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Consensus Among Experts in Pediatric Occupational and Physical Therapy on Elements of Individualized Education Programs

Dole, Robin L. PT, EdD, PCS; Arvidson, Kristin MS, PT; Byrne, Eilish MS, PT; Robbins, Jodi MS, PT; Schasberger, Britta MS, PT

doi: 10.1097/01.PEP.0000083046.14713.EF
Research Report

Purpose The aim of this study was to establish consensus among a sample of expert occupational therapy and physical therapy practitioners on characteristics necessary for individualized education program (IEP) objectives to be educationally relevant, measurable, and appropriate in content.

Methods The Delphi technique was used to survey 38 board-certified clinical specialists from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Nine physical therapists and 29 occupational therapists agreed to participate.

Results The results of a three-round survey process revealed six characteristics of measurability, six characteristics of educational relevance, and seven characteristics related to content that were agreed on by 75% or more of the respondents.

Conclusions While IDEA is being readied for its next reauthorization, knowledge of these characteristics may be helpful to related service professionals in their participation for developing higher quality IEPs.

The authors report the results of a survey establishing consensus among OTs and PTs regarding goals written for an IEP: they should be child-focused, functional, designed to enhance the child's ability in school, and free of professional jargon; they should include the use of valid and acceptable measurement tools, relate to a specific long-term educational goal, and be achievable within the timeframe specified in the IEP.

Institute for Physical Therapy Education (R.L.D.), Widener University, Chester, Pa; Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (K.A.), Boston, Mass; Children's Hospital at Stanford (E.B.), Palo Alto, Calif; Roanoke County School District (J.R.), Roanoke, Va; and Special People in the Northeast (B.S.), Philadelphia, PA

Address correspondence to: Robin L. Dole, PT, EdD, PCS, Institute for Physical Therapy Education, Widener University, One University Pl., Chester, PA 19013. Email:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.