I had an IEP pretty consistently all through my years in the Virginia public school system. I received services for my low vision starting in kindergarten, and while I transitioned to a Student Assistance Plan in third grade, I received a 504 plan followed by another IEP in eighth grade. There are a lot of myths about having an IEP, and about the students who receive services. Here are seven that I have seen the most frequently.
You can’t be in the general ed classroom if you have an IEP
When people think of special education services, they often imagine a self-contained classroom where the students spend their days exclusively interacting with other people who have disabilities. However, that is only true for a very small percentage of students. While some might spend part of their day in a modified classroom, there are many students with IEPs that are fully integrated into the general classroom with the rest of their peers.
Students with low vision can’t get an IEP
When I received an IEP again in eighth grade, there were many staff members at my middle school that had no idea what category that my condition fell under. One of the thirteen categories listed was, literally, “vision impairment.” One of my other friends who also has low vision had a similar incident where their IEP was categorized under “other health impairment” because they insisted that students with vision impairments could not receive IEPs. Students with vision impairments can indeed get IEPs for their condition!
Students always get their accommodations
While the IEP is a legal document protected by federal law, that does not mean that people will always follow it perfectly, or even follow it at all. It is better to have the IEP than to have nothing at all, though. Read more about collecting documentation for IEP violations here.
Students that are gifted or on the honor roll don’t get services
Some staff members will insist that students who are gifted or who make high grades do not qualify for IEPs, as they are doing well in school. The reverse is also true, where students with IEPs are not expected to make high grades or be identified as gifted. There is actually a term for students who receive special education services and are considered gifted- twice exceptional, or 2e. By giving students the accommodations they need, they are more likely to thrive in the educational environment.
The case manager follows the student around
Case managers have several students, so they can’t follow every student around. The job of a case manager is to ensure that a student’s IEP is followed and to help them prepare for transition services. My case managers in high school put a very strong emphasis on self advocacy, which is something I very much appreciated. Read my post on five things your IEP case manager won’t tell you here. I also have a post on learning to self-advocate here.
Having an IEP will hurt college admissions process
Colleges do not know that you have an IEP unless you tell them. Having an IEP alone will not cause any issues when applying to colleges or the decision process. After all, IEPs expire the day the student graduates from high school- students will need a disability services file in order to receive services in college. Read more about creating disability services files here.
Everyone can tell you receive services
Teachers keep information about student IEPs confidential. No one will know you have an IEP unless you tell them. My fellow students noticed that I received large print, but no one questioned me that often about it or asked why everything was so large. This didn’t stop me from questioning why I had an IEP though- read my post about when I hated having an IEP here.
Every student with an IEP is unique, and there is no one specific image as to what a student who receives services looks like. If a student needs accommodations, they should get accommodations. Simple as that.