Special education teachers' perceptions of parent participation at the IEP conference within inclusive education
The purpose of this study was to assess the perceptions of special education teachers regarding parent participation during the IEP conference. More specifically, teachers' perceptions of parent participation during the IEP conference, previous training, as well as specific training needs as it relates to the special education teachers' role in facilitating the IEP conference were explored. Additionally, teacher perceptions of recommendations to rectify poor parent participation during the IEP conference within inclusive education were assessed.
METHOD. To achieve the purpose of this study, the researcher designed a Likert-type questionnaire. The population involved in this study was comprised of special education teachers from an intermediate school district in Southeast Michigan, who are participating in inclusive education. Subsequent to administrative and school board approval, the researcher collected completed questionnaires at the close of a special education meeting in person to enhance the return rate. Data obtained from the questionnaires were presented via percentages.
Findings. 1. Special education teachers perceive that parents are not active and equal participants at the IEP conference. Parents do not participate in the decision making and writing of the IEP. 2. While special education teachers have received some training, there are missing components or "gaps" in specific areas of teacher training which are equally critical to effectively working with parents, communicating, and facilitating the IEP conference. 3. Special education teachers perceive a need for teacher training in all skill areas relevant to working with parents, communicating, and skills pertaining to the special education teachers' role as conference facilitator. 4. Special education teachers generally perceive that inclusive education has positively impacted the IEP process. While teachers perceive that inclusive education could be the juncture to improving the IEP process, teacher training is perceived as a more effective means to improve parent participation at the IEP conference.
Conclusion 1. The issue of poor parent participation at the IEP conference has yet to be ameliorated and prevails within inclusive education. 2. Special education teachers lack training in specific skill areas related to their role as IEP conference facilitator within inclusive education, and recognize that teacher training is needed to enhance parent participation at the IEP conference. 3. The inclusive education reform movement provides a good opportunity to make needed changes in IEP conference procedures.