Shared Decision Making in the Special Education Process

Batya 5.18 posterThe special education process requires that parents make informed decisions about their children’s education.  How do school professionals promote parents’ informed participation in decision-making? Currently, many health care professionals (including here in NH) are using the Shared Decision Making (SDM) model to help patients make informed decisions in their medical care. This model supersedes older, authoritarian models of professional-patient interaction and has been shown both to build patient trust and improve patient outcomes. Application of the SDM model to decision-making in special education holds promise of achieving the goals of building family-school partnerships and improving results for students and their families. Dr. Batya Elbaum, recognized national expert on family-school partnerships in special education, recently visited NH and describe a model of SDM that has clear applicability to school professionals’ engagement of families in decision-making related to their child. Through interactive discussion with families including three key steps in the practice —Team Talk, Option Talk, and Decision Talk — SDM can be implemented in the context of IEP meetings.