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The special education teacher’s role in IEPs

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the special needs student

Educators already know that every student learns a little differently. Lesson plans, therefore, are usually designed to pace the class so that most students can keep up, and for the few that may struggle, extra help can be available throughout the school year. When it comes to special needs students, however, lesson plans are designed per student instead of per class. After an evaluation of each student has been conducted, a team of educators with input from the parents and sometimes the student will develop an Individualized Education Program, or IEP. The goal is to implement a yearly learning strategy that will bring about the most learning success for the pupil despite the learning disability.

IEPs should be created by qualified teachers and school administrators who understand the unique needs of students who are stagnated by developmental delays, cognitive impairments or psychiatric issues. If you are an educator who has a passion for successful student learning and helping those with learning disabilities, completing a master’s degree in special education is a great step toward earning the necessary expertise to become a part of those IEP teams.

How a master’s prepares you to participate in IEPs

Those involved in the creation of Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, usually have a background in teaching, so when it comes to student learning, there is an established comfort level. Reaching students with learning disabilities, though, requires an additional layer that is covered during the completion of a master’s degree in special education. Expect to take courses that discuss individual differences, multiculturalism and the varying levels of learners so that you can be empowered to correctly deal with behavioral situations in addition to designing optimal lesson plans. Keep in mind that some pupils can be exceptional learners but suffer from panic attacks while others may deal with low-incidence disabilities.

A master’s program geared toward special education will also cover topics that relate to collaboration with your peers, school administrators and the parents of your students as well as laws and ethics.

Student success and Individualized Education Programs

As long as students qualify for the special needs education designation, Individualized Education Programs will be an integral part of their educational success and are required by federal law. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), if a student with special needs attends a public school, that school must develop an IEP that will be followed and assessed at regular intervals in order to ensure progress.

Developing an IEP for a student takes time. Due to the amount of testing and research necessary before the plan is actually put on paper and agreed to by the interested parties, it should not be a surprise that specialized credentials are required for participation. However, the necessary preparation to walk down this career path can be gained by completing a special education master’s degree.

Learn about University of Texas Rio Grande Valley online M.Ed. in Special Education program.


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