Home > Uncategorized > IEP (Individual Education Plan) for SEN (Special Educational Needs) – Is it a valid & reliable measure of a Childs Progress?

IEP (Individual Education Plan) for SEN (Special Educational Needs) – Is it a valid & reliable measure of a Childs Progress?

1993 saw the introduction of the Education Act, this set out a code of practice for the identification and assessment of children with special educational needs.  In 1994 the Department of Education recommended IEP’s as the designated method for measuring and monitoring the progress of children with special needs in various educational settings.  But how effective are Individual Education Plans and do they actually measure what they are supposed to measure?  Thus, obviously the educational progress of a child, evidence on the validity and reliability of the IEP is conflicting.

Butt and Scott (1994) claim that the IEP provides evidence to support educators are meeting with statutory obligations to children with SEN as set out in the Framework for the Inspection for Schools, Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) 1993/1995.  But this claim is fiercely debated by educators who hold contrasting views on which approaches may be best suited to special education.  In fact there are those who believe the IEP has no place within the education process.

The argument against the use of measures such as the IEP is largely rooted in rejection of the behavioural approach to education which is thought to underpin the concept.  Furthermore, because behaviourist approaches are essentially viewed as having origins in reductionism.  The most fundamental implication for education being that learning objectives should be set and thus accordingly, skills, concepts and knowledge should be broken down to enable understanding of the whole.

However, those in support of constructivist approaches to education like Goddard (1997) vehemently contest the application of the behavioural approach to human learning.  He argues current behavioural approaches to SEN, specifically the use of the IEP takes an over simplistic and reductionist view by rationalising a child’s education to the need for meeting objectives.  Rettinger, Waters and Poplin (1989) claim these methods discount other aspects of education of equal value such as creativity, socialisation and child led learning.  Moreover that complexity of human learning should be viewed as a process rather than fragmented stages as endorsed by the use of IEP’s, Popplin (1988).

Nevertheless the use of the IEP within special needs education still dominates, despite growing evidence weighted against its continuation.  Forness (1988), claims reductionist approaches of the past decade have failed to provide satisfactory special education.  Poplin (1995), suggests laws that endorse individual plans also set limits for special education.  Weist and Kreil (1995), intimate teachers feel constrained by the rigid objectives of the IEP.  Goddard (1995), proposes the IEP is evidence of failure to improve special education.  Evidence from Iano (1996),  reinforces educational measures of the IEP are not succeeding in improving standards of learning. 

In January 2011 the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) commissioned a new study by researchers from Birmingham University and St Patrick’s College of Education, Dublin.  The research aims to investigate and address how best to measure the progression of children with special educational needs and in doing so it will consider international practice.  The NCSE’s report that led to the commissioned research highlighted a serious lack of evidence on the outcomes of current methods applied to special education.  The commission appears to be pioneering research which could ultimately bridge the evidence gap within special education and it may provide long awaited answers of how best to measure and monitor a child’s educational progress.  Nevertheless, it is incredible to think that this oversight is only now being addressed.  The need for further research clearly validates scepticism in the viability of paradigm’s and measures such as IEP presently in use within special education.

ESPEN Act 2004, states “people with special educational needs shall have the same right to avail of benefit from appropriate education as do their peers to assist children with special educational needs to leave school with the skills necessary to participate, to the level of their capacity, in an inclusive way in the social and economic activities of society and to live independently and fulfilled lives”.

A final thought.  If the validity and reliability of the underlying paradigms and measures of special education are questionable and there is presently is no evidence to support these measures lead to effective outcomes.  Can it truly claim to be delivering?


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Perhaps a more sociological issue than a psychological but an important one nonetheless is providing the right support for children with Special Educational Needs in order to provide them with an equal chance in education.

    The most important issue to be considered in the success of such programs and acts introduced for this purpose which you mentioned in your blog is individual differences. Every child will find different types of support more helpful to thier acheivement and success than others. Therefore, no one measure is valid and reliable for every child who has learning difficulties.

    Having been diagnosed with Dyspraxia myself at age 7, i found the most helpful kinds of support to be mentoring, extra time and simply being resaured that I can work at my own pace. But everyone is different and it also depends on the difficuly from which the child suffers.

    So, perosnally I think the behaviour and personal academic progress of all these children is too complicated for any one measurement. Perhaps a usefu research method here is the use of interveiws or questionaires with parents, children and teachers involved.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Research should be free from limitation but not regard.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: