What is an IEP? If you’re reading this post, you may be a special education teacher, a general education teacher with students who have I.E.P.s in your class, or a parent of a student with an I.E.P. Hopefully after you’re finished reading this post, I’ll be able to help answer some of your questions.
Let’s start with what I.E.P. stands for. It is an acronym that stands for Individualized Education Plan. An I.E.P. is just that – a plan that has been created to address a student’s individual needs and what can be put in place to help that child be successful. There are many components to an IEP and I will break those down in separate posts in order to make sure I cover each one.
A new IEP is completed for each eligible student at lease once annually. IEPs are dated by calendar year, not school year. A new IEP is required to be updated at least once per calendar year. This is known as an Annual IEP Meeting. Any IEP meetings that happen in between one annual IEP and the next annual IEP are known as Interim IEP Meetings. Anyone on the IEP team can request an Interim IEP Meeting.
The child’s IEP team consists of:
- The child’s parent/guardian.
- The Local Education Agency Representative (LEA – another acronym)
- The child’s general education teacher.
- The child’s special education teacher.
- An evaluation specialist (School Psychologist, ESE Teacher, Service Provider).
- Any other service or related service provider.
The service providers for a child can be any or all of the following:
- A Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP)
- An Occupational Therapist (OT)
- A Physical Therapist (PT)
- Vision Impaired Teacher
- Deaf or Hard of Hearing Teacher
- ESE Teacher/Support Facilitator
- ESE Counselor
- Gifted Teacher (for twice exceptional or dual exceptional students)
There are four domains for capturing a student’s Present Levels of Performance on an IEP. Present Level of Performance is also known as PLP (another IEP acronym). The four domains are: Curriculum and Instruction, Social/Emotional Behavior, Independent Functioning, and Communication. Within these domains, the student’s teacher(s) and service provider(s) input important information regarding what the student can do presently and is not yet able to do and would benefit from additional instruction with. It is their current level of functioning in each particular domain. The information included in the four domains helps the providers to develop quality IEP goals for the student. (See separate post on developing quality IEP goals).
There is also a section on an IEP that addresses Parent Input. Having parent input is crucial to include on an IEP. It provides parents an opportunity to express to the team what they see as their child’s strengths and areas of weakness. They can also include any special interests that their child has, as well as any goals that they have for their child’s educational needs. Parent input can help the team to see what the parent sees when they are with the child at home. School-based providers/teachers only get to see how the child performs at school, but there is another side of the child to see from the parent’s perspective. This can also help the team to develop goals, services, and accommodations for the child.
I know that’s a lot of information to take in, so stay tuned for Part 2. If you want to learn the acronyms used in special education, join my mailing list to receive the free Special Education Acronyms list.