Increase Growth with Student Led IEP Meetings

Student led IEP meetings can be scary to think about.  There is already enough stress around the IEP meeting itself.  There’s planning, data collection, parent concerns, input from an entire team of people… It seems that there wouldn’t be more time to prepare and plan for the student to take a more active role.

(For free templates click here)

However, it can be so BENEFICIAL, EMPOWERING, and MEANINGFUL for the student to take an active role in his or her education.  The benefits of student led IEP meetings really are endless.  Teachers sing, dance, make real world connections all to bring meaning to the subject they are teaching.  Many special education students are given progress monitoring assessments every week to two weeks.  They usually don’t understand why they are doing these assessments and they have no meaning.  No one wants to do well on something they don’t understand or find meaningful and important.

Some of the many benefits for students include:
  • Increased confidence
  • Public speaking skills
  • Bringing meaning into all the assessments (and therefore increased scores)
  • Reading and writing practice
  • Understanding of the process
  • Self-advocacy
  • Self-reflection
  • Metacognitive skills (students are thinking about their disability and how it affects how they learn)
  • Self-reliance
  • Improved growth due to student responsibility for his or her education

Of course, student led IEP meetings are not for every special education student.  As a professional, you will have to make the determination of which students would be appropriate to begin implementing student led IEP meetings.

If you are just starting out, you won’t want to implement student led meetings with every student on your caseload.  You’ll want to feel out the process and decide how you can implement them with a few students, and increase each year.

Considerations for the special education teacher before beginning:

  • Do you have administrative support?  Administrators need to understand the benefits and why you are interested in implementing student led IEP meetings.  They will probably feel more comfortable with some students over others.
  • What students is this appropriate for based on their unique needs, abilities, and situations?   If you are expecting a meeting with many service providers and angry parents, it may not be a fit for that student.  Your professional expertise will allow you to make the decision about when it is appropriate.
  • What parts of the meeting will the student be involved in?  The student isn’t going to present ALL of the information, but they can be involved in presenting their own progress on the IEP goals for the previous year.  They can be involved in discussing why they are receiving specially designed instruction and how it will benefit them so they can be successful.
  • Is it age or developmentally appropriate for the student?  I encourage the use of student led IEP meetings at the elementary level, however, this may be more difficult than when the student becomes a member of the IEP team at an older age.

Tips for starting:

  • Make students aware of their behavior/academic deficits and create a plan for student self-awareness of these issues and how the student and teachers will work together to create success for all.
  • Choose the role the student will have.  PREPARE AND PLAN!  Students can present their progress in IEP goal areas and Specially Designed Instruction.  This is a good starting point for students to take an active role and understand their education.
  • Have the student leave for sensitive discussions.  Just because the student is presenting some information, does not mean they have to be part of the entire meeting (if they are not OFFICIALLY part of the IEP team)
  • Prepare student data to present to them and have them fill write and practice the information they will present.  In the FREE RESOURCE CENTER there are forms and templates that will aide you in this process.
  • Ensure that students understand the meaning of their progress monitoring assessments and how they are used.  Even a basic understanding of this will work wonders.
  • Discuss with administrators and have a plan for how the meeting will be run, especially if the student is elementary/late elementary age.
  • Discuss with service providers to get their feelings in letting the student present some of the information.  You may want to stick to strictly academics to begin with.
  • Keep everything as positive as possible.

If you are interested in implementing STUDENT LED IEP MEETINGS or if you need some templates, please check out my


where you will find resources for different types of student empowerment strategies and academic areas.

For more progress monitoring help and resources for the special education teacher click here!

I would love to know your experiences with student led IEP meetings or if they are something that you would consider!


2 thoughts on “Increase Growth with Student Led IEP Meetings

  1. I am in love with this post! Self-efficacy and empowerment is a life skill. Student-led IEP’s give students ownership over their own learning!!!! Sharing this all over the place!

    • says:

      Thank you Tracy! I couldn’t agree more! This is one of my favorite topics. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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