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A Maryland State Department of Education Resource

Transition Talks: Student Directed IEP Meetings

Group of teens planning for their future.

All transition aged students need to be a part of their IEP meetings, to do this effectively, students should be provided with direct instruction, accommodations, and opportunities to practice or role play their participation. Preparing students to lead their IEP meeting provides a perfect, real opportunity to learn and practice self-determination and self-advocacy skills. Transition Assessments can be reviewed so that students are comfortable discussing their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Practicing before the meeting gives students confidence, knowing when they will speak and what they plan to say.  Some important tips to remember when including students in their IEP meetings include:

  1. Consider how each student can lead his/her meetings and what accommodations/supports will be needed;
  2. Ask all team members to use language that the student will understand; and
  3. Acknowledge the student for participating.

Students who participate in their own IEP meetings often know more about their disability, rights, goals, and accommodations. Through this participation, they have the opportunity to practice many skills that will help facilitate their independence, their ability to overcome obstacles, and their ability to lead more self-determined lives.


Baltimore City – Benjamin Franklin High School 
Transition Coordinator: Shanieka Herndon School Admin: Shannon McKenna

What began as a project to help build self-determination for students has turned in to an everyday ritual known at our school as Self-Directed IEP meetings. We wanted our students to speak up about themselves during IEP meetings, where most often they just sat quietly.  During their pre-IEP meeting with case-managers, students create and practice delivering a PowerPoint presentation. SLP’s, School Psychologists, and Social Workers all practice with their students as well; at the request of the student. 

“I watched one of my students go from being so shy to even answer questions related to her IEP to 4 years later running her entire IEP meeting.  When I say running it I mean asking teachers for their input, sharing what she needed in classes to do better, what she needed teachers to do for her to succeed in that class. She advocated what she would need for college and for her future. It was beyond AMAZING.” (Teacher/Case Manager)

Questions to Consider

  • What are your current practices to ensure involvement of the student in the IEP meeting? 
  • What support does the student need to prepare for IEP meetings?
  • What are the systemic supports that will be provided to the student?


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