The IEP Process

The IEP Process

IEP Definition

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP. This is required by a Federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Purpose of an IEP

The IEP has two general purposes:

  • to set reasonable learning goals for a child, and
  • to state the services that the school district will provide for the child

Members of an IEP Team

The IEP is developed by a team of individuals that may include the following:

  • Parents
  • Special Education Teacher
  • General Education Teacher
  • School District Representative Authorizing Resources
  • Professionals such as a Psychologist, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, and Adaptive Physical Education Teacher to Interpret Student Assessment Results
  • Others with Knowledge and Expertise Related to the Student
  • Parent-invited professionals, advocates, service providers, family and friends
  • Student with the disability when appropriate, and when transition matters are discussed

Scheduling the IEP

  • A child’s first IEP meeting must be held within 30 calendar days after it is determined, through a full and individual evaluation, that a child needs special education and related services. Qualified disabilities are listed in IDEA.
  • Members of the IEP team agree on a time and place to meet, and a written invitation is issued by the school.
  • IEPs are scheduled annually thereafter to determine whether the annual goals are being achieved, and must be revised as appropriate.
  • Every 3 years another assessment is completed for the child; this is called a Triennial Evaluation.

Contents of an IEP

Each child’s IEP must contain specific information. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, describing how the child is currently doing in school and how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum
  • the child’s strengths and needs
  • annual goals for the child based on what parents and the school team think he or she can reasonably accomplish in a year, including who will be responsible for the goal and how the child’s progress will be measured
  • the special education and related services to be provided to the child, including supplementary aids and services (such as a communication device) and changes to the program or supports for school personnel
  • the amount of instruction time the child will receive separately from nondisabled children, or in programming different from the general education student programs
  • the child’s participation in state and district-wide assessments, including what modifications to tests the child needs
  • the delivery of services and modifications such as when they will begin, how often they will be provided, where they will be provided, and how long they will last

Common Special Education Acronyms

IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004
IEP – Individualized Education Program
IEE – Independent Educational Evaluation
BIP – Behavior Intervention Plan
PBS – Positive Behavior Supports
FBA – Functional Behavioral Assessment
LRE – Least Restrictive Environment
FAPE – Free Appropriate Public Education
PLAAFP – Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance
ESY – Extended School Year
CBM – Curriculum Based Measurement
Source: Center for Parent Information and Resources

10 Tips For A Successful IEP Meeting

  1. To help you feel more comfortable, build a positive relationship with at least one team member of the IEP, such as the teacher, school psychologist, or principal before the meeting.
  2. Plan ahead and write down your thoughts that you want to talk about during the meeting so that you don’t forget them.
  3. Be familiar with the process of the IEP and who will be there so that you are not surprised when you arrive.
  4. If you have any private assessments that you want to share during the meeting, send them ahead of time so the team can be familiar with them.
  5. Look over relevant documents before the meeting such as the previous year’s IEP, any current reports and the Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities.
  6. Be prepared for the district staff to present data and information about your child that may differ from your views, but to keep in mind that this information is just as valid.
  7. If you don’t understand something, it’s okay to seek clarification either by asking during the meeting, or talking afterwards with one team member.
  8. Keep the discussion focused on relevant topic(s) so you can maximize the time of your entire IEP team.
  9. At the end of the meeting if you are unable to make a final decision, you can ask to take the IEP home to review again. You can agree to parts or all of the IEP.
  10. Collaborate with the teacher and other professionals who interact with your child and learn how to implement and reinforce the skills and strategies being taught.
Additional Resources
Source: National Center for Learning Disabilities: