What is an IEP?
An IEP is an Individualized Education Program for children who qualify for special education services by their local public school district. It is not an Individual Education Plan. Why isn’t it a Plan? As the old saying goes, “plans are made to be broken!” A program on the other hand must be followed!! Congress in their infinite wisdom got this one right. It is a legally binding document that must be followed to the letter of the law and tailored to meet your child’s unique needs. An IEP must include:
- A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance;
- A statement of the child's eligibility/disability category;
- A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals;
- A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child;
- A statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to the child;
- A statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary for the child on State and district wide assessments;
- The projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications including the frequency, location and duration of those services and modifications;
- By no later than the child’s 16 birthday an Individual Transition Plan outlining measurable postsecondary goals, independent living skills goals and the transition services needed to accomplish those goals; and
- By no later than one year prior to the Child reaching the age of majority a statement that the child has been informed of their rights upon reaching the age of majority. Check the chart for your State's age of majority.
When developing the IEP the team must consider the strengths of the child, concerns of the parents, results of the most recent assessments and the academic, developmental and functional needs of the child.
The IEP team must include:
- The parents of the child (See What is a Parent Under "IDEA");
- At least one general education teacher;
- At least one special education teacher;
- A District Representative that is knowledgeable about the District’s curriculum and resources that has the authority to bind the District.
- Any instructors that have assessed your child and can interpret and explain the results of that assessment;
- At the discretion of the parent or District other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related service personnel; and
- When appropriate, the child.
While no one member of the IEP team is the most important, and the process works the best when it’s a collaborative effort, parent participation is considered crucial. Parent participation means notifying the parents of the meeting early enough for them to attend, scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and place, listening to their concerns and allowing them to note their concerns and disagree with parts of the IEP.