The IEP, Individualized Education Program, is a written document developed for each public school child who is eligible for special education. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once per year. Before an IEP can be written, your child must be determined eligible for special education. By Federal law, a multidisciplinary team must determine that your child 1) has a disability and 2) requires special education services to benefit from the general education program.
IEP Team Members
The members of the multidisciplinary team who develop your child's IEP include:
You, the parents/guardians
General education teacher
A special education teacher who has training and experience in educating children with disabilities
An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of the assessment results
A representative of the school district who know about special education services and has the authority to commit resources
Individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about your child who are invited by you and/or the school district
Representatives from transition services agencies, when such services are being discussed
Your child, when appropriate, and whenever transition is discussed
Contents of the IEP
The IEP guarantees the necessary supports and services that are agreed upon for your child. At least, the IEP must contain the following information:
Present Levels of Educational Performance
Special Education and Related Services
The extent, if any, to which your child will not participate with non-disabled peers in the regular class and other school activities
Whether your child will take state and district-wide tests, with or without accommodations, or have an alternative assessment
When services begin, where and how often they'll be provided
Necessary transition services (age 16)
Special Factors depending on your child's needs:
Behavior management supports and strategies
Language needs as related to the IEP if an English Learner
Assistive technology devices or services required in order to receive FAPE
Necessary accommodations in the general education classroom
Your role at the IEP Meeting
As equal members of the IEP team, parents of a student being assessed shall be encouraged to participate in developing, reviewing and revising the student’s IEP.
Here are some ideas that may help you reduce your anxiety, increase your participation and facilitate the process:
Communicate regularly with school staff so you both have a mutual understanding of your child's needs
Prepare your thoughts before the meeting by writing down the important points you want to make about your child.
Take someone with you to serve as your support system. If you decide to bring a friend or advocate, inform the school so they are aware of whom you're bringing
Ask questions if you don't understand the terms being used. If necessary, arrange to meet with individuals after the meeting to review their reports
Try to stay focused and positive
Remember you can sign in attendance, but you don't have to agree to the goals or services at the meeting. You can take the IEP documents home to review, get input, and return later.
Parents must give consent before any special education service may be provided.
Interpreters for the deaf or for parents whose primary language is not English will be provided when necessary.
A meeting may be held by teleconference upon mutual agreement of all parties.
What Happens Next
Written parent permission is required before the IEP can be implemented. If you agree with only parts of the IEP, let the Team know so services can begin for your child.
The IEP is reviewed at least once a year. However, if you or the teacher believe that your child isn't making progress or has achieved the goals sooner than expected, a meeting may be scheduled to revise the IEP. If you believe an IEP meeting is needed, put your request in writing and send it to your student's IEP Manager or Teacher.
Work collaboratively with the staff responsible for your child's IEP and ask what you can do to reinforce skills at home.