Hess, Robyn S.
College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Leadership, Policy, and Development: Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Education Leadership
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
Effective collaboration among family professional partnerships (FPPs) and work groups such as a multidisciplinary individualized education program (IEP) team has been identified as a critical characteristic in developing a specially designed program for students with a disability. Unfortunately, educators often do not feel prepared to interact and collaborate with colleagues, parents, and community partners due to limited instruction and practice during preservice coursework or in-service professional development workshops. Thus, there continues to be the need for guidance on how to prepare preservice and licensed educators to collaborate effectively within IEP team meetings. An emerging IEP meeting practice called facilitated IEP (FIEP), utilizes a trained facilitator to guide IEP teams through a collaborative meeting framework where all team members’ input is valued, heard, and considered in the creation of the student’s IEP. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences and perceptions of educators who attended the FIEP CPR training and identify associated outcomes experienced during a meeting once the trained educators implemented tools and techniques from the training. Using qualitative interview methodology, 11 educators described their experiences with learning and then applying the FIEP strategies. Participants identified four training characteristics used to maximize the participants learning potential creating an engaging learning environment, benefitting from experienced knowledgeable trainers, providing interactive opportunities to practice new skills, and encouraging interactive opportunities to collaborate. Additionally, the research identified effective procedural techniques used during FIEP meetings to increase team collaboration and construct a compliant IEP. Participants overwhelmingly agreed the FIEP improved the traditional IEP process through increased team preparation and participation, which in turn increased team members’ understanding of the IEP process and content of the IEP, and the strengths and challenges of the student. Finally, six common tools and techniques emerged as effective structural tools used to create an organized, collaborative discussion: (a) agenda, (b) outcomes, (c) parking lot, (d) norms, (e) group memory, (f) roles, and (g) facilitative language. The implications for practice resulting from this study fall into two main categories, training, and implementation. One strong theme that emerged from the data was the need for more structured opportunities to learn how to collaborate effectively within the school setting and in particular, during the IEP meeting. The information provided gives input to teacher preparation programs and in-service professional development leaders when planning coursework or workshops in critical need areas. To ensure the training opportunities honor the unique needs of the adult learner, suggestions for addressing these characteristics are also provided. Once the educators receive training, preservice programs and state and local districtlevel agencies would benefit from following a structured implementation process that ensures FIEP team members benefit from the merits of the facilitative structures and strategies and that the facilitators implement with fidelity. Specific recommendations are outlined in the Implications for Practice section. The study adds to the growing body of literature on the effectiveness of FIEP meetings used as a proactive IEP meeting framework. However, because the FIEP process is a relatively new practice, it is critical to explore perceptions from more diverse cultures and conditions. Additionally, gathering data from various stakeholders such as the family and the student will help to address common barriers known to limit stakeholder participation, and collaboration.
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