An individualized education program, or IEP, is a plan designed to guide, inform, and accommodate children with special needs who receive special education services. It is designed for a specific student, with the goal of improving education for each individual student enrolled in special education classes. All schools providing special education services are required by law (as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) to have an IEP for each child.
The building and successful implementation of an IEP requires that parents, teachers (both regular and special education teachers), the school system, other individuals involved in the care or therapy of the child, and sometimes the student themselves work together as part of a team.
Christa Martin, a former special education teacher from Indiana, says that having an IEP helped her in the classroom. “The biggest benefit is having working document that holds individuals accountable who are working with the individual student and to make sure the student is working toward goals that will help them reach educational goals that are appropriate,” says Martin.
By law, an IEP is required to contain 10 pieces of information, although certain states and school systems may include additional information in an IEP:
- The student’s current performance in school, including classroom assignment and test scores, observations from teachers, parents, and other service providers, and information about why the child needs special education services.
- Annual goals that the child can accomplish in one year
- Special education services that the child will require
- Whether or not the child will interact with nondisabled children in the classroom
- Whether or not the child will participate in standardized testing, and any modifications to testing that may be required
- The date and location detailing where and when the child will receive special education services
- Services that will be provided to transition the child into special education classes
- Services that will be provided to transition the child out of special education classes
- In certain states, a child’s rights are transferred to them when they reach a certain age (typically 18). The IEP contains details about which rights are transferred to the child and that the child has been given this information.
- Information on how the child’s progress will be measured
TapGenes Take Away: An IEP is an important piece of the education of a special education student. If your child needs an IEP, work with their school to develop the best plan for your child’s education.