they know how to give input on what works best.
They may be able to suggest accommodations that the child or adult would prefer such as large print books or assistance with toileting.
Paraeducators Are The Best Source Of Information
It can be difficult for special needs children and adults to speak up for themselves and express what they need, so it's critical that their voice is heard by those who are designing the IEP. The paraeducator can help with this process by giving feedback on the academic, social, and emotional support needs of the individual as well as their parents' perspectives on what they want for their child.
The role of the paraeducator is to support the educational process and help students reach their full potential regardless of any disabilities or needs that they may have. This can be done through academic assistance, motivation, classroom organization, and behavior management. This training means that the paraeducator is uniquely qualified to give input on the educational process. The para educator also knows the student better than anyone else due to long-term interactions, so their insight is especially valuable.
The Benefit Of Including Paraeducators
Paraeducators are in a unique position to provide feedback. If you work with paraeducators now, consider asking them how they might be able to contribute more effectively during this part of the design process by giving insight into academic support needed along with classroom organization tips and behavior management strategies. If not, please reach out so we can discuss ways our team of experts can help you do your job more effectively.
Since individuals with disabilities will continue to be entitled to free appropriate public education (FAPE) until they turn twenty-one years old, it's important that special attention be paid to their unique needs. This includes considering the feedback of someone who can support them academically and help them fulfill their potential.
As stated by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, "For many students with disabilities, school staff members are among the most important people in their lives." Including a para-educator in the IEP process gives students with disabilities a voice, while also giving them the opportunity to be heard by their most important people.
Paraeducators Have A Crucial Role To Play
A paraeducator can play a critical role in the IEP process by helping special needs children advocate for themselves. They are able to provide feedback on the academic, social, and emotional support needs of the individual as well as the perspectives of their parents. This information is invaluable when designing an IEP that meets the unique needs of each child.
For individuals who have autism, ADHD, a learning disability, or a speech impairment the IEP process is even more challenging. The para should be included in not only helping with communicating what the child/adult wants for themselves but also helping advocate for them by speaking on their behalf as well as providing support and teaching strategies to those designing the IEP.
Having a para educator involved in the IEP process can not only make it easier for those designing the plan to come up with one that will work well but also gives individuals who have disabilities an opportunity to be heard. It's extremely important that each individual has their voice included even if they don't have quite enough words to say so themselves. Paraeducators are uniquely qualified to give feedback on not only what the child or adult needs but also what works best for them.
Should Paraeducators Attend IEP Meetings?
YES! Paraeducators play an important role in supporting students with disabilities in the classroom. While they are not required to attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, their input can be invaluable in ensuring that students receive the services and support they need to succeed. In many districts, however, paraeducators are not reimbursed for their time if they choose to attend IEP meetings. As a result, many paraeducators feel that their input is not valued by the district and may choose not to participate in these meetings.
One way to ensure that the valuable perspective of paraeducators is included in IEP meetings is to prepare a report of key information for the IEP team. This report can highlight the student's strengths and needs, as well as recommend specific services and supports that would be beneficial. By taking this step, paraeducators can ensure that their valuable input is included in the decision-making process and that students with disabilities receive the resources they need to thrive.
Thank you for reading! If you're interested in becoming a para educator, please reach read below for more information. We would be happy to see you get started on your journey!
10 Tips on How to Become a Paraeducator
Get the right education and training. Make sure you have the necessary qualifications to work with special needs children and adults.
Be patient and understanding. These individuals can be challenging to work with, but it's important to remember that they are just like everyone else and deserve to be treated with respect.
Be flexible. Things can change quickly with these students, so it's important to be able to adapt to new situations quickly.
Develop a good relationship with the student's parents. They are your biggest advocates and will be able to provide valuable information about their children.
Be a good listener. This is one of the most important qualities for a para educator, as these individuals often need someone to listen to them and provide emotional support.
Be willing to advocate on behalf of the student. Regardless of whether or not you agree with what's in the IEP, it's up to you to help ensure their rights are being respected by everyone involved.
Know how to communicate effectively with school staff members and administrators about the student. The more you can educate them about a student's needs, the easier your job will be and the fewer conflicts you'll have with other staff members.
Be willing to work as a team player. It's important for everyone involved to have a good relationship so they can work together effectively as a team without conflict or animosity getting in the way.
Be aware of the current laws and policies regarding special needs education. This will help you to understand what your student is entitled to under the law, as well as be aware of any potential changes or shifts in policy that could affect them or the process itself.
Know how to use IEP software so you can effectively track the student's progress. This will help make sure you are able to provide an accurate assessment of their needs and how they change over time, which is important for helping get them to get what they need for maximum success.