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Help Set Your Child up for Next Year's Success

If your student receives special services, here's what you should know.

The school year is winding down and, for most parents, that means prom pictures, graduation parties, class trips and lots of other fun and exciting activities. Some of us have the additional pleasure of attending our child’s annual PPT (Planning and Placement Team) meeting each spring. Fun and exciting? Not so much, but extremely important because this meeting sets the groundwork for all the service your child will, and won’t, receive next year.

For most, the annual PPT is a matter of “same conference table, different year.” We are told what services will be granted for the next school year based on the most recent testing with a little year-end review tossed in. However, there are many considerations you should be aware of, and prepared for, in order to make sure your child receives the most appropriate accommodations:

  • Read (or re-read) the report — In every neuropsychologist report, there is a section on recommendations, probably in the summary. Read it. It contains valuable information on what the school should provide for your child. If you don’t understand something, Google it, or ask someone who does.
  • Re-testing — If your child’s testing was done more than three years ago, consider re-testing. I know private testing is expensive but, if the last time your high school sophomore was tested was in second grade, you need to do it again. If the school did the testing, it should automatically be done every three years but, if it has been three years and nobody has mentioned it, make sure you do.
  • Changing schools — Each time your child moves on to a new school, and sometimes a new grade, there are most likely different resources available. Prepare yourself by finding out what they are before the PPT by talking to your child’s current special education teacher and contacting the special education department of the new school. I find that other parents are also a valuable resource. Be sure to research appropriate grade level accommodations for your child’s diagnosis.
  • Elementary to middle school — When a child goes from one teacher all day to switching classes, it’s a whole new world. You want to make sure academic support is built into the schedule, preferably every day, and all teachers get a copy of the IEP. If something has worked in the past, such as having a teacher check the planner at the end of the day, ask for it to continue.  
  • Middle to high school — This is when a student straddles the line between needing help and needing to become more independent. As a result, self-advocacy becomes absolutely necessary. It is also a time when many kids refuse services, such as going to another room to take a test, because they do not want to appear different from their peers. Asking teachers to be discreet when administering accommodations can be added to the IEP, although most teachers will do it anyway.
  • Resource room vs. co-taught classes — Having had my son, and many of my students in both, I strongly advocate co-taught classes, if they are available. If not, make sure your child is not pulled out during core courses. In fifth grade my son was pulled out of science to go to “resource.” Guess how he did in science that year?

An overview of the PPT process for parents of newly diagnosed students:

For what to expect and how to get through your first PPT go to:

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