IDEA Annual Reviews and Learning Disabilities

Why annual review meetings are held and what they aim to accomplish

A parent-teacher discussion.

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What is an annual review for students with learning disabilities? The review is a formal meeting required by the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act that is conducted by the school for students receiving special education services.

The reviews must be conducted at least once a year. As with other individual education plans (IEP) team meetings for students with learning disabilities, schools must provide the parents of these children advance notice of the annual review meeting.

Get the facts about annual reviews, including their purpose and how they benefit students with learning disabilities and their families, with this breakdown of the formal meeting.

Purpose of Annual Reviews

The annual is conducted to review your child’s special education program at least once a year to discuss the progress they are making toward their IEP goals. During the meeting, parents of the child and faculty members can discuss if your child has exceeded goals in some areas, met other criteria or fell short. With this information, new goals can be set for the following school year, and the IEP can be revised accordingly.

At the annual review, teachers and parents of the student can also decide which specially designed instruction would most serve the student.

What Happens in the Meeting

At annual review meetings, typically IEP team members introduce themselves and explain their roles in your child's programs. Parents' rights are explained, and parents can ask questions about any concerns they have.

In addition to your child's progress toward IEP goals, IEP team members review your child's progress in the general curriculum. During this time, any new information about the child is provided by the parents and team members. The team discusses the coming school year and addresses any anticipated needs.

If your child did not meet IEP goals or regressed in skills, the team decides how that will be addressed.

A team member keeps minutes of the meeting and includes the minutes in the meeting summary. Copies of the team summary are provided to the parent.

What Happens If Parents Disagree With the Team's Decisions?

Although the team is required to consider parents' opinions and input, sometimes disagreements occur. When that happens, parents may request more information about the point of disagreement or consider requesting assessment or testing for a specific area of concern, such as academics or behavior.

If you have reason to disagree with the school's evaluation results about your child, you can consider asking for an independent evaluation to be conducted. You can also request time to gather more information needed to discuss your child and arrange a future meeting.

If it is clear no resolution can be reached, consider other ways of resolving the conflict, such as a mediation or due process hearing.

Before conflicts escalate, however, consider that your child's teachers and IEP team members probably have your child's best interests at heart.

If you're convinced that the team's goals will work to the detriment of your child, it's your duty as a parent to see that your child gets the education they deserve.

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.