This month’s Bright Spot comes from districts that participated in the Student-Directed IEP series with Kit Casey and Stephanie Wozniak, RSE-TASC Transition Specialists, and Naomi Brickel and Jenna Lequia, from the Hudson Valley Special Education Parent Center. These districts were Blind Brook, Mahopac, Mount Vernon, North Salem, Ossining, Pearl River and Pelham.

What were students with disabilities able to achieve?

Student achievements are perhaps best characterized by quotes from students, a parent and an educator:

  • Student: “I can now make my own choices in my programs, tell others what I’d like to accomplish and how I’m going to do it.”
  • Student: “I cannot believe that I learned so much about myself.  And once I knew so much about myself, I also knew that I had to be a part of the IEP process.  I know I can be a leader and someone who can have a say in what it is I want to do.”
  • Parent:  “It gave my daughter the confidence and strength to become who she really is and know what she can do….”
  • Educator: “By helping students truly understand the IEP process and their learning needs, [they can] use that understanding to better communicate with their teachers and families, and carry the self-advocacy skills with them to post-secondary education or as they choose a career path.”

What practices or systems made this possible?

Teams of educators engaged in shared learning throughout the year on ways to increase students’ self determination skills, including participation in their own educational planning process. They developed and implemented strategies that empowered students to become actively engaged in developing and implementing their IEPs.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

Both research and our own experience show that, when districts implement a student-directed IEP process, student achievement, self-determination, and motivation all increase.