The IEP Process Overview
Referral: The best way to refer a student for assessment to determine eligibility for special education services is through the child’s teacher and the school’s Intervention Support Team (IST).
Assessment: Based on the concerns expressed on the IST referral, an assessment plan will be designed and explained to the student’s parent/guardian for approval.
Meeting to Review Assessment Results: The parent, principal (or designee), the child’s teacher and those who performed assessments will meet to review findings and determine appropriate services. Keep in mind that the goal is to serve students in settings that offer the most normal school experience as is appropriate.
Annual Reviews: At least every twelve months, the IEP team (principal, teacher, special education providers, parent/guardian) meets to discuss the student’s progress and set goals for the upcoming twelve month period. Three Year Reviews: Every third year, an extensive review is conducted and reported to the IEP team. Assessments may duplicate the thoroughness of the initial assessment.
The Individualized Education Program (IEP)
- An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) describes the special education and related services specifically designed to meet the unique educational needs of a student with a disability. The program is developed at one or more IEP meetings, and its provisions are detailed in writing in the IEP.
- The IEP is developed by a committee that includes at least a school administrator, the student's teacher, a special education representative, the parents, and the student when appropriate. It contains goals and objectives based upon the student's present level of educational performance. These goals and objectives are outlined by those involved in planning and providing services. In addition, the IEP specifies the educational placement or setting, and the related services necessary to reach these goals and objectives. It also includes the date the services will begin, how long they will last, and the way in which student progress will be evaluated.
- The IEP can be more than an outline and management tool of the student's special education program. It can be an opportunity for parents and educators to work together as equal participants to identify the student's needs, what will be provided to meet those needs, and what the anticipated outcomes may be. It is a document that is revised as the needs of the student change. The periodic review of the IEP serves as an evaluation of the student's progress toward meeting the educational goals and objectives. Finally, the IEP serves as the focal point for clarifying issues and cooperative decision making by parents, the student and school personnel in the best interest of the student. For all of these reasons, the IEP is the cornerstone of special education.
- In preparation for the meeting, parents/guardians are asked to: Bring any relevant medical or psychological information since the last year’s IEP meeting. In particular, reports outlining changes in the child’s condition, new medications that have been prescribed, new therapies, etc. Bring any specific concerns or observations about your child that might help in crafting goals and programs for the upcoming year.