An individualized education plan is commonly referred to as an IEP. This is a legal document for students with special needs. IEPs are often twenty to forty pages or even longer. There is a lot of important information included in an IEP. Knowing what to look for ahead of time will help you better determine the accuracy and potential effectiveness of the document. There are three main sections to an IEP; the assessments and student’s needs, the goals and objectives to meet those needs, and the service delivery and support services to meet the goals and objectives.
Formal and/or informal assessments are completed and the data is compiled for every IEP meeting. This data is used to help the team assess where your child is in comparison to other children his/her age and grade level. This information is used to create a list of educational needs for your child. Your child may have needs in only one area such as speech or in many areas depending on their educational profile and their disability.
After the needs have been determined by the team annual goals with specific, measurable objectives are created that outline what your child will be taught with the expected level of mastery by the ending date of the IEP. IEP goals are based on core content standards that apply to all children in public schools. IEP objectives should state specific skills within the goal that will be met, how progress will be measured and the level of progress that is expected and/or considered acceptable for your child.
The final section of the IEP lays out who will provide what services to your child and how often this will occur. This will include whether the service delivery will take place within the general education setting, a special education setting or a therapists office. This is also, where you will find information concerning a behavior plan or communication plan if either of those documents is necessary. This section includes all of the accommodations and modifications your child needs in order to gain educational benefit both in and out of the general education setting. Additionally there will be information about district, state and federal testing.
As you can see, the IEP is a complex legal document that is a binding agreement between you and the school district. IEPs are formatted based on state and federal laws. It is important for you to understand what should be included in an IEP so that your child receives the assistance he/she needs in order to gain as much educational benefit as possible.