Individualized Program Plans: the secret to success!

So we are coming to the end of September which means a major deadline in the Special Education world. IPPs are due.  An IPP is an individual program plan designed by a team of educators to better meet the needs of a coded student.  Although I explored IPPs as a part of my education degree, I really didn’t write one until my fifth year of teaching.

The first school that I worked in had an IPP coordinator that wrote the IPP and then told us how to implement it. She was amazing, but the plans that she wrote became another thing that I had to do. The strategies and tracking that she asked me to incorporate into my class were pretty basic and I didn’t really understand why I had to use them. Because I didn’t write the IPP myself and truly explore the process, I didn’t own it. It wasn’t mine so I barely did it.

The second school I worked in had no coordinator, but instead had a counselor who gave us ideas. I was so overwhelmed when told I would be writing five IPPs and five RPAs (regular program adaptation plan). I hadn’t really had any experience writing them but I was up for a challenge. I asked a colleague and  was told to look at their previous IPP or RPA and change the wording. YEP…copy the old one and don’t worry about it!!!

Well, I did just that. Luckily, I noticed that there were some checklists and tracking sheets that accompanied the original work. I wrote anecdotal notes and tracked behaviors.  Imagine my surprise when the counselor informed me that we were being audited, and that the auditors didn’t like my wording and wanted to see goals that were more focused on the child’s diagnosis. For a week, by myself, I read cumulative files and researched coding on the internet. It was a scramble to save the funding that came with the IPP. I cursed myself for letting such an important thing slide. Just because my particular school atmosphere was lackadaisical about IPPs, didn’t mandate that I should be.

My next assignment found me in an educational setting where every student has an IPP. The six students in my class live together in a group home and have severe behaviour issues. The first thing I did when I found out that I was to work here, was learn about IPPs, their importance and the best way to make them successful. Alberta Education has a great resource that I found to be extremely helpful: /ipp.aspx The Learning Intervention Manual from Hawthorne Educational Services, Inc is an excellent resource as well. Using these two tools has helped me write my IPPs with confidence.

Truthfully though, good resources and confidence do not make IPPs successful. This year I asked the kids to pick their own goals. I had my list of things I thought they needed to work on, and with very little guidance on my part, they identified the same things. The truth is, kids know where their problems are! After they identified their goals, I wrote the IPPs using kid friendly language. My next step is to have the students look at the strategies and add their own.


See, the problem with doing the IPPs any other way, is that the kids won’t “OWN” them, just as I didn’t own them in my first school. If the kids know their goals, they are better able to work toward them! Now that the kids and I are working together, IPPs aren’t the big secret they used to be. It lends itself to the critical thinking portion our district is pushing. It will be easy to embed goals into each lesson. There is a different energy in our class. I think this year, my IPPs will really work!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Little Leaders – Choosing their own path. « Learning to Lead, Inspiring to Change
  2. Trackback: Little Leaders – Choosing their own Path | Letting People know what happens at Brightbank Academy

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