When your child is identified as having a disability, the school will bring together several people, including you, to help write an IEP. An IEP is a tool to help your child succeed in school and to ensure that appropriate interventions and academic and social goals are set.
An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. It is a document that lays out the educational program that is tailored to your child. The purposes of an IEP are to identify academic and social goals and to state which supports and services the school will provide your child to help them succeed, according to the Parent Center Hub website.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, necessitates that schools have a process in place for assessing disability, which can be early intervention services for children under the age of 2 or special education services for those between the ages of 3 and 21.
Components of an IEP
This law also states that the IEP has to have statements about “present levels of academic achievement and functional performance,” “annual goals,” “special education and related services to be provided,” and “participation with children without disabilities,” according to the Parent Center Hub website.
The present levels of academic achievement and functional performance says how your child is doing now in school and how the disability affects that. The goals describe what the school team thinks your child can accomplish in a year as far as needs that relate to the disability, and they map out how your child can take part in the general education curriculum. The services to be provided discuss tools and arrangements, like a communication device or different seating arrangements, as well as special education services from personnel at the school, that can help your child succeed. The IEP also spells out how much of the day your child will spend educated away from the general population.
IEPs also include a variety of other components, such as dates and location of services, participation in assessments, transition services, and how progress will be measured. Read the Parent Center Hub site for more information about all IEP components.
Who Creates an IEP?
IEPs are created by one regular education teacher, a special education provider or teacher, a representative of the school system, someone who can interpret evaluation results, others the school or you invite, parents, and your child, when appropriate.
If at all possible, attend IEP meetings at your child’s school so that you understand the plan to help your child succeed and to advocate for them, if necessary. The meetings can be done without parents participating, so try to attend, if you can. You can still get records of the meeting if you don’t attend.
In the end, an IEP is designed to help your child succeed. They are updated annually, and they reflect the desire of the school to see your child do well in all aspects of life. Don’t be afraid of them. Embrace them as a tool to support your child.
L. Hughes-Page, M.Ed.
L. Hughes Page is a Field Supervisor to student teachers in the Graduate Department of Education at Gwynedd Mercy University.