Student Led IEP meetings are a great way to involve students in their own education and help them feel more invested in their success. Meaningful student involvement can occur during the IEP development process, even at the elementary level.

student led IEP meetings

What is an IEP meeting and why are they important?

An IEP meeting is an opportunity to discuss the educational goals and needs of a student with a disability. The IEP team members, which includes the student's caregivers, teachers, and other school staff, develop the student's IEP.

IEP meetings are required by law in order to ensure that all students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). They are typically held at least once per year, or as often as needed.

When an IEP is not in place, students are at risk of not having their needs met. The IEP meeting gives everyone on the team – parents, teachers, and related service providers -the chance to voice their ideas for supporting this student's education. They also provide an opportunity for the team to develop a plan that is tailored to meet the individual needs of the student.

IEP Meeting Tips

What are the benefits of student led IEP meetings?

When it comes to Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), students can and should have a voice in their own education whenever possible. Student led IEP meetings provide an opportunity for students – even at the elementary school level – to take on a leadership role.

Students make take the lead in discussing their goals and progress with teachers and parents. This gives them a sense of ownership over their learning and future goals.

Student-led IEP meetings also help to build communication and self-determination skills. As students present their own progress, they learn how to better articulate their thoughts as they advocate for their needs. These self-advocacy skills will benefit them throughout their academic career and beyond.

How can you prepare for student led IEP meetings?

If your reading this far, I'm hoping you're getting excited about this opportunity! As a special educator, there's a few things you can put into place to help this process run smoothly for everyone.

The first decision special educators should make is how much student participation will be occuring – will students be leading their own meetings or will you be providing opportunities for students to showcase their accomplishments and voice their preferences? Factors in these decisions may be student's needs, developmental age, and comfort level.

In my own experience, I had an elementary student who took an active role per a request from his family. I had never considered student led IEP meetings with younger students before this, so I had to quickly dig in and do some research. Spoiler Alert: I'm so glad I was pushed to do this – the experience was enlightening for all members of the IEP team!

Here's what we did to prepare for the IEP meeting:

  • Share the IEP Agenda in advance – this will allow students to know what topics will be discussed and who will be in attendance.
  • Review the goals that will be discussed at the meeting with students beforehand so that they understand why these goals are important. 
  • Decide together which sections of the IEP meeting students would like to take leadership of. With my first graders, we had students introduce the meeting, share the present levels (with support), and display a portfolio of student work samples. Students were also able to participate by asking and answering questions.
  • Use technology – create a PowerPoint presentation with student input. Your students may also decide to present the slide presentation during the meeting.
  • Role-Play – depending on your students' comfort level, you may want to have students practice introducing themselves and going over how to politely decline services that they do not want or need.

Are you ready to have your students be active participants in their own IEP meetings?

This Student Led IEP Meeting Kit comes with editable presentation slides that will support you and your students through the process. You'll be able to find a slide for meeting agendas, introductions, student strengths, goals, and more. Your student will be able to take an active role in their meetings by filling out invitations, a planning page, work sample/portfolio cover, and thank you notes. The kit even includes a guide for you and a suggested script for your students. 

When it comes to a student's education, it is important that they are involved in every aspect of it. IEP meetings can feel intimidating and overwhelming, but if the student is leading the meeting, it can help them feel more invested in their success!

Hi there.

I'm Jennifer!

I’m Jennifer and I was a special educator in the elementary school setting over the past decade. I entered the classroom every day dedicated to making learning inclusive AND engaging.

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