Webinar Recap: Making Your IEP System Work for You
March 24, 2016
Is your IEP system just an IEP system? If the answer is yes, you may want to check out our recent webinar, “Making Your IEP Work for You: 5 Questions to Ask of Your IEP System” This is one of the 5 questions Accelify CEO, Alex Brecher, asked during Tuesday’s hour long presentation in which he explored the idea that in today’s technological environment, IEP systems can and should be much more than a repository and planning tool for student IEPs; they should be responsive, adaptable high tech systems that help school districts manage the entire special education process from start to finish, while at the same time creating efficiencies, saving them money, and supporting data-driven decision making.
40 Years of IDEA
Alex began the webinar by taking the temperature of where we are today, 40 years into IDEA. He explained that while we have made tremendous progress as a nation in educating students with disabilities (SWDs), IDEA now serving nearly 7 million students and including more than 50% of SWDs in general education settings more than 80% of the day, the nation is failing these same students when it comes to achievement, graduation, and discipline. The great majority of special education students (between 80-93%) are still failing to meet basic standards of proficiency in math and literacy, and far fewer SWDs are exiting high school than their general education peers.
Having the right IEP system in place can help districts better support these students by providing visibility beyond compliance into things like the reliability of service delivery, the effectiveness of services and interventions, student progress, and resource allocation.
What should my IEP system be able to do?
Despite the fact that only 15% of personnel time is spent in the planning phase, few IEP systems go beyond planning to track and monitor the execution of those plans, which accounts for 85 percent of personnel time. IEP systems, Alex explains, should do MUCH more than support IEP planning and compliance. Your IEP system should be able to, among other things:
- Create and manage 504 Plans
- Manage the pre-referral and evaluation process
- Manage the RtI process
- Manage plans for gifted students
- Track the delivery of services against the IEP
- Estimate resource needs based on IEP information
- Monitor student progress
- Allocate personnel efficiently
- Help service providers cut down on travel time
- Validate Medicaid billing claims against the IEP
- Increase reimbursements
What functionality should my IEP system support?
So what should you look for in an IEP system that can do all of this? First and foremost is adaptability. An adaptable IEP system is what will truly allow you to move beyond compliance and planning to impact results by: allowing for easy customization without additional costs or vendor involvement; supporting process management, not just document management; and giving YOU the capability to adapt to changing regulatory and business environments with ease and efficiency
You’ll want to pay attention to specific functionality when looking for an adaptable IEP system. Here are a few of the features a truly adaptable system will include:
- Workflow Based: An adaptable IEP system will be built around your business process and will be responsive to changes in your workflow. Your IEP vendor should begin their implementation by reviewing your current workflow, identifying ways technology can improve it, and then building your custom IEP system around the workflow.
- Advanced Data Access: An adaptable IEP system provides you access to the data you need to drive decision making, not just support the decisions you are already making. You’ll want to make sure your adaptable IEP system includes real-time dashboards around key performance indicators, customizeable build-your-own reports, and instantaneous drill-down capability for visibility at every layer without the need for vendor intervention.
- Easy Form Creation: The ability to create new forms at the click of a button is critical to being able to quickly and easily adapt to changing regulatory and “business” environments. Every IEP system should provide administrative users an easy way to create new forms without additional cost or vendor involvement.
- Customizable User Permissions: User permissions are an important aspect of maintaining compliance, student privacy, and optimal user experience. Ensuring individual users have access to exactly what they need in the system is critical to ensuring that your staff not only use the system, but use it correctly. Your IEP should support as many user roles as necessary in your environment and should allow for limitless customization when it comes to permissions.
- Interoperability: Perhaps the most important feature to look for in an adaptable IEP system is interoperability. In order to make meaningful decisions using data, your IEP system must be compatible with and integrate with any outside systems you and your staff are using, including assessment tools, SIS systems to sync student information and data for state reporting, Medicaid billing software, and more.
Implementing a new IEP system is an enormous, labor intensive effort, but if you choose the right IEP system the pay-off for students and staff can be immense. As the nation moves from an accountability system of compliance to one of results, having an IEP system that allows you to demonstrate the true impact you are having on students is becoming more critical than ever.
To view a recording of Alex’s full presentation, click here. You can also view the presentation slides below.