Understanding Your Child’s IEP


Your child may have had an IEP (Individualized Education Program) since they started school or maybe a teacher just recommended one. Maybe you thought your child needed more help with their education. Here are some of the basic concepts of what an IEP is and how it can help your child.



An IEP is an Individualized Education Program.  Every student who qualifies for special education services is required to have an IEP.  This highly individualized plan allows everyone who works with the student to be on the same page.

Who needs an IEP?

Kids struggling in school may qualify for support services, allowing them to be taught in a special way, for reasons such as:

  • learning disabilities
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • emotional disorders
  • cognitive challenges
  • autism
  • hearing impairment
  • visual impairment
  • speech or language impairment
  • developmental delay

How is a student deemed eligible for an IEP?

  1. A teacher, parent, or administrator recognizes that a child may need additional help and requests an evaluation.
  2. The child is evaluated in all areas of suspected disability. This includes formal testing, informal testing (daily grades, classroom work), interviews, and observations.  The school’s evaluation team will consider all of this along with observations and interviews.  It is important that parents are a part of this evaluation and their information and insight should be included in the evaluation.
  3. If the child is deemed eligible, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the school is required to write up a plan within 30 days.
  4. The school then conducts an IEP meeting that must include the student’s teacher, parents, and special education teachers.  Parents also have the right to include anyone else in the meeting they believe has expertise or special knowledge of the child.
  5. An IEP plan is laid out and the school decides how to best follow it for the benefit of the student. A copy of the plan is given to all of the child’s teachers and providers.  This is so everyone involved in the educational process knows their roles and responsibilities for making sure the IEP is carried out.  This includes accommodations, modifications, and support that is provided to the child.
  6. The student’s progress is evaluated and sent to the parents.
  7. It is required that everyone meet at least once a year to reevaluate the IEP.  Additional meetings can be held if teachers or parents see a need.
  8. The student is reevaluated every three years to remain eligible for special education services.

What is included in an IEP?

Legally, there are things that must be included in an IEP.

  • A statement of the child’s present level of performance (PLOP)—this is basically how the student is currently doing in school.
  • The child’s annual educational goals
  • Special education supports and services that the school will provide to help the student reach goals
  • Modifications and accommodations the school will provide to help the child make progress
  • If the student will be in special classes or integrated with non disabled students
  • Accommodations for the child when taking standardized tests
  • How and when the school will measure the student’s progress toward annual goals
  • Transition planning that prepares teens for life after high school


Parental consent is required at every stage of the IEP process.  

Private schools are not legally required to provide the same services available in public schools.

What services are granted to students with an IEP?

There are many different types of services for special education students. This is a list of possible services your student may require.

  • Audiology services
  • Counseling services
  • Early identification and assessment of disabilities in children
  • Medical services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Orientation and mobility services
  • Parent counseling and training
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological services
  • Recreation
  • Rehabilitation counseling services
  • School health services
  • Social work services in schools
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Transportation

It is important to note that certain factors can influence services provided. These include, but are not limited to: language barriers, behavioral issues, if the student is blind or deaf, and if there are communication issues.

If the parents do not agree with the IEP there are options:

  • Try to reach an agreement. Parents can talk with school officials about their concerns and try to reach an agreement. Sometimes the agreement can be temporary. For example, the parents and school can agree to try a plan of instruction or a placement for a certain period of time and see how the student does.
  • Ask for mediation. During mediation, the parents and school sit down with someone who is not involved in the disagreement and try to reach an agreement. The school may offer mediation, if it is available as an option for resolving disputes prior to due process.
  • Ask for due process. During a due process hearing, the parents and school personnel appear before an impartial hearing officer and present their sides of the story. The hearing officer decides how to solve the problem. (Note: Mediation must be available at least at the time a due process hearing is requested.)
  • File a complaint with the state education agency. To file a complaint, generally parents write directly to the SEA and say what part of IDEA they believe the school has violated. The agency must resolve the complaint within 60 calendar days. An extension of that time limit is permitted only if exceptional circumstances exist with respect to the complaint.


All information was taken from www.2ed.gov


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