The Importance of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for Special Education

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

Once your child has been evaluated and it is determined that they are eligible for special education services, then the Individualized education plan (IEP) is created and put into effect. The IEP team may be comprised of the same members who participated in the initial meeting or a new team may be developed based on the needs of the student. The team is determined by the available resources at your school and/or school district. You are a vital part of that team and that you are your child’s strongest advocate. The IEP is an annual contract that basically outlines the needs of the student and how the school will meet those needs.

For every situation there is a case manager who serves as the team lead. This is usually the resource specialist and they may work at the district or school level depending on the size of the district and the school. At some larger districts there is a resource specialist at every school. Nonetheless, the case manager will oversee the IEP development process. The team will use the scores and information from the evaluation to develop a plan. The results of the evaluation will give the team a good indication of how to provide instruction and resources based on their individual needs.

Common elements for an IEP

No two IEPs are alike but there are some common elements, which include:

  1. Student information including name, age, grade and date of birth.

  2. A list of the team members and their positions.

  3. The present level of educational performance which outlines the student’s current skills and weaknesses. May include social and behavioral analysis if available or related to the disability.

  4. The services that the child will receive. This should include services received outside of school. In some instances, the child may be receiving services at a regional center (California). Regional centers are non-profit private organizations that contract with the state of California Department of Developmental Services to support and serve individuals with disabilities.

  5. A list of any supplementary aids and/or services that are suggested. This will include any assistive technology or accommodations like longer test taking time, or a seat next to the teacher.

  6. Annual goals consist of a list of the functional and/or academic goals to be accomplished during the year. Each goal has short term objectives.

  7. Progress reporting outlines exactly how parent(s) will be notified about progress towards the goals.

  8. Participation or inclusion outlines to what extent the student will participate in general education. In recent time the trend has been to include individuals with disabilities into general education classes; however, depending on the level of the disability the student may be placed in separate class with other students that have similar disabilities.

  9. Parental consent. As the parent you have the right to consent to all services. You also have the right to only consent to a portion or part of the plan. If you opt to do this, you should add an addendum or notice to the plan with your expressed concerns or wishes. 

Review the IEP carefully!

You need to review the IEP carefully, things to check for:

  1. Make sure ALL the information is correct; the names, the accommodations, the dates, the goals.

  2. Make sure there is an assigned case manager.

  3. Make sure everything is clearly stated with details.

  4. Make sure your child’s present level of performance is clearly defined.

  5. Make sure it is clearly outlined how progress will be measured.

  6. Make sure all your parental concerns are addressed.

If you do not agree with the terms you have the option to decline the plan and try to negotiate with the team. Oftentimes some members of the team, may not be happy with your decision to deny or decline services, but remember you are your child’s greatest advocate. If there is no consensus made, you should research different dispute resolutions that are applicable to your situation. You have the right to mediation or a due process hearing. Due process is very similar to a legal case. If you need to proceed with due process, you should consult with legal help. There is a lot of information with regards to disabilities, special education and IEPs it is suggested that you do your homework, prepare yourself, get all the information you can about your child’s disability. If you are not sure about any part of the process, get help!!!

This article was written by Dr. James Gray as a public service announcement. Dr. James Gray is the School Services Director at Limai Academy and has been in education for over 15 years.

If you want to learn more about our school, contact us at Limai Academy in Gardena (424) 329-0471 / /

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