An IEP (Individualized Education Program) is a plan that caters to supporting kids who think and learn differently. Whenever public school children receive special education services, they need an IEP. It helps each child acquire quality education by guiding the delivery of educational support and services.
This program has created a golden opportunity for special services workers to work hand in hand with school administrators, teachers, and parents to simplify and ameliorate educational services for children with disabilities. An IEP guarantees robust teaching, learning, and better results for all special children.
An IEP is planned separately for every individual student and is customized depending on the demands and requirements of the student. This generates a functional tool, which helps closely observe the distinctive needs of the student. The key to a successful IEP is teamwork. If all the personnel involved are committed, it will help the student progress.
The IEP comes under the special education law, known as IDEA, which is the acronym for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act . The IDEA suggests including specific information in each child’s program according to the child’s needs, which is why an IEP varies from school to school and state to state.
Process of Identification of Students
The basic steps to identify a student with disabilities and special needs for IEP include:
- A child who needs special education and related services is identified and located through the “Child Find” system.
- The identified child is then evaluated for any suspected disability.
- The eligibility of disability is decided by a group of qualified professionals and parents of the child, by looking at the evaluation results.
- If the child is eligible for special services, the school staff schedules an IEP meeting within 30 days.
- The IEP team gathers at the given date, time, and location and writes the students IEP.
- The IEP services are provided to the student, and the school makes sure it is carried out as written.
- The student’s progress is measured and reported to the parents regularly.
- The IEP is reviewed every year and revised, if necessary.
- The student is reevaluated every three years.
According to the IDEA law, the contents of an IEP must include the following:
- The current educational performance of the child in school through classroom test scores, assignments, observation by parents and teachers, and the reevaluation process.
- Annual goals that the child can easily accomplish within a year or even short-term objectives. These goals may include academic, social, behavioral, or physical progress.
- A list of special education services such as supplementary aids or services required by the child. This also includes providing special training to schools for handling the child’s needs.
- Mentioning whether or not the child will participate in state or district-wide tests and what modifications are needed.
- The day, date, location, and duration of the services being provided to the child.
- The courses or subjects the child needs to take to reach his or her goals.
- The transition services needed for the child when leaving school.
- The method by which the progress of the child is measured parents are notified.
The school systems have a lot of freedom and flexibility when creating an IEP, which is why each child’s IEP is completely different; it is designed to meet his or her unique needs. The systems can decide on their own what information is necessary and what can be excluded. The most important thing is the parent’s consent when creating an IEP.
By law, certain individuals must be involved in writing a child’s IEP. These members are highly-qualified and trained professionals working as a team which include:
- regular education teacher(s)
- special education teacher(s)
- individual(s) who can interpret evaluation results
- school system representative(s)
- Transition Service Agency representative(s)
- Others with knowledge or special expertise about the child
Writing, Implementation, and Revisions
While writing the IEP, the team begins with the child’s current school progress, such as test scores and participation in extracurricular activities. The team also discusses specific information such as the child’s strengths, ideas to enhance education, evaluations, and reevaluations. Other information can include things like annual goals, participation in extracurricular and non-academic activities, and interaction with other children with disabilities and non-disabled children.
The two important additions in a child’s IEP are related services (such as audiology services, counseling services, medical services, physical therapy, psychological services, social work services in schools, and transportation) and transitional services, including transition planning, which begins at age 14 by helping the child decide a career path. Moreover, transition services are provided when the child is 16; these aid with employment, adult services, or independent living. This helps the student prepare for adult life by creating career goals or gaining work experience, whatever suits his or her needs and preferences.
After the IEP is written, the child is placed in specific classes that cater to his or her needs and specifications. Once that is settled, a copy of the written IEP is distributed to all the team members so that they can fulfill their responsibilities. After that, the IEP is implemented. It is also reviewed and revised in the following years.
Importance of IEP
An Individualized Education Program gives many people a unique opportunity to affect the lives of special or disabled children positively. These plans are distinctive because they focus on each child separately and include their strengths, goals, and modifications that are necessary for their development. IEP is a cornerstone of special education.
An IEP helps cater to the needs of people who might not have otherwise have access to specialized personnel.
IEPs are educational plans developed by a team of professionals and family members for a child with special needs. It involves many steps and collaborative decision making. IEPs are a great way to help children with special needs, the biggest benefit being that they are always individualized.