FACILITATION OF PARENT ROLE IN PROGRAM PLANNING FOR HANDICAPPED CHILDREN
STEINBERG, LOIS R.
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The presumed role of the parent as an active participant on the planning team for developing a child's Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is unclear. Although legislation provides a basis for parental participation in educational decision-making, it is questionable whether parent inclusion should be substantial, as in ongoing participation with the team, or if such inclusion should be cursory to fulfill legal mandates. Research recognizes that parents need preparation for their role in IEP development. Parents need both information and practice so they can improve the quality of their participation as decision-makers, and can increase their satisfaction with the IEP process.;This study investigated systematic preparation of parents for involvement in educational planning. Parents of students in special education programs in a suburban school system were variously involved and studied. Ten parents attended a four week training program about the IEP process; 10 had experience in informal conferences with their child's special education teacher, 10 parents received both training and experience, while 10 parents received no intervention at all.;Data were collected in three ways. First, parent participation at IEP review conferences was observed, and coded categorically. Parents also completed questionnaires prior to and following interventions. Finally, observers rated affective climate at each conference.;Results focused on the individual parent role at the IEP conference. Findings indicate that intervention in the form of either formal training or ongoing experience can assist parents to be effective participants in program planning for their handicapped children. Either intervention gave parents a greater understanding of the IEP process itself, and also enhanced parental role perception and ability to participate in the process. Intervention facilitated parent interaction, provided them with the knowledge and skills necessary for participation, and parents in turn indicated satisfaction with their participation. All parents were satisfied, but trained parents evidenced this to a greater degree. Results were discussed in the light of possible implications for school personnel, especially the need to train school staff in team interactions and open communication skills.
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