Teachers need more help in implementing IEPs

By Jared Silber, CFCC Student Fellow (2019-2020)

We often think of teachers as the smartest, most valuable employees in our society. Teachers teach our children basic math, grammar, and valuable lessons that often follow the student for their entire lives. Teachers are often responsible for disciplining children who act out in class. However, when it comes to Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), teachers often have a hard time implementing them correctly.

There are many reasons why a teacher may have difficulty implementing an IEP. Teachers already have a heavy workload and IEPs can be very long and technical. As a result, a teacher may not have enough time to read the entire document and may only read the accommodations section[1]. IEPs are sometimes not removed from the filing cabinet and reviewed because of their complexity[2].

Another reason why some teachers may have difficulty implementing IEPs is the fact that, in many schools, special education teachers carry most of the burden in the IEP process[3]. This stems from the fact that teachers may not be afforded the opportunity to provide their insight on what accommodations will help the students within specific classrooms. As a result, there may be gaps in knowledge between IEP team members and the student’s teachers[4].

When I was in high school, I had an IEP. I noticed the gaps in knowledge between my special education teachers and my regular education teachers. For example, I had a teacher who forgot I had an IEP and would often get frustrated with me when I had difficulty completing assignments. When I was given a 0, I had to speak with my special education teacher to clarify to the regular education teacher the accommodations I needed and to which I was entitled. The problem was eventually corrected, but it required me to go through many steps.

As a CFCC Student Fellow, I want to encourage better communications between the IEP team and regular education teachers. I hope to develop a power point presentation to share with the schools that informs about the IEP process and how to ensure that the student’s needs are met.

[1] Melissa Corto, “Beyond Compliance: What if the IEP Is Not Enough?”, March 2, 2018.

[2] Melissa Corto, “Beyond Compliance: What if the IEP Is Not Enough?”, March 2, 2018.

[3] Schecyl M. Santiago- Lugo, “A Review the Literature on Problems and Challenges Encountered by Educators During the IEP Process”, The College at Brockport, 2018.

[4] Schecyl M. Santiago- Lugo, “A Review the Literature on Problems and Challenges Encountered by Educators During the IEP Process”, The College at Brockport, 2018.

8 thoughts on “Teachers need more help in implementing IEPs

  1. Really interesting post Jared! The problem is so complex because many teachers care and recognize that their students have different learning styles and requirements, yet the system does not adequately teach them how to handle them, so they end up being too frustrated or busy with other things to care. As a Truancy Court Program Mentor, i think we can relate this issues to some of the 6 causes of Truancy such as Neglect or Academic Failure. If children don’t feel that they’re needs are being met at at school, or they are struggling to achieve academically, they will not see the value of coming to school.

    • Hi Laura, thank you for your comment! Your comment illustrates how training teachers on how to handle IEP students can in turn reduce truancy.

  2. Jared, thank you for sharing your personal story in this post. Working as a TCP clerk in a school where many of the TCP students have an IEP, I can’t agree with you more that better communication is needed between the IEP team and regular education teachers. Every school needs to have an IEP team place that is willing to take the time to thoroughly read through IEP documents and educate the regular education teachers of the needs of each IEP student. Unfortunately, at many TCP schools, my TCP school included, there is a lack of funding and resources for IEP students. In fact, during our past table session, the TCP school’s social worker told us about how she had been forced to take on the role of the school’s IEP chair and that quite frankly, “she was doing a bad job at it.” She had never received any training on IEPs prior to being assigned the role of IEP chair. Not only is it a problem that many students are moving through the Baltimore City School system undiagnosed, it is even a bigger problem that many students who have been diagnosed are being labeled “troubled students” without even being given the accommodations that they are entitled to. How are these students to be able to perform at their full potential if they are being deprived of the resources that will enable them to do so?

  3. Everything you said in this post resonated with me. While I did not have an IEP, I noticed how stressed and overworked teachers were when i was younger. Often the class as a whole suffered because there were more students with IEPs than those who did not. My teachers struggled to bounce back and forth between the groups of students and ultimately, it worked against them.

  4. Great post Jared! I completely agree with you regarding the problems that some teachers have when it comes to implementing an IEP. Many teachers are given so many tasks that it makes it difficult to be able to fully read and understand how to teach a student with an IEP. I think that more education needs to be given to teachers about students with an IEP so that those instances of frustration don’t occur as often. Thanks for sharing.

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