A Parent's Guide to the IEP
What is an IEP?
An IEP is an individualized education program for children who receive special education or special services in the public school system. Each IEP must be written for one student and be a custom plan describing his or her educational goals, services provided, modifications to curriculum or classroom setting, and other specific information particular to his or her needs. Although the forms may vary from state to state each IEP must include certain requirements established in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Who needs an IEP?
Any child who receives special education or services in the public school system must have an IEP. There are several ways children are identified for special education. Parents or teachers may request an evaluation of any child that is suspected of having a disability; however, any evaluation must be done with parental consent. An evaluation must be completed within a reasonable amount of time after consent is given. Children are also identified through the “Child Find” system. The state is responsible for identifying children with special needs and conducts “Child Find” activities to find children who need evaluation for a possible IEP. Any time a child is evaluated by an IEP team there must be parental consent.
Evaluation: The first step of the IEP is the evaluation. All children will first have an evaluation to assess their current levels and determine goals and services necessary for them. The evaluation results will serve as a guide for writing the IEP and determining what services the child needs. After the evaluation, the IEP team will review the evaluation and determine whether or not the child qualifies as a “child with a disability”. If the parents disagree with the decision they have the right to receive an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). Furthermore, parents may request that this is paid for by the school system. Once it is determined that the child qualifies as having a disability, the IEP will be written. The IEP team must meet to write the IEP within thirty calendar days of establishing disability.
IEP Meeting: Who is involved in the IEP meeting? The IDEA requires that certain people are involved in the IEP meeting. These people include parent/s, at least one of the student’s special education teachers, at least one of the student’s regular education teachers, an individual representing the school system or educational agency, a member who can interpret the evaluation results, and any other personnel who have expertise related to the child’s needs.
When the IEP meeting is schedule the school system must provide notice to the parents and other participants. The parents must be given early enough notice to be able to attend the meeting or make other arrangements. The meeting must be scheduled at a time and place that is agreed upon with the parents and the school. Moreover, the parents should be informed of who will be attending the IEP meeting.
Writing the IEP: The IEP will serve as a plan for the child’s educational goals and include certain details including how the child is currently performing at school, specific goals for the child that can be measured, any special education or services, any modifications that will be made for state or district wide tests, the dates and locations of services to be provided, as well as a statement explaining how progress will be determined. The IEP will also include any other specific details that apply to the child and his or her particular needs. Once the child turns 14, a transition statement must be included in the IEP stating how the student will transition to reach goals after he is through with school. At 16, a statement of transition services must be written to describe how the school will prepare the child to move from school into adult life.
What happens after the IEP is written: Parents will receive a copy of the IEP for them to review. Any teachers or providers that will be working with your child will have access to his or her IEP. Services will begin after the IEP is written. Parents will be informed regularly (at least as frequently as non-disabled children) of their child’s progress. Parents will receive reports of how their child is doing and if he/she will be able to reach their IEP goals by the end of the school year. The child’s IEP will be reviewed at least once a year. If changes need to be made the IEP will be revised.