The Parent Perspective

Role and Involvement in IEP Process

Sheryl G. Muir
University of Northern Colorado
Fall 2000

Past studies about parent involvement

Epstein et al (1997)

  • Parental involvement improves student academic progress
  • Parental involvement improves parent attitudes toward schools & teachers

Deaf ed. studies about parental involvement

  • Specific personal or communicative involvement with their child
    • Eye contact
    • Quality of interactions

Past studies (continued)

Deaf ed. studies

  • Parental decisions
    • Cochlear implants
    • Communication mode
  • Early intervention programs
    • Change to more parent-focused services
Deaf ed. studies
  • Early intervention programs
    • Change to more parent-focused services

Most recent deaf ed. studies

  • Kluwin & Corbett (1998)
    • Parent characteristics related to parental involvement in educational programs
  • Powers & Saskiewicz (1998)
    • Parental involvement of deaf students vs. hearing students
  • Calderon (2000)
    • Impact of parental involvement on language development, reading skills, social-emotional development

Purpose of this study

  • Pilot a way to discover parent perspectives about the IEP process and their involvement
  • To help Sheryl get her feet wet with qualitative research
  • To use lessons learned from this to improve the next, bigger, study

Study questions

  • How involved do parents feel in the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process?
  • What are parent perceptions about their role in the IEP process?


  • Phenomenological approach
  • Interviewed 2 parents
    • Convenience sample
  • Taped and transcribed
  • Member check of transcription
  • Coded and analyzed
  • THOUGHT and wrote


Parent Learning Process

  • Learned how to play the game
  • "that one time we came dressed like trailer trash to our child's initial staffing because the teacher who called said, 'We need to meet to talk about your child.'"



  • Parents know the value of having a good relationship with special ed. and general ed. teachers
  • "Knowing we are both working for the child regardless of our differences" should be the foundation for the relationship



  • Communication needs to flow both ways
  • Teachers should not allow themselves to become "calloused" because it prevents them from fully communicating with parents, especially those new to special education (veteran nurse analogy)


  • Definitely NOT able to generalize anything
  • Doesn't hurt educators to scrutinize their interactions with parents and try to understand the parent perspective
  • More studies (random selection of parents, larger n, more interviews, focus groups?)