An IEP is a written document developed for a child who is eligible for special education in a public school. It outlines the student's educational needs and the supports and services that will be provided so that the student can meet educational goals.

Developing the IEP
When a parent, guardian, teacher or other concerned person suspects that a child may have a disability, that person may contact the IEP team at the child's school to request a assistance. The IEP team includes:

  • Parent/guardian
  • General education teacher
  • Special education teacher
  • Social worker
  • Psychologist
  • Speech pathologist
  • Nurse/health-related service provider
  • School administrator
  • Outside agency personnel

The IEP team meets to review the request and information about the child. If the team suspects that the child has a disability and may need special education, assessments in all areas related to the suspected disability are recommended. These can usually be completed by staff at the school.

The IEP team then reviews written reports of the assessments, which include summaries of how any identified disabilities may affect the child's educational progress. The IEP team then completes the evaluation (within 60 days of receiving signed permission from the parent/guardian to assess the child or 90 days from the date of receipt of the written referral, whichever comes first). The parent is given a copy of the assessment reports, the evaluation report and the IEP team meeting summary.
The evaluation report will include a determination of whether the child is eligible for services — that is, whether:

  • A disability has been determined AND
  • Because of the disability, the child requires special education to be successful in the education setting

If the child has been determined to be eligible, an IEP is then developed.

What the IEP includes?
The IEP is written to meet the specific child’s educational needs. It outlines the supports and services that the IEP team agrees are required for the child, based on her or his disability and those unique needs, and includes the following components.

Present levels of educational performance 
Information about the child’s strengths and needs as determined by evaluations from teachers, parents and school staff. The evaluations can include observations, written or verbal comments and assessment results. It the child requires services besides those related to academic needs (e.g., language development, behavior, social skills), these concerns will also be outlined.

Each IEP must include measurable goals that can be reasonably accomplished in one year. Goals are written based on present levels of educational performance and focus on the child’s needs that result from the disability. They can be academic, social or behavioral, or can address other educational needs — but in all cases they should be written to support the child in the general curriculum.

Special education and related services
This describes the set of services that will put the IEP into action, and how the services will be delivered. The general education classroom will be the preferred setting for delivery of services, but a range of options is available (including a self-contained classroom). Also included here will be:

  • Time in which your child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and other school activities
  • When services will begin, where and how often they will be provided and how long they will last
  • Transition services (age 16 or the first IEP that will be in effect when the child turns 16)
  • Supports and strategies for behavior management, if behavior interferes with the child's or others' learning
  • Speech or language needs as related to the IEP
  • Necessary accommodations (testing, modified work, etc.)

Parental Involvement
Working as partners, parents and professionals strive to deliver excellent educational opportunities for all children at SEED. National studies affirm that the interest and involvement of parents in their children’s education are the most important predictors of success for a child.

As a parent of a child with a special need, you bring historical, medical, educational, and personal understanding of your child as a whole, unique, and valuable human being. Persons working with your child for a few hours a day or even over the course of a few years cannot know the youngster as you and the family do. That is why the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) stresses the role of parents in designing and monitoring their child’s educational journey. This role and responsibility combined with the student’s participation in school or training programs constitute the personal side or individual phase of the special education process. Special education ultimately is the means by which families and youngsters endeavor to achieve an independent and productive future.