An Educator's Guide to the Student-Directed Approach
Getting the Most Out of IEPs
Special Education
With the first how-to guidebook on student-directed IEPs, elementary and high school educators will empower students with a range of special needs to take a lead role in directing their education, advocating for support, and shaping a bright, self-determined future.
69445 978-1-55766-944-5
2010 288
Available Stock

Student-directed IEPs are quickly gaining momentum in schools across the country—the proven benefits include higher academic achievement, enhanced student motivation, and increased communication and self-advocacy skills for students with disabilities. Now for the first time, there's a book that gives elementary and high school educators in-depth how-to guidance on making student-directed IEPs work for students with a range of special needs.

Packed with practical advice, helpful examples, and IEP resources for students themselves, this cutting-edge guidebook finally puts into print the best ideas for developing meaningful student-directed IEPs while adhering to legal requirements and evidence-based practices. Teachers will learn how to support students—regardless of their current skills and abilities—as they increase their own level of direction across every facet of the IEP process:

  • articulating strengths, needs, and legal rights
  • setting clear goals and evaluating progress
  • advocating effectively for themselves in formal settings
  • determining and securing appropriate accommodations
  • communicating preferences and interests
  • accepting responsibility for areas where improvement is needed
  • participating fully in discussions about post-school plans and needs

Destined to elevate future standards for the IEP process, this compelling and accessible book will help teachers ensure customized, highly effective educational plans for students of all ages. Teachers will empower students to take a lead role in directing their education, advocating for support, and shaping a bright, self-determined future.

Bring students into the IEP process with

  • More than 100 quick tips and practical strategies from teacher focus groups
  • Step-by-step guidance for increasing student involvement at any level
  • A wide range of case studies featuring students from ages 9–19
  • Helpful big-picture view of IEPs across 7 stages—from school-directed to student-directed

About the Authors




  1. Essentials of the Student-directed IEP Process
    Colleen A. Thoma, Sterling Saddler, Barbara Purvis, & LaRon A. Scott
  2. Involving Families in the Process and Multicultural Considerations
    Yaoying Xu, Barbara Purvis, & Judith E. Terpstra

I. Prior to the Meeting

  1. Student Awareness of the IEP Process
    LaRon A. Scott & Colleen A. Thoma
  2. Student Involvement in Assessment
    Colleen A. Thoma, Christina C. Bartholomew, & Ronald Tamura
  3. Student Involvement in Meeting Preparations
    Mary Held, Patricia Rogan, & Mary Fisher

II. The IEP Meeting

  1. Student Involvement in IEP Meetings
    Mary Held, Patricia Rogan, & Mary Fisher
  2. Quality Educational Outcomes and Annual Goals
    Carol Schall & Colleen A. Thoma
  3. Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance
    Renee Z. Bullano & Katherine M. Wittig
  4. Assistive Technology
    Shannon McManus, Frances Smith, & Sharon Jones
  5. Related Services
    Pamela S. Targett & Paul Wehman
  6. Transition Individualized Education Planning and Summary of Performance
    Elizabeth Evans Getzel, Ann Deschamps, & Colleen A. Thoma

III. Implementing and Evaluating the IEP

  1. Goal Implementation and Evaluation
    Dawn R. Hendricks, Colleen A. Thoma, & Kimberly S. Boyd
  2. Communicating with Team Members
    Beth A. Bader, Marsha S. Tennant, & Pamela S. Targett
  3. Evaluating Progress Toward Goals
    Pamela S. Targett & Paul Wehman
  4. Developing Next Steps
    Ronald Tamura, Judith Terpstra, & Colleen A. Thoma

Appendix: Resources

Mark Richardson & Colleen A. Thoma



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: Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities - July 1, 2011
"By including a diverse array of examples, practical strategies, and tools that teachers and adapt and modify to fit their classroom context and immediately use, Thoma and Wehman have created a book that has the potential to guide teachers through the process of beginning to support students to move along the continuum of the student-directed IEP process."
: The Midwest Book Review - The Bookwatch - July 1, 2011
"Packs in keys to making a student-directed approach work within the educational structure, and is a top pick for any education collection."
: Midwest Book Review - The Educator's Shelf - July 1, 2010
"An excellent supplement to education reference shelves."
Martha Snell, Professor, University of Virginia, Curry School of Education - April 1, 2010
"Makes me a believer that student-led IEPs are possible for students varying in age and support needs! . . . A serious guide for team members who want to make student-led IEPs a reality."
Martin Agran, University of Wyoming - April 1, 2010
"A comprehensive, practical, and in-depth guide on practices to promote student-directed educational and transition planning and self-determination."
Jim Heiden, Superintendent, School District of Cudahy, Past President of Division of Career Development and Transition, Council for Exceptional Children. - April 1, 2010
"Extremely well done . . . will be an excellent resource for teachers as well as parents as they work to promote student-directed IEPs."
Michael L. Wehmeyer, Professor of Special Education, University of Kansas; Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities - April 1, 2010
"Finally, a comprehensive and still user-friendly and practitioner-oriented guide to promoting student involvement in IEPs! . . . A rich source of information and support."
Carolyn Hughes, Vanderbilt University - April 1, 2010
"Begins by making a critical point: the IEP is more than just an annual meeting or a piece of paper. Thoma and Wehman walk teachers through the steps of actively involving students in their entire education program-from setting goals to evaluating goal implementation."