Teachers' perceptions of the usefulness of Individual Education Plans (IEP)
Since 1997 federal special education policy mandated that all classroom teachers take part in planning and implementation of Individualized Education Plans (IEP) for students with disabilities. This legislation has given teachers new responsibilities because it requires greater participation in the IEP process. The purpose of this study was to examine teachers' perceptions of the usefulness of Individualized Education Plans (IEP).
Eighty seven certified Miami-Dade County Public School teachers, 60 general education teachers and 27 special education teachers were surveyed using an updated version of Rheams' (1989) The Teacher Perceptions of the Usefulness of IEPs. Subjects completed a survey form containing a demographic cover page, 18 Likert-scale statements and 3 open ended questions. This study looked at differences in perceptions by teacher group affiliation (general and special), grade level taught (elementary and secondary), and years of experience (<=5 and >5 years). The dependent variables were teacher preparedness; feasibility of IEP implementation; relevancy of IP to classroom instruction; and legal, professional and personal accountability with regard to the IEP.
Results of the Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) revealed that (a) special education teachers held a more positive perception of overall IEP usefulness than general education teachers, (b) special educators held more positive perceptions concerning issues of feasibility and preparedness, (c) elementary level teachers viewed the IEP more positively than secondary level teachers, specifically in the areas of preparedness and feasibility.
Findings of this study indicate that general and secondary educators have not embraced the legislation and incorporated it into their planning and instruction. These findings provide policymakers, institutions of higher education, and school administrators with insight as to how to better translate policy into classroom instructional practice. Consideration should be given to implementing (a) honest communication and shared decision making with regard to IEP directed curriculum and instruction, (b) updated pre and in-service IEP development and implementation training, and (c) opportunities for collaboration and increased plan time, especially on the secondary level.
0529: Special education