Understanding the IEP – Measurability

 In In the School System

Measurability is a concept that seems so elusive in so many IEPs that we see at Roots Autism Solutions. It seems like so many of these highly important documents are filled with words like “John tries really hard” or “Sam is always out of her seat”. While the child might be putting forth his best efforts or out of her seat a good portion of the day, the subjective terminology leads to confusion and misinformation.

Interestingly, measurability is quite simple to define, and really should not be difficult for IEP writer to incorporate. When we use measurability in this context, we are defining it as something the IEP writer can observe and count. When statements in the IEP are written measurably, the writer is providing concrete data, numbers, totals, that help us understand exactly what is happening with the child. Sounds simple enough, right? But getting to that data requires data collection, and if it is not written in the IEP sometimes that means the IEP writer does not have the data.

Taking our earlier example, the writer who shares “Joe tries really hard”, faces a challenge because one cannot measure how hard a child is working. This would be something that cannot be counted, for many reasons. A teacher cannot step into the mind of the child and measure effort quantitatively. The teacher could implement a rubric system, measuring specific components of work completion. The teacher could then measure the number of times the child achieved each component of the rubric.

In terms of behavior, at times we read IEPs that state our children with autism are exhibiting out of seat behavior in the classroom. Teachers, at times will write that the child is “frequently” or “constantly” out of his seat. These words are not measurable, which leads to an IEP that does not fully describe the needs of the child. Rather, a teacher needs to take data for the specific behavior that is occurring in the classroom. That data, countable and quantitative instances of out of seat behavior, is the information that belongs in the IEP.

As ABA providers, we are wholly accustomed to taking data related to behaviors. Your therapy team speaks quantitatively when they are in your home sharing progress or helping you understand the data during a parent training. Daily, we at Roots are working with parents in Chicago and the suburbs, not only providing in-home and community-based ABA, but we are also giving you the skills you need to be ready to speak about measurability at your child’s IEP meeting. We are here to attend the meeting with you, and support your efforts to make meaningful change for you child, as we do at home everyday.

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