Individualized Education Programs
(IEP) and Academic Success
sure your child gets the help he or she needs to succeed in
What is in an Individualized Education
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written document
outlining your child's specific education path. You and your
school's IEP team set annual goals and short-term objectives
for your child in the IEP. Annual goals describe what your child
can be expected to do within a 12-month period. Short term objectives
set out the steps by which your child will reach those goals.
IEPs are required by federal law. The Individuals with Disabilities
Acts and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 guarantee
children with special needs a free public education designed
to address their unique needs. The IEP is the vehicle through
which this guarantee is realized.
Under IDEA, the following items must be included in every child's
How is an IEP Developed?
- His or her present levels of educational performance;
- Annual goals and short-term objectives;
- How his or her progress will be measured;
- Specific special education services;
- Supplementary aids and services, if required;
- Any modifications he or she will need when taking state
or district-wide tests;
- Amount of services and how and when they will take place;
- A plan for keeping you informed, as a parent, of your
Your school may request a meeting to plan your child's IEP,
or you can request the meeting yourself. Federal law specifies
that the school must inform you and your child about:
All of the following may attend the IEP meeting, depending on
your child's needs, and level of involvement required from various
school and specialist staff. Remember that you can invite others
to attend your child's IEP meeting.
- The purpose of the IEP meeting;
- Time and place of the meeting;
- Who will be attending; and
- The fact that you may invite other people who have special
knowledge or experience with your child to the meeting.
Schools must ensure that:
- Your child's school administrator;
- Your child's general education teacher;
- Special education teacher or specialist on disabilities
(understands how and when to use different teaching styles
and instructional methods to meet your child's needs);
- Evaluation personnel (people who have conducted an evaluation
of your child's learning and disability needs);
- School psychologist;
- School administrator;
- Translators or interpreters;
- Therapists or other professionals; and
- Your child.
Your child may have specific needs you and the IEP team will
need to consider when developing the final IEP. These include:
- IEP meetings are held no more than 30 calendar days from
the date your child is found eligible for special education
- You, the parent, have agreed in writing to the first IEP
designed for your child before the school begins to implement
- The IEP is reviewed at least once every 12 months.
- Behavioral needs (strategies and supports that address
any behavioral concerns).
- Limited proficiency in English needs (your child's language
skills and needs will be addressed in his or her IEP).
- Blind or visually impaired needs (instruction in Braille
or the use of Braille must be provided to your child).
- Deaf or hard of hearing needs (your child's language and
communication needs will be tested, and any necessary support
services, such as instruction in sign language, provided).
Supplementary Aids and Service Are Available through My Child's
Your child's IEP includes supplemental aids and services he
or she may need to attend school and work well in the classroom.
Aids include such things as:
- a pencil grip, special seat or cut out cup for drinking;
- assistive technology, word processor, special software
or communication system;
- training for staff, student or parents;
- peer tutors;
- a one-on-one aide; and
- adapted materials (books on tape, large print, or highlighted
- Speech therapists
- Counseling services
- Medical services
- Occupational therapy
- Orientation and mobility services
- Parent counseling or training
- Psychological services
- Rehabilitation counseling
- School health services
- Social work services in schools
- Speech-language pathology
Can an IEP Ensure My Child's Academic Success?
Your child's IEP must be reviewed at least once a year. This
means that you and the IEP team can continually monitor your
child's progress through school.
At the annual IEP
meeting, school staff and specialists will talk about your
child's progress, his or her strengths and weaknesses, and
how the IEP could be adjusted to better meet your child's
academic and social needs. Your involvement in and contributions
to this meeting ensure that the IEP is tailored to your child's
needs so he or she can attain a higher level of academic achievement.
Among the items
addressed at the annual review are:
The annual IEP meeting is a good way for you and school staff
to communicate as equal partners and make joint, informed decisions
about your child's needs and goals. It also allows you to work
with school staff to determine:
- Your child's progress or lack of progress toward his or
her annual goals and in his or her general curriculum;
- Any additional information gathered from your child's
reevaluation (if applicable);
- Information about your child that you would like to share;
- Information about your child that your child's school
shares (insights from your child's teacher on class work,
- Your child's anticipated needs and other concerns.
If your child attends the annual IEP meeting, he or she can
express his or her own needs, educational desires, and goals
for education, work and the future. This will help your child
focus on what he or she must accomplish in school to be prepared
for the future.
- how involved your child will be in the general curriculum;
- whether he or she will be able to participate in the regular
- what state and district-wide tests your child will need
to take; and
- the level of services needed to support your child's involvement
and participation in school and enable him or her to achieve
the IEP goals.
Every three years, your child must be reevaluated. This evaluation
is called a "triennial", and determines if your child still
needs special education services, as defined by IDEA. Your child
may be reevaluated more frequently if you or your child's teacher
feels that a new evaluation is necessary.
How Can I Help Ensure My Child's Academic
- Be aware of your child's rights under IDEA.
- Know your child's strengths and weaknesses. Communicate
these to your child's IEP team, teachers, and other school
- Give insights about your child's interests, likes and
dislikes, and preferred learning styles.
- Keep track of what has/has not been working with your
child's education. Share this record with your child's teachers,
school staff, specialists, and the IEP team.
- Request a written copy of your child's evaluation results,
and meet with school staff to talk about any issues that
are highlighted. If you want a second opinion, submit a
request in writing for an independent educational evaluation.
There is no additional cost to your or your child.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions, because asking questions
will be your first step in understanding more abut your
child's disability and needs.
- Do not be intimidated by the educational backgrounds of
school administrators, counselors, and teachers. This is
your child, and his or her education has a profound effect
on both your life and your child's future. Therefore, it
is important that you learn as much as you can about helping
your child attain the highest level of academic success
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Policy Resources
(Council for Exceptional Children)
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services
of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
Departments of Rehabilitation
Departments of Education
Departments of Labor and Youth Services
Security Administration Regional and Field Offices
Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities--State
Lighthouse for the Blind
on Technology and Disability
(for youth and adults with learning disabilities and attention
Child's IEP (NICHY, 2002) PDF
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