IEP Accommodations: Obtaining Classroom Notes

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For parents who are not familiar with this accommodation, “Copy of teachers’ notes” is course-related information and lesson notes for which the material will be used on future assessments.

These notes are provided by the teacher for exceptional students who qualify so that they may complete homework assignments and prepare for tests. When administered correctly, these notes work very well for students who learn differently and who have processing and/or motor skill challenges.

Children with certain disabilities might not be able to copy the notes successfully from the board leading to misinformation. This is where teachers’ notes are beneficial especially for math where the details in the equations are critical for curriculum understanding.

Here we go round in circles

This IEP accommodation is one that I love to hate. Not that I don’t agree many students need these — on the contrary. I love them because there is a clear benefit to them, but I hate them because obtaining them tends to be very frustrating for students and parents alike.

From my own experiences, I found the problem of actually receiving the daily notes exasperating for my child. Teachers have good intentions, but things happen. Not that it’s anyone’s fault, it’s just the way it is.

There always seems to be varying ideas between the teachers and the parents on what actually qualifies as “notes.” For example, if a teacher asks students to take notes on a video or textbook material, it would seem obvious that these be given by the teacher.

While some teachers would agree, some others might not. Parents might say the video or textbook does qualify in case there is a project or essay due. We live in an era where textbooks are scarce and sometimes cannot be taken home. In addition, video notes are important for further understanding of the lesson. It always seems to be a hit-or-miss situation. The consistency factor is daunting.

No, thank you

One area where teachers’ notes might get dicey is when the words “peer buddy” or “note-taker” is written into the IEP. Watch out for this one for it will soon become a big bag of confusion and should be deleted immediately from your child’s IEP.

There are two specific reasons parents should dismiss the idea of a peer buddy or note-taker.

First, if the note-taker is absent one day, your student is left without the notes unless the teacher assigns it to another student. Your student will be left without notes or possibly handwriting they simply cannot decipher. Let the frustration begin. How can parents be sure the notes a peer buddy takes will qualify as correct or useful for a test anyway?

Second, student records are private so asking a peer buddy to take notes contradicts the confidentiality associated with the IEP because that classmate is not part of the IEP team. It doesn’t take long for a “bully” to figure out someone must take notes for another classmate.

What can parents do?

During the IEP meeting, when each class’s accommodations are discussed, clarify these issues ahead of time. There might be classes such as Art or Music that will not qualify, yet classes such as History, English, Math or Science will definitely require notes.  

Clarification up front will eliminate any animosity between the teachers and parents at a later date.

Technology? Yes, please

The good news is that most schools have updated their technology so that teachers are able to print from laptops in the classroom or email notes to the student for printing at home. Also, many teachers have their own websites now and notes are available for all the students there.

There are so many ways to obtain the notes that parents could actually use these ideas to help teach their child ways to advocate and to be responsible for his or her own class work.

The rules for these notes are not set in stone. Parents will find a happy medium by working with each teacher individually. Having the notes available is one thing; clarification and teamwork will make it easier for procurement.

C.C. Malloy is a disability advocate and steadfast supporter of special needs children. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. For additional support, please visit her website, Bizigal's Exceptional Blooms.


Categories: A ‘Special’ World, Education, School, Special Needs