Annual Review and Triennials
What is the Annual Review?
"Meetings shall be conducted to determine eligibility and to develop, review and revise the pupil's education program. Parents shall be notified in writing of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend. Meetings shall be scheduled at a mutually agreed upon time and place. Notice of meetings shall indicate the purpose, time, location and participants." [New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC) 6:28-2.3; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 300.146
The annual review is a meeting to develop, review and/or revise a student's Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Although IEPs can be reviewed and revised anytime throughout the year, most Individualized Educational Programs are reviewed annually in the spring. Before your IEP/annual review meeting, it is necessary to prepare so you can participate on an equal basis with all other participants. Keep in mind that you are the expert about your child.
This means that:
The school must notify you of the meeting early enough to ensure that you will have an opportunity to attend. [34 CFR 300.346(a)(1)]
The notice given you by the school district must indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting. If one of the purposes is to consider transition services, the notice must indicate that. [34 CFR 300.345(b)(1) and CFR 300.345(b)(2)]
The notice must also identify who will participate in the meeting. If transition services are to be discussed, the notice must indicate that the school will invite your child and identify any other agency that will be invited to send a representative. [34 CFR 300.345(b)(1) and 34 CFR 300.345(b)(2)]
The school must attempt to schedule the meeting at a time and place agreeable to you and the school. [34 CFR 300.345(a)(2)]
The school must take whatever action is necessary to ensure you understand the proceedings at the meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for you if you are deaf or if your native language is other than English. [34 CFR 300.345(e)]
Who? According to federal and state regulations, the following people must be invited to attend the IEP meeting:
The case manager and/or other member(s) of the Child Study Team [28 NJAC 6:28-3.6]
One or both of the child's parents (subject to requirements in CFR 300.345);
The child's teacher(s). If the child has more than one teacher, State policy or law may specify which teacher should participate;
A representative of the school other than the child's teacher. The public agency representative present at the IEP meeting must have authority to enforce decisions made at the meeting and commit resources; [34 CFR 300, app C -300 #13]
Other individuals, at the discretion of the parents and district board of education;
The child, when appropriate.
If you cannot attend in person, the school must use other methods to ensure your participation, including individual or conference telephone calls. [34 CFR 300.345(c)]
If one of the purposes of the meeting is the consideration of transition services for the student, the school must also invite the student and a representative of any other agency that will be responsible for providing or paying for the transition services [CFR 300.344(c)]. "For all students who are 16 years or older, one of the purposes of the annual review meeting will always be the planning of transition services, since transition services are a required component of the IEP for these students" [CFR 300.344 Note 2]. New Jersey law requires transitional planning at age 14.
What? The purpose of the annual review meeting is to review and revise if appropriate the basic plan, instructional guide, the placement, and services based on input from you and the professionals working with your child. Also, participants make recommendations for the next year's program based on progress made in reaching the goals and objectives stated in the previous IEP and on the child's current needs. (If you are concerned that your child is not making anticipated progress, you can ask for an IEP meeting at any time during the year.)
When? At least annually and also under specific situations:
By June 30 of a child's last year in a preschool program.
By June 30 of a student's last year in an elementary school and includes input from the staff of the secondary school.
During a 21 year old student's last year in an educational program and includes input from the parents, the case manager, the pupil, if appropriate, and other individuals as appropriate to develop nonbinding written recommendations concerning services and resources available in the community.
What is the Triennial Reevaluation?
A reevaluation to determine the status of the student is conducted at least every three years and sooner if needed. At this time the student will be assessed once again to determine if his/her needs, abilities and/or learning difficulties have changed. [NJAC 6:28-3.7; IDEA 34.300-584]
"The Child Study Team shall determine which child study team members and/or specialists will conduct the evaluations. The evaluations shall include assessment by at least two members of the Child Study Team." [NJAC 6:28-3.7; 34 CFR 300.534 "multidisciplinary assessment"] For students with auditory disabilities, an audiologic and speech and language assessment must be conducted.
The reevaluation procedure shall follow the same guidelines as those for initial evaluations NJAC 6:29-3.4(d) 1-6,] which includes functional assessments.
Parents are notified in writing of the evaluation plan. [IDEA 34.300-532]
Advocacy Tips for Three Year Reevaluation
Be sure that your evaluation questions are incorporated in the evaluation plan and that your information about your child's abilities, interest, learning styles and needs are included in the evaluation and discussion of appropriate educational and related services and placement.
Reevaluations must be conducted when a change in classification or significant change in placement is being considered. A reevaluation is not required for less significant changes. However, the district must give you prior written notice at least 15 days before it makes any changes in your child's education or related services program. [NJAC 6:28-2.3] They cannot change anything covered by the IEP without a new IEP meeting.
IF you disagree with the findings of the Child Study Team you can request an independent evaluation. Call SPAN for additional information.
Please note that the initial evaluation, annual review and three-year reevaluation may consist of reports from different child study team members. School districts are only required to get parental consent at two times:
a) consent to conduct an initial evaluation and
b) Consent to implement the initial IEP document [NJAC 6:28-2.3; IDEA 34 CFR 300.504]
IF there is a disagreement in placement at the time of the annual review or three-year reevaluation, withholding a signature will not stop the process. However, you can stop the process by requesting mediation or due process within 15 days of the recommendation with which you disagree. [NJAC 6:28-2.3]
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you receive a copy of the new IEP (even in draft form) before you leave the meeting. [34 CFR 300.345(f)]
Part of this material was derived from the NICHY News Digest, Volume 3, Number 2, September, 1993.