The IEP is both a document to ensure appropriate education for students with disabilities, as well as a process to facilitate this outcome. It is a compliance, management and communication tool. Since 1975, the IEP has served as the "cornerstone of services for all children and youth with disabilities" (Lerner, 1999). In this section you will information and/or samples in these areas:
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 requires that each IEP include the following:
- A statement of the child's current educational performance level (or present levels of educational performance). A statement of how the disability affects participation in the general education curriculum,
- Identified annual goals, benchmarks, and short-term objectives,
- A description of special education and related services to be provided,
- A statement which describes program modifications and supports the student will need to benefit from the general education curriculum,
- A statement of the extent to which the child will be able to participate in regular education programs,
- Appropriate objective evaluation criteria and evaluation procedures and schedules for determining at least annually, whether the short-term objectives are being met. A statement of how the parents will be informed of progress toward the annual goals (as often as progress is reported to parents of nondisabled students),
- The date on which services began, and the anticipated duration of the services,
- A statement of transition services needed by students who are 14 year and older, and
- A statement of any individual modifications in state and districtwide assessments of student achievement or a statement of why the assessment is not appropriate. The identification of an alternate assessment for accountability if state and districtwide assessments are found inappropriate for individual student needs.
[Source: Adapted from Nancy Hunt & Kathleen Marshal, 1999: Exceptional Children and Youth (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 20.]
The membership of an IEP must include: the student's parents (legal guardian or surrogate parent), at least one regular education teacher of the student, at least one special education teacher, a representative of the local education agency who is qualified to supervise specially designed instruction and is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum, an individual who has participated or can interpret the implications of the evaluations, and the student, if appropriate (Turnbull & Turnbull, 2000).
Visit the Current Legislation section of our web site to get more specific information about special education laws.
You can view a Sample IEP below.
- Individualized Education Program
Student Participation in the IEP Process
Best practice and research in special education underscore the importance of involving students in their own education program. Teachers should encourage students to be active participants in their IEP development and implementation. Involving and supporting students to be their own advocates promotes the self-determined behaviors needed for success.
Educational team members can use a number of activities to foster student participation. First, students need to be aware of their own personal strengths, needs, and exceptionality. You can click on Personal Check-up to access a worksheet that teachers can use to guide student awareness activities. By having the ability to share these strengths and needs, students can better advocate for themselves during IEP meetings, as well as in practical situations such as accessing classroom accommodations.
Next, students also need to be savvy about the IEP meeting and how the IEP document helps to drive an education that promotes success. Teachers need to provide instructional activities, role-play situations and other supports that educate students about this critical advocacy tool and document. Be sure to check out the Resources for Teaching Tools and Supports section if you'd like other resources on IEP related topics.
Teachers can also support active student involvement by engaging students in meaningful goal-setting activities. We've provide a template for goal setting and planning that can help students identify personally meaningful goals called Personal Goal Updates. The goals a student identifies and monitors can be IEP related. Thus, the student also becomes involved in keeping track of progress. S/he can use this as a basis for conversations during conferences with IEP team members and with the special educator during timely updates of IEP progress.
Parent Participation in the IEP Process
Parents are critical and equal partners in the IEP process too. Parents provide essential information and perspective in IEP planning. By sharing their child's strengths and abilities and contributing to the identification of appropriate goals and objectives, a coordinated and appropriate individualized education can be identified. Parents need to be provided information about the referral and IEP process, as well as their due process rights. They will need to have access to resources when questions arise. One way teachers can build understanding and promote family participation is through interviewing parents or significant caregivers. We have included a Parent Interview Protocol that can be used to guide this process.
My Personal Check-Up
- My Strengths
- My Needs
Personal Goal Updates
- Personal Goal Updates
Parent Participation in the IEP Process
- Parent Interview Protocol