Building Parent Self-efficacy & Finding Purpose in IEP Meetings  


What just happened?  

What did I just sign?  

Did I ask the right questions?  

Did my child receive the appropriate label and services?  

These are questions that parents may ask themselves when leaving an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting. Parents often feel confused and overwhelmed by IEP meetings. The first step in building confidence when attending an IEP meeting is to master the experience. Studies have shown that an individual improves the belief they have in their abilities and competencies when they manage expectations about success and accept failure positively. Albert Bandura, a pioneer in social learning, termed this concept as self-efficacy (Bandura, 1994). A parent with high self-efficacy in IEP meetings are more likely to feel confident, ask questions, perceive failures as opportunities to try again, and collaborate well with a teamIn building self-efficacy, parents must first build their knowledge of IEP meetings. And what better way to do this than attending and knowing the purpose of IEP meetings.  

There are various types of IEP meetings that parents are requested to attend. The type of meeting will depend on what stage in the special education process your child is in. The process can be broken into five stages that will help determine the purpose of the meeting. See below.  

  • First Stage: A Student Support Team (SST) meeting is held because your child is having academic and/or behavioral difficulties. Interventions are put in place and monitored.  
  • Second Stage: Your child is not responding to the interventions from the first stageso an initial Individual Education Plan (IEPmeeting is held to determine what types of assessments (e.g. Psychological, Speech) will be conducted to determine if your child is eligible for special education services. 
  • Third Stage: All stakeholders including parents and school staff return to discuss the results of the assessments and if your child is eligible for services. If so, all members of the meeting agree on a specific classification (thirteen classification categories-see previous blog) 
  • Fourth Stage: All stakeholders return to create the IEP. The school professionals will discuss the specific goals and objectives for each service your child will receive, as well as the duration and frequency of services.  
  • Fifth Stage: All stakeholders will meet every year from the initial date the IEP was created to discuss progress and make necessary modifications. Every third year, new evaluations will be conducted and reviewed among all stakeholders 

Overall, knowing the purpose of the meeting may increase parent knowledge and possibly improve their confidence while attending the meeting. Each school is different, so parents should consistently communicate with the school to ensure their child’s needs are fully being met.  


By: Dr. Teneisha McIntyre 

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