What is an IEP?
An IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, is for students requiring special education services with individualized instruction to meet academic needs, which cannot be met through general education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, is the federal law that requires public schools to provide all children, ages 3-21, who receive special education, with an IEP. Simply put, an IEP is a legal plan for a child’s special education experience at school.
Who’s eligible for an IEP?
According to IDEA, the following thirteen conditions can directly impact a child’s ability to perform in school.
- Specific Learning Disability
- Other Health Impairment
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Emotional Disturbance
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Visual Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- Orthopedic Impairment
- Intellectual Disability
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Multiple Disabilities.
To qualify for special education services in one or more of these areas, a student must first be identified and evaluated, and the disability must negatively impact the student’s educational performance in the general education curriculum. Once eligibility for special education is determined, an IEP can be developed.
What are the contents of an IEP?
The IEP is designed by a team, including parents, regular and special education teachers, other school officials or specialists, and sometimes parent advocates. Legally, the team must include the following general elements in every IEP:
- Present level of educational performance: This section discusses the child’s current abilities, skills, strengths and weaknesses, and explains how the learning issues affect his progress in the general curriculum. It may also include results of the students evaluations for eligibility.
- Annual Goals: These are realistic goals that are broken down into objectives, and can be reasonably accomplished in a year’s time. This section also indicates how progress will be measured and reported.
- Special education/related services with dates and locations: This details the type of special education and related services the student will get, as well as when services begin and end, and where the services are provided. For example: Math instruction, 60 minutes daily, in special education small group, at school from 9/15/2017- 6/12/2018.
- Accommodations and modifications: Accommodations are changes to the child’s learning environment, like extended time on a test. Modifications are changes to the curriculum or what is expected of the student, like having a shortened test covering less material than the typical test.
- Participation in general education classes and extracurricular: Because students are to be educated in the least restrictive environment, this section addresses how much time the student will spend with her non-disabled peers.
- Transition planning/services: For those students 14 and older, transition planning is addressed. A statement of services is provided, detailing what the student needs to prepare, for exiting the school system.
While all of these same elements are included in every IEP, each IEP will look different, as it must be based on the individual student’s unique needs. The IEP should drive teaching and result in improved learning outcomes for the student.
While the information provided here gives only IEP basics, more in depth information can be found by visiting one of the following sites.
Written by: Elizabeth Hipwell, M.Ed.
Certified Barton Reading & Spelling Tutor