The IEP plays a dominant role in the special education process. As a major component of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), the IEP is designed to facilitate an appropriate education for each student in the least restrictive environment. The IEP essentially occurs when the non-discriminatory evaluation team takes their evaluation and puts it into action. They design goals for the student, what educational requirements the student has, how they can best facilitate learning and basically how they can meet the needs of the student, including transition issues. For example, Regina must legally be placed in the least restrictive environment as per IDEA. Her IEP team, then, must decide what that environment is and set up goals and guidelines that will guarantee the her success. It’s important that the team include the parents, the teachers, and other officials so that the all bases are covered and the needs of the student are expressed.After the plan is set, the child’s additional resources/services/needs, such as resource room time, are often met through specialized instructors.

Components of the IEP

  1. Present level of performance: how the student is doing at the moment, using clearly specified descriptions/definitions. (Judy has mastered some fine motor skills, which include coloring in the lines, etc)

  2. Goals, Objectives, Benchmarks: by listing specific goals, making a plan of attack, and constructing success points, there is no confusion about what sort of education is appropriate for the student. (Robert’s goal is to make the transition into the work force. To do that he will apply for a job, receive training, etc. We will know Robert has been successful when he has received praise from employers, when he’s been with the company for so long, etc.)

  3. Special Education Services: what does the child need in addition to the regular classroom resources? How can we provide these services, and how often do they need to be provided? (Rachel is hearing impaired. She will need her teacher to wear a special microphone/headset so she can hear him well.)

  4. Related Services: what needs does the child have which cannot be met at school? (Ben is seeing a therapist to learn anger management skills.)

  5. Justification of Non-participation: the IEP team must have valid reasons for excluding a child from a particular activity to make sure the LRE requirement is being met. (Andrew will not participate in p.e. class when there are strenuous activities because of his severe asthma and heart palpitations.)

  6. Modification of State Assessments: will mandatory testing have to be modified for this student in order to be accurate? How so, and why? (Libby is dyslexic and will need longer than the allotted 45 minutes for the reading comprehension portion of the test.)

  7. Timelines: alongside specific expectations, estimations of time needed are paramount. These timelines should extend from previous IEPs into future plans whenever possible. (A timeline of Jake’s transitional phase helps his parents see visually how he is being prepared for life after school.)

  8. Measurement of Progress: Exactly how the team will determine the student’s growth and achievement is an important component of the IEP as it constructs a solid determinant of the student's success. (Carolyn’s behavioral conflicts will be charted on a map. Every time Carolyn misbehaves, a check is placed on the chart. If the checks become fewer and further between, that’s progress.)

  9. Transition: Once the student has reached the age of about 14, the IEP will need to include ways in which s/he is being prepared for life outside of school. This helps the student realize the myriad of possibilities available after high school and also provides support so that s/he may explore those possibilities. (Randy has an after-school job and is learning with the help of his team how to care for himself, keep a budget, etc.)