Examination of high school adolescent discourse during Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings through the lens of self -determination

Patricia Louise Staab, Fordham University


Research suggests that adolescent students classified as learning disabled benefit from participating in their IEP meetings; however, when the students are present, they are silent and passive attendees. As in the ethnographic study conducted by R. Rogers, this researcher has attended IEP meetings, listened to the students, and documented their talk so the students can be heard. The purposes of this hypothesis generating study were to examine the high school students' knowledge about their roles in IEP meetings both prior to and after their IEP meetings, to document the manner in which students participated during IEP meetings, and to examine the relationship between the students' behaviors during the meetings and their scores on the Arc's Self-Determination Scale using the students' discourse. To fulfill these purposes, data were collected via audiotapes of student interviews and IEP meetings, questionnaires completed by IEP team members, and field notes taken by an observer during the IEP meetings. An analysis of the transcriptions of the interviews and meetings, the questionnaires, and the field notes was presented as four mini-case studies which documented the discourse of all the participants of the IEP meetings with a focus on what the students say. The following hypotheses are based on an analysis of the data: (1) Adolescent students classified as learning disabled exhibit limited participation and few behaviors associated with self-determination during their IEP meetings. (2) The relationship between the score achieved by the adolescent student classified as learning disabled on the Arc's Self-Determination Scale and his or her behavior at an IEP meeting is inconsistent. (3) Alternative procedures for conducting IEP reviews may prove to be sites in which greater self-determination skills are evidenced. The current content and process of an annual meeting to review the IEP document inhibits the participation of both the student and the parents. Educators need to realign the focal point of IEP meetings and listen. The importance and uniqueness of this study is that the students' voices are presented clearly and distinctly for all to hear.

Subject Area

Special education

Recommended Citation

Staab, Patricia Louise, "Examination of high school adolescent discourse during Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings through the lens of self -determination" (2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3420964.