IEP stands for Individualized Education Program (alternately called an “Individualized Education Plan”. This is a legally binding document that spells out exactly what special education services your child will receive and why. It will include your child’s identification, placement, services such as a one-on-one aide and therapies, academic and behavioral goals, a behavior plan if needed, percentage of time in regular education, and progress reports from teachers and therapists. The IEP is planned and developed at an IEP meeting. You, as a parent, are an integral part of the IEP Team; it is important that you ask questions, make suggestions and provide input regarding your child.
Once it has been determined that a student qualifies for special education and/or related services the next step is to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) parents are to be full participants in the decision process when it comes to identification, evaluation, educational placement and the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). IDEA §300.503(a)
Notification of IEP Meeting
The district must ensure that parents are notified of and have a chance to participate in the development of the IEP. Parents should be notified, in writing, at least 10 days before the proposed meeting date. The notice must include the time, date, and location of the meeting. It must also include who will be attending and the purpose of the meeting. If the date proposed does not work for a parent they should notify the school in writing of dates and times that would work for them. You, as a parent, can call an IEP meeting at any time, throughout the duration of the IEP.
Developing the IEP
Several areas of your child’s education are covered in an IEP. Purposes of an IEP are to ensure that a student with a disability: receives special education, related services and/or supports necessary to meet the students unique needs; is involved and progresses in the general education curriculum; and is educated with non-disabled peers in the least restrictive environment. This plan must be developed before services can be implemented.
The IEP team must include:
(1) The parent(s) of the child
(2) Not less than one regular education teacher of the child who is knowledgeable of the grade level curriculum
(3) Not less than one special education teacher of the child
(4) A representative of the LEA (Local Education Agency) who –
(i) Is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;
(ii) Is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and
(iii) Is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the public agency
(5) An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results, who may be a member of the team described above
(6) At the discretion of the parent(s) or the LEA, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services Personnel as appropriate; AND
(7) Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability. However, the student between the ages of 14 and 17 years of age must be invited to attend the meeting to discuss a Transition Plan.
IEP members can be excused from all or part of an IEP meeting; if they submit their information and if parents agree to excuse them.
What should an IEP include?
There are several components to the IEP that need to be discussed and developed at the meeting and stated in the IEP document. Below is a list of needed components:
- Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance – What your child needs to learn to function in his or her school and academic curriculum.
- Measurable Annual Goals and Objectives –- Annual goal- a well written goal that tells you what skills your child will achieve and how they will achieve it. -Skills or accomplishments your child needs to make in order to reach the goal.
– Objectives – should contain the same five basic parts: who, what, how, where, & when.
- Special Education and Related Services
- Supplementary Aids and Services
- Program Modifications and Accommodations
- Testing Modifications and Accommodations
- Support for School Personnel
- Transportation Needs
- Participation in General Education
- Participation in Non-Academic and Extra Curricular Activities
- Participation in State and District-wide Testing
- How student Progress will be measured
- Initiation and Duration of Services and Modifications
- Transition Services (beginning at age 16)
- Placement Options Considered
Once an initial IEP is develop and placement determined the parents must give written consent to the initial placement decision before services may be implemented.
-Contributed by Melanie Holtzclaw