Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures students with learning differences are provided a free appropriate public education tailored to their individual learning needs, as detailed in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) – a document crafted by an IEP team of teachers, therapists, administrators and families.
The number of students with IEPs is growing, having doubled in the past forty years to approximately seven million. The number rises by about 100,000 annually. Much about the process, however, is stuck in the past. Paper records, lack of or misuse of data, misunderstanding about the requirements of the IEP, ignorance about the capabilities of students with learning differences -- all contribute to an environment where the law is often toothless. Parents have two choices in trying to ensure their child gets the supports to which he or she is entitled by IDEA – they can rely on teachers, who are not legal or legislative experts and are often actively discouraged from providing individual supports, or they can hire, at great expense, an attorney or advocate to represent the interests of their child.
IEP Genie software offers a third option. IEP Genie provides parents the tools they need to participate meaningfully and collaboratively with the school team in crafting and administering their child's IEP. Similar to software like TurboTax, IEP Genie takes a government mandated form (anywhere from 50 – 100 pages in length when customized) and guides users through it, enabling them to personalize each section according to the needs of their child and reminding them of the supports available under IDEA.
For example, if a parent inputs difficulty with handwriting, IEP Genie asks if the child is receiving occupational therapy (OT). If so, what are the goals of OT? How much OT does the school provide? What supports are needed for classwork? A particular type of writing implement? A keyboard? A slanted desk? And so on. If supports are not being provided, IEP Genie would ask if the parent wanted to request an OT evaluation and provide sample language for a letter or email to send to the school district requesting an evaluation.
IEP Genie simplifies the process, educates parents and provides a collaborative format for the sharing of information between the family and the school team.
This information is an invaluable asset to the school teams, who retain their own attorneys to ensure that they are meeting the myriad requirements of the IDEA mandate for each student.
In addition – unsurprisingly -- studies have found that teacher bias affects the quality of an IEP. Standardizing the process by providing parents and students of all backgrounds and types of disability an inexpensive, easy-to-use tool helps address these inequities.
IEP Genie supports the relationship between families and the school team, saves time and financial resources for parents and school districts, and assists the IEP team in meeting the requirements of federal law. Most importantly, it helps ensure that a quality public education is provided to children of all abilities.
Children with learning differences who require differentiated instruction as put forth in an individual education plan, and their parents. Also, school districts, educators, administrators and other professionals.