ARD Meetings: 3 Tips for General Education Teachers
Updated: Aug 25, 2021
ARD (Admission, Review, & Dismissal) meetings can feel intimidating, especially if you are new to education or aren't regularly asked to attend one. It's totally normal to feel a bit of apprehension when one pops up on your calendar! Your class is a diverse learning community full of students with and without accommodations and/or modifications, students that learn differently, & students who are functioning at different academic, functional, & behavioral levels. You plan, direct, collaborate, facilitate, nurture, assess, counsel, & manage 20+ unique individuals for 8+ hours each day. As a general education teacher, the time you've spent with your students has given you excellent insight and knowledge about each student's progress.
This makes you a critical member of the ARD committee for your learners with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan)!
About ARD Meetings
Before attending an ARD meeting, you're going to need to understand some of the basics of why these meetings occur.
Any student receiving special education services must have 1 annual ARD meeting per year. An ARD meeting can be requested more than once per year, but the minimum is at least 1 per year. An ARD committee comprises several players: parent, student (when age-appropriate), admin, general ed teacher, special ed teacher, diagnostician, direct and/or related service providers, etc. All educational decisions regarding a student's SDI (specially designed instruction) and interventions must go through an ARD committee. That means that no single member can make a unilateral decision about a student's IEP goals, accommodations & modifications, delivery of services, etc., outside of the committee. Each person plays a vital role in advocating for the student, and you, the general education teacher, are no different.
ARD meetings serve many purposes:
Evaluate or re-evaluate a student's need for special education services and specially designed instruction
Develop & review the student's IEP (Individualized Education Plan)
Monitor academic, functional, and behavioral progress towards specific goals
Determine upcoming goals, interventions, and supports necessary to ensure that the student has access to the curriculum
Provide accountability to the rights afforded in federal law IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
As a general education teacher, your input can be constructive as instructional decisions and interventions are discussed among the committee.
Like, Boy Scouts prepared.
Be knowledgeable of the student's eligibility, accommodation, what's working and what's not working in your class, progress, the effectiveness of interventions and strategies you've employed in the classroom, etc. You don't have to be fluent in SPED, but you need to know what makes this student an individual.
Be knowledgeable of your district's meeting procedures & expectations. Every district that I've worked in has had a structured outline used as a guide to steer the flow of the meeting.
Be prepared to speak up about what you've seen and observed. If you have concerns, be prepared to articulate those objectively and concisely.
Most likely, you will be asked to provide feedback before the ARD meeting about how the student is functioning and progressing in your class. Be prepared to give specific information about the student's functional and behavioral skills and how the student is performing in the curriculum.
If you have questions or concerns about what a specific ARD meeting may entail, reach out to the SPED case manager or the diagnostician beforehand. They can definitely let you know what to expect from the tone of a specific meeting and its purpose.
Come to the meeting with the correct student in mind. It's important to make sure everyone is talking about the same student.
Be Specific and Articulate
During the ARD meeting, you will be asked something along the lines of "How is the student doing in your class?". This is your chance to showcase the student's abilities in your classroom. When you come to an ARD meeting & give specifics, you automatically provide your words with credibility.
You can be specific and articulate by:
Providing work samples with explanations of how the student completed the task & what accommodations and/or modifications were utilized
Sharing stories that help portray the dynamics & relationships within the classroom
Stating concerns factually and objectively
Elaborating on what part of these student's SDI is working and what parts need attention
Providing data to support your statements
This is also your chance to express any concerns you may have. These could include academic progress, skill acquisition, functional and/or behavior concerns, regression, etc.
Flex Your Knowledge
YOU are the expert in the curriculum or content that you're teaching.
YOU know more about the learning objective & outcomes for your class than anyone.
YOU know more about the dynamics, relationships, expectations, and challenges that YOUR class faces better than anyone else at the table.
YOU are the expert in the content that YOU teach.
SPED has been fighting for equity for a long time now. 45 years ago, a revolutionary piece of legislation paved the way for all students' educational rights: IDEA. One key piece of this legislation is every student's right to an education in the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment), the foundation of inclusive learning practices. The very bare-bones concept of LRE is that all students are included in learning experiences within the grade-level curriculum and among all peers, both with and without disabilities, to the maximum extent possible.
As a general education teacher, you've got a wealth of knowledge and experience in your unique craft. Come to an ARD meeting prepared to discuss what the curriculum looks like & how it is being made accessible to all learners.
Not that you'll be asked, but consider these questions:
What are you doing that's working for your student?
What isn't working, and what is a potential solution?
ARD meetings technically don't have a time limit but since several stakeholders have set aside time to be at the table, be respectful of everyone's time. This will allow the flow of the ARD meeting to continue promptly.
I'm certain that with some background knowledge and some preparation, you can walk into an ARD meeting with confidence, knowing that your input is valuable, respected, and used to help make a great IEP for your student!