What is an IEP?
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement for each student with a disability which outlines the specially designed instruction, services, goals, accommodations, modifications and transition services a student’s program will entail. The information, goals and services within the IEP are based on the results of the evaluation which determined eligibility or the results of a re-evaluation.
What information must be included in an IEP?
A statement of the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAFP). The PLAFP must include how the student’s disability affects the student’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum (i.e., the same curriculum as for nondisabled students). For preschool students, the PLAFP must address how the disability affects the student’s participation in age-appropriate activities.
A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to meet the student’s needs that result from their disability to enable them to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum. Additional goals must meet each of the student’s other educational needs that result from their disability. For students with disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards, a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives.
A description of how the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured and when periodic reports on the progress the student is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided.
A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the student, or on behalf of the student. There also needs to be a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the student to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals, be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum, participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities, and be educated and participate with other students with disabilities and non-disabled students in the activities.
An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the student will not participate with non-disabled students in the regular class and in the activities
A statement of any individual appropriate accommodations necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the student on State and district-wide assessments. If the IEP Team determines that the student must take an alternate assessment instead of a particular regular State or district-wide assessment of student achievement, a statement of why the student cannot participate in the regular assessment and how the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the student.
The projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of those services and modifications.
The first IEP to be in effect when the student turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, must include statements related to transition services. These include measurable post-secondary goals and transition services. The goals should be based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills. Transition services are those services necessary to assist the student in attaining the post-secondary goals.
One year before the student reaches the age of majority under State law, the IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed of their rights under Part B of the Act, if any, that will transfer to the student on reaching the age of majority.
When must an IEP be in effect?
A meeting to develop an IEP for a student must be conducted within 30 days of the eligibility determination. Additionally, as soon as possible following development of the IEP, special education and related services are made available to the student in accordance with the student’s IEP.
The team must ensure that the student’s IEP is accessible to each regular education teacher, special education teacher, related services provider, and any other service provider who is responsible for its implementation. Each teacher and provider must also be informed of his or her specific responsibilities related to implementing the student’s IEP, and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the student in accordance with the IEP.
Who is part of the IEP team?
The IEP is created through the collaborative efforts of the IEP team which includes the parents of the student, regular education teacher(s), special education teacher(s), administrative designee, someone who can interpret the instructional implications of the evaluation results, any other knowledgeable person requested by the parents or school, and the student, if appropriate.
If the IEP meeting is regarding transition services the student must be invited to attend the IEP Team meeting if a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals for the student and the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those. If the student does not attend the IEP Team meeting, the IEP Team must take other steps to ensure that the student’s preferences and interests are considered.
To the extent appropriate, with the consent of the parents or a student who has reached the age of majority, the team must invite a representative of any participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services.
In the case of a student who was previously served under Part C of the Act (early intervention services), an invitation to the initial IEP Team meeting must, at the request of the parent, be sent to the Part C service coordinator or other representatives of the Part C system to assist with the smooth transition of services.
A member of the IEP Team is not required to attend an IEP Team meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent of a student with a disability and the school agree, in writing, that the attendance of the member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting. A member of the IEP Team may be excused from attending an IEP Team meeting, in whole or in part, when the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member’s area of the curriculum or related services, if the parent and the school consent to the excusal, in writing, and the member submits, in writing to the parent and the IEP Team, input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting.
How can parents participate?
Each team must take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP Team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. These steps include notifying parents of the meeting early enough to ensure they will have an opportunity to attend, and scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. The notice must indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting and who will be in attendance.
If neither parent can attend an IEP Team meeting, the team must use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls.
The team must take whatever action is necessary to ensure the parent understands the proceedings of the IEP Team meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English.
The team must give the parent a copy of the student’s IEP at no cost to the parent.
What happens when a student transfers schools?
If the student is transferring to a new school within the same State, and enrolls in a new school within the same school year, the new school (in consultation with the parents) must provide a FAPE to the student (including services comparable to those described in the student’s IEP from the previous school), until the new school either adopts the student’s IEP from the previous school or develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP.
If the student is transferring to a new school in a different State, and enrolls in a new school within the same school year, the new school (in consultation with the parents) must provide the student with a FAPE (including services comparable to those described in the student’s IEP from the previous school), until the new school conducts an evaluation and develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP.
How is the IEP developed?
When developing an IEP, including placement, goals, services, accommodations and modifications, there are specific pieces of information the team needs to take into consideration. These considerations drive the content of the IEP.
The strengths of the student, the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their student, the results of the initial or most recent evaluation of the student, and the academic, developmental, and functional needs of the student.
The IEP Team must, on the case of a student whose behavior impedes the student’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior.
In the case of a student with limited English proficiency, consider the language needs of the student as those needs relate to the student’s IEP.
In the case of a student who is blind or visually impaired, provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP Team determines, after an evaluation of the student’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the student’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille), that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the student.
Consider the communication needs of the student, and in the case of a student who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the student’s language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the student’s language and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the student’s language and communication mode.
Consider whether the student needs assistive technology devices and services.
How are changes made to the IEP?
In making changes to a student’s IEP after the annual IEP Team meeting for a school year, the parent of a student with a disability and the school may agree not to convene an IEP Team meeting for the purposes of making those changes, and instead may develop a written document to amend or modify the student’s current IEP. If changes are made to the student’s IEP the school must ensure that the student’s IEP Team is informed of those changes.
Changes to the IEP may be made either by the entire IEP Team at an IEP Team meeting or by amending the IEP rather than by redrafting the entire IEP. Upon request, a parent must be provided with a revised copy of the IEP with the amendments incorporated.
Each school must ensure that the IEP Team reviews the student’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the student are being achieved. The IEP Team must revise the IEP, as appropriate, to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals or in the general education curriculum, the results of any reevaluation conducted, information about the student provided to, or by, the parents, the student’s anticipated needs, or any other matters.