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IEP Basics

iep special education
Classroom with IEP, Individualized Education Plan, written on the chalkboard.

This is a crash course in IEP Basics. Think of it as your IEP Explainerator.

Before I had to know what an IEP was, who needed one and why – I thought it was just some piece of paper that made the schools do what the parents and their lawyers told them to do.

(Insert dramatic brakes screeching sound) Whoa, whoa, W H O A!


What is an IEP?

An IEP or Individualized Education Plan is a written document that:

  • recognizes your child’s current abilities
  • sets annual goal with identifiable benchmarks to reaching the goal
  • lists the Special Education services and specialists required
  • contains specific modifications and accommodations needed to support your child meeting his/her goal
  • defines the education “placement”
  • plans for transition (as appropriate by age)
  • summarizes your parental input or Vision Statement
  • includes additional notes, documented conversations and decisions pertinent to any elements of the IEP


Who is an IEP for?

Any child enrolled in public school (a school that receives federal funding) who qualifies for special education. Your child’s eligibility is NOT determined by a diagnosis, i.e., ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, etc. An education evaluation must be performed to determine if your child’s ability to learn is affected and he or she will benefit from receiving special education services. The evaluation may be initiated by you, the parent, or school (with parental consent and at no cost to the you, the parent).


Why an IEP?

The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) defines the purpose of an IEP “…to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free and appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepares them for further education, employment and independent living”.

 When is an IEP written?

Before your child can receive special education services, but no later than 30 days after eligibility is determined, the IEP Team meets to develop and write the program. The team consists of the parents, representative of the school administration, the teachers and special educators, other service providers or individuals with special knowledge of your child (this can include an advocate of your choosing).

IEPs must be evaluated at least once every 12 months.


Where are services provided?

Special education services might be provided in a general education classroom with special modifications and accommodations, a separate classroom within a general education facility or a specialized facility. This is the “placement” portion of the IEP and we can discuss this more fully in another post but basically ensures your child receives the LRE (Least Restrictive Education) appropriate.


How do I get help with my child’s IEP?

Feel free to schedule a FREE consultation!  I'd love to hear where you are on your IEP journey and talk about how I can support you.  If I can't help, I have a large network of colleagues that I'd be happy to refer.

Not ready for a consultation but want more information?  Contact me here!



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