The IEP is a very important document for children with disabilities and for those who are involved in educating them. Done correctly, the IEP should improve teaching, learning, and results. Each child's IEP describes among other things, the educational program that has been designed to meet that child's unique needs. It is useful to understand that each child's IEP is different. The document is prepared for that child only. It describes the individualized education program designed to meet that child's needs.
Contents of the IEP
- Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance- The IEP must state how the child is currently doing in school (known as present levels of academic achievement). This information usually comes from the evaluation results such as classroom tests and assignments, individual tests given to decide eligibility for services or during reevaluation, and observations made by parents, teachers, related service providers, and other school staff. The statement about "current performance" includes how the child's disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum.
- Present Levels Related to Postsecondary Transition Goals- This section must be addressed if the student's age is 14 years or older. This includes formative assessments, curriculum based assessments, progress toward goals and ecological survey results.
- Parental Concerns for enhancing the education of the student- Parental in-put is included in this section.
- Strengths, Academic, Developmental, and Functional Needs related to the student's disability- The information included in this section is compiled of evaluation or re-evaluation data, curriculum based assessments, progress monitoring, and information provided by related service providers.
- Post School Goals- If students are 14 years of age or older, this section must be addressed. The information is compiled based on career interest surveys, technical school data, information provided by the parent and student and current academic information.
- Annual goals. These are goals that the child can reasonably accomplish in a year. Goals may be academic, address social or behavioral needs, relate to physical needs, or address other educational needs. The goals must be measurable - meaning that it must be possible to measure whether the student has achieved the goals.
- Special Education/Related Services/Supplementary Aids and Services/Program Modification.- The IEP must list the special education and related services to be provided to the child. This includes supplementary aids and services that the child needs. It also includes modifications (changes) to the program or supports for school personnel - such as training or professional development - that will be provided to assist the child.
- Participation with nondisabled children. The IEP must explain the extent (if any) to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and other school activities.
- Participation in state and district-wide tests. Most states and districts give achievement tests to children in certain grades or age groups. The IEP must state what modifications in the administration of these tests the child will need. If a test is not appropriate for the child, the IEP must state why the test is not appropriate and how the child will be tested instead.
- Dates and places. The IEP must state when services will begin, how often they will be provided, where they will be provided, and how long they will last.
- Transition services needs. Beginning when the child is age 14 (or younger, if appropriate), the IEP must address (within the applicable parts of the IEP) the courses he or she needs to take to reach his or her post-school goals. A statement of transition services needs must also be included in each of the child's subsequent IEPs.
- Needed transition services. Beginning when the child is 14 (or younger, if appropriate), the IEP must state what transition services are needed to help the child prepare for leaving school.
- Measuring progress. The IEP must state how the child's progress will be measured and how parents will be informed of that progress. The tests or other methods of evaluation that will be used to decide if the student is meeting the annual goals and learning objectives and how and when this progress will be reported to parents are also noted. Progress must be reported at least as often as progress is reported for general education students.