The IEP contains many pages and each page is interrelated. What appears on the Present Levels page is supported on specific pages throughout the IEP. For instance, any area of identified needs is supported with what is written on Special Factors. Once the IEP team completes present levels the next conversation that falls into place is the development of goals to help the student progress academically, socially and physically. If the student is going to be sixteen years of age prior to the next year’s meeting, the Individual Transition Plan is developed next followed by the Special Factors page.
Some would argue that the Special Factors page is one of the most important pages because it reflects, Present Levels page, IEP goals, where the student is receiving services (both general education and special education), provider responsibilities, assistive technology, aids and services, and classroom accommodations. It is truly a page that represents what the student’s school day will be like and the accommodations needed in order to complete work assignments and keep up with his/her peers. Typically, on this page, the student’s visual and hearing impairments, if any, are also noted.
Accommodations and modifications are often found on the Special Factors’ page. They are
two completely different things that are frequently confused: accommodations for the classroom responds to instructional, quiz and test adaptations, home work and note taking skills. Accommodations allow the student to demonstrate what he or she knows without changing the skill that is taught in the classroom or measured in testing situations. Accommodations do not reduce learning or performance expectations. More specifically, they change the manner or setting in which information is presented or the manner in which students respond.
Some examples of accommodations are testing in an alternative environment, clarification of directions, questions read out loud, note taker, access to teacher notes, etc. The area of accommodations is not meant to be a grocery list but instead, is supported with documentation of the student’s needs. Modifications on the other hand, actually do change the target skill. They often reduce learning expectations or affect the content in such a way that what is being taught or tested is fundamentally changed.
If the IEP Team determines that student’s behavior is interfering with his/her success towards academic success and completion of goals then it is also indicated on the Special Factors page. Sometimes the behavior that is adversely affecting work completion is incomplete homework and that should be noted. However, if the student presents with disruptive behaviors and they are moderate in intensity and/or duration, then a behavior support plan is warranted in addition to a behavior goal. If the behavior is severe, then the Team looks at developing a FAA (Functional Behavior Assessment) with the school’s psychologist.
Special Factors is an important page of the IEP and it provides a picture of what the student’s educational day looks like. Please contact me with any questions about any of your IEP pages.