RSETASCStudentsVoiceIt’s clear that the more our students with disabilities participate in their IEP meetings, and the more they learn to self-advocate, the greater the possibility that they will be successful when they graduate high school. How do we as special educators encourage our students to engage in their own career planning and learn how to self-monitor their own IEP goals?

Last year the RSE-TASC and the Parent Center collaborated on an exciting new pilot project called “The Student Directed IEP.” During four two-hour sessions, ten districts learned together how to encourage their students to participate in part of their annual review meetings. Teachers, administrators and support staff looked at evidence based practices and selected a few students from each school to work with on self-advocacy skills.

The highlight of the project was when the students presented their PowerPoint presentations and videos to the larger group of professionals and parents. Many of us in the audience found ourselves getting teary-eyed as students with varying degrees of disabilities spoke eloquently about their strengths, career-goals and dreams. As one dad in the audience said as he was leaving, “This was the first time in my son’s school career I got to see him in a positive light!” We are continuing to work on this project with an additional nine districts participating this year.