The IEP Process
The IEP Document
Deciding Your Child's Placement
Participating in the IEP Meeting
Being a parent is the most wonderful-and hardest-job in the world.
If you have a child with special needs, your job is no less wonderful, but it
can be more complicated.
Your child's education is most likely an area of great interest to you.
As a child with a disability, he or she may be eligible for special education
services in school. If so, then it will be important for you to learn:
more about special education,
what special education can do for your child, and
what part you can play in the special education process.
The good news is that there is a lot of information available for parents.
This Parent's Guide (1) can help you begin to learn what you need
to know. This guide explains the basics of the special education process and
gives you information on how to be an effective partner with your child's
Thanks to a powerful and important federal law called the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, children with disabilities are entitled
to a "free appropriate public education" (often called FAPE). (2)
This means that schools must provide eligible children who have a disability (3)
with specially designed instruction to meet their unique needs at no cost to
the child's parents. This specially designed instruction is known as special
education. (4) The IDEA includes lots of information to help
states design special education programs for children with disabilities. The IDEA also includes regulations to protect the rights of parents and children. (5)
Getting to know the IDEA will be very useful to you, because it is the basis
of your child's educational rights. NICHCY can help you learn about the
IDEA. We have many publications that explain the IDEA's requirements.
Some publications are short, others go into detail. All are available on our
Web site-www.nichcy.org. You can also
call us toll-free to request a copy of these publications.
It's also helpful for you to know the policies of your state and local
school district. States must meet the minimum federal requirements of the IDEA,
but they can also give students and parents more rights and services.
Call or write your state department of education (or your local school district)
and ask for a copy of your state (or local) special education regulations. There
may also be a special education handbook or parent guide available from your
state or local district.
One of the most important parts of the special education process is creating
a plan for your child's education. This plan is called the Individualized
Education Program, or the IEP. The IEP is the foundation for your child's
education, and you are a very important member of the team that develops it.
Your child's IEP lists the specific special education services your child
will receive, based upon his or her individual needs. This is why it is so important
that you understand and help develop your child's IEP.
We've packed a lot of information into this guide. If you've never
helped to create an IEP before, this information may seem strange and overwhelming.
It helps to think of the IEP both as a process and as a document to be written. Understand the process one step at a time-it has many parts.
Learn the process of writing the document the same way. It, too, has many steps.
You will quickly become familiar with all the steps to writing an IEP. If
your child continues to receive special education each year, you will soon become
an IEP expert yourself!
§ Special Symbols in This Issue §
As you read this Parent's Guide, you may notice the easy reading
style. While this style makes it easier to understand IDEA's IEP requirements,
it prevents the verbatim use of the Federal regulations for IDEA. Therefore,
we've included endnotes that refer to specific sections of the Federal
regulations. An example is 34 CFR §300.347, which is the section of the
IDEA that describes the "Content of IEP." You can use these references
to find the precise sections of the Federal regulations that address the issue
So, for example, if you wanted to read exactly what the IDEA says about the
content of the IEP, you would look under Section 300.347 of the Code of
Federal Regulations for Title 34 (sometimes referred to as 34 CFR). The
symbol § stands for "section."
I. The IEP Process (6)
Appendix A to the IDEA says-
"The IEP meeting serves as a communication vehicle between parents and
school personnel, and enables them, as equal participants, to make joint, informed
the child's needs and appropriate goals;
the extent to which the child will be involved in the general curriculum
and participate in the regular education environment and State and district-wide
the services needed to support that involvement and participation, and
to achieve agreed-upon goals.
Parents are considered equal partners with school personnel [emphasis
added] in making these decisions, and the IEP team must consider the parents'
concerns and the information that they provide regarding their child ..."
What's involved in developing my child's IEP?
The process of developing your child's IEP involves two main things:
(1) the IEP meeting(s), where you, your child (at times), and school
staff members together decide on an educational program for your son or daughter;
(2) the IEP document, which puts the decisions from that meeting
in writing. Among other things, this document lists the services and supports
your child will receive.
The whole IEP process is a way for you and the school to talk about your child's
needs and to create a plan to meet those needs. Let's look at the process,
starting with the IEP meeting.
The IEP meeting is somewhat formal. By law, certain people must attend. People
sign in to show who is there. Lots of papers are looked at and passed around.
People will talk about your child, his or her needs and strengths, and what
type of educational program would be appropriate. And, little by little, blank
spaces on the IEP form get filled in.
Sometimes it can be a real challenge for a parent to keep up with the discussion.
It may be even harder to slow it down. But you should feel free to ask questions
and offer suggestions. You will also want to feel comfortable that the team
has spent enough time talking and planning before filling out the forms. Many
parents say their first experience in an IEP meeting was a lot like Emily's
Emily was three when we had our first IEP meeting. I didn't really
know what an IEP meeting was. Someone told me what the initials meant and
what we were supposed to do, but the whole idea seemed so strange to me. Making
an educational plan for a three-year-old? I was worried about potty training
and getting Emily to sleep through the night and to stop crying all the time!
Anyway, when we had the meeting I met a lot of people whose names I
couldn't keep in my head. A lot of pieces of paper got passed around.
The teachers and therapists talked about what Emily needed to work on at school.
Some of it sounded okay. Some of it, I just couldn't picture in my head.
I spent most of the meeting nodding-like I understood-and agreeing
Later, I realized that if I had visited a class, asked questions, and
had someone explain what they were doing, I might have talked more and asked
more questions at the meeting. And I don't think I would have felt so
anxious sending Emily to school for the first time.
I've gotten better with each IEP, though. I don't just nod
anymore! I know the school wants to do what's right, but they can't
do it alone. I have to be there to speak up, share what I know about Emily,
ask questions, and offer suggestions. Emily's IEPs are a lot better
now, because we all really work together.
Where and when do IEP meetings take place? (8)
You and the school agree on where and when to have the IEP meeting. Usually,
meetings are held at school during regular staff time. This means the meeting
can happen before, during, or after the regular school day. By law, the school
must tell you in writing:
what the purpose of the meeting is,
the time and place for the meeting,
who will be there, and
that you may invite other people who have knowledge or special expertise
about your child to the meeting.
The IEP must be done no more than 30 calendar days from the date your
child is found eligible for special education services.
You must agree to the program, in writing, before the school can carry
out your child's first IEP.
The IEP must be reviewed at least once every 12 months.
It may take more than one meeting to write a complete IEP. If you find more
time is needed, ask the team to schedule another meeting.
You may ask for an IEP meeting at any time, if you feel that changes need to
be made to your child's educational program. Some teams like to meet near
the end of a grading period to talk about the student's progress and to
make changes to the IEP, as needed.
Who attends the IEP meeting?
Under the IDEA, certain people (listed below) must be part of the
IEP team. (9) It is important to note that there doesn't
have to be a different person for every role. Often, one person can carry more
than one responsibility on the team.
You, as Parent(s)
School Administrator-a member of the school district
who knows about the general curriculum (the same curriculum taught to nondisabled
children) and the resources available to the school. This person must also
be qualified to provide special education services or supervise services.
General Education Teacher-at least one general education
teacher, if your child is (or may be) participating in the general education
Special Education Teacher-at least one of your child's
special education teachers or, if appropriate, at least one special education
provider who works with your child.
Evaluation Personnel-someone who knows-
- about your child's evaluation,
- what the evaluation results were, and
- what the results mean in terms of instruction.
This could be a school psychologist, an administrator, or one of your child's
Your Child-If the IEP team will be talking about
how to prepare your child for life after high school (called planning for
transition services (10) or, simply, transition
planning), your child must be invited to the meeting. Otherwise,
deciding when and how your child will participate in the IEP meeting is
a decision you and your child can make. Students are encouraged to take
part in developing their own IEPs. Some students in elementary school come
to the meeting just to learn a little about the process or to share information
about themselves. As students get older, they take a more active role.
Other members of the team
Besides the people listed above, you and the school can invite other people
to the IEP meeting. This can include:
Therapists or other professionals who work with your child.
Translators or interpreters-If English is not your
first language, or if you communicate by using sign language, the law says
the school must provide an interpreter, if you ask for one.
Transition personnel-If the IEP meeting will include
planning for your child's life after high school, staff from outside
agencies may be invited to attend. This is especially true if an outside
agency may be responsible for providing or paying for transition services.
Others with knowledge or special expertise about your child - Many parents find it helpful to have a support person at the IEP
meeting. This may be another parent, a friend, an advocate, or a consultant.
Others could include student friends, private specialists, tutors, educational
consultants, or other school staff. Both you and the school have the right
to invite such individuals to join the team.
What do different team members bring to the IEP process?
As you can see, there can be many people on an IEP team. While everyone shares
in the discussion, you will find that each brings his or her own point of view
and experience. Let's look at what each person might add to your child's
The Special Education Teacher
Your child's special education teacher is a specialist about disabilities.
He or she understands how and when to use different teaching styles and instructional
methods to meet your child's needs. Usually, the special education teacher-
- has been involved in your child's
- understands the results, and
- can explain and interpret the results.
The special educator can talk about how lessons may need to be adapted or modified
to help your child learn. He or she may also talk about the supports and supplementary
aids your child may need to fully participate in learning and other school activities,
such as assistive technology, an instructional assistant, or peer buddy. The
special educator may take the lead in developing your child's goals and
objectives, focusing on those areas where your child has special instructional
needs. In many schools, the special educator also makes sure that all the people
who help your child learn follow the plan written in the IEP.
The General Education Teacher
The general education teacher knows the curriculum for your child's
grade level and what students in general education classes are typically expected
to do. If your child is going to be educated in the general education classroom
for any part of the school day, then the general education teacher will talk
about what your child will be taught and expected to learn. He or she may also
talk about any supports, changes, and services your child needs to be successful.
These supports and services might include adapting the curriculum, providing
lower reading level materials, using graphics in addition to written materials,
or providing your child with a student assistant. The general education teacher
may also tell the rest of the team what he or she needs to help your child understand
the general curriculum and achieve the goals listed in the IEP.
As a parent, you bring very important
information to the IEP meeting. You know your child better than
anyone. You know his or her strengths and weaknesses and all the
little differences that make your child unique. Your knowledge can
steer the team toward creating an IEP that will work best for your
child. You can tell the team what goals are most important to you
and to your child. You should also share your concerns. You can give
insights about your child's interests, likes and dislikes, and
learning styles. By being an active IEP team member you can ensure
that your child's IEP is developed with thought given to long-term
needs for a successful adult life.
Your job at the IEP meeting is to:
- learn and understand the process,
- share information,
- ask questions,
- offer suggestions,
- keep the team's focus on "the big
picture" and your child's long-term needs, and
- speak up on your child's behalf.
Being actively involved in your child's IEP is
your choice. To help you participate, the school must make
reasonable efforts to:
- schedule the IEP meeting so that you can
- provide an interpreter for you, if needed;
- inform you about the meeting; and
- inform you of your rights.
However, if you decide not to participate in
writing your child's IEP, the school can hold the IEP meeting
When your child participates in the IEP
meeting, it can have a powerful effect. Just having your child at
the meeting can make the IEP process come more alive. Requests and
suggestions that come directly from your child can carry more weight
than when you voice them. Many parents are sometimes surprised when
they hear their children speak about their disability, their
educational desires, and their goals for the future. And sometimes
teachers learn things about their students that they didn't know
Your child's role as an IEP team member,
depending on age and ability, can be as broad as your own or limited
to what you and he or she feel most comfortable with. When your
child is part of the IEP process, the program can be much more
worthwhile to him or her, instead of something to put up with.
Taking part in IEP meetings also helps your child learn to speak up
for him or herself and develop valuable self-advocacy skills.
The administrator at the IEP must know what
resources the school has available. This person must also have the
power to commit the resources needed so that services can be
provided as outlined in your child's IEP.
happens at the IEP meeting? (12)
At the IEP meeting the team will develop,
review, and/or revise the IEP document. You and the other team
members will work to create an IEP that is educationally appropriate
and that everyone can agree on. Before meeting, school staff usually
write down their ideas of what needs to be in your child's IEP. It's
a good idea for you to jot down what is most important to you. You
can share these ideas with other members of the team before the
meeting, if you wish. You can also ask the school to send you their
draft ideas, so you can look them over before meeting. Team members
can also get copies of your child's recent tests or evaluations.
During the meeting, each person takes a turn
in the discussion. Part of the discussion will include talking
Your child's strengths,
The results of the most recent evaluation of
The results of any general state or
district-wide assessments (tests) your child has taken, and
- Asking and answering the following
questions that are sometimes referred to as "special factors" (13) or "special
- Does your child have communication
- Does your child need assistive technology
services and devices? (14)
- Does your child's behavior interfere with
his or her learning or the learning of others?
- Does your child have a visual impairment
and need instruction in or use of Braille?
- Is your child deaf or hard of hearing and
have language and other communication needs?
- Does your child have language needs
related to his or her IEP, because English is not his or her
first language? (15)
If the answer to any of these questions is
"yes," the team will talk about what
your child needs and include this information in the IEP.
Usually, your child's primary teacher goes
first. If your child is already receiving special education
services, this will probably be the special education teacher. If
the meeting is to write your child's first IEP, then this person may be the general education teacher. The
teacher begins with how your child is doing in school. He or she
will describe your child's strengths and needs and how the
disability affects your child throughout the school day. Then
specialists, like a physical therapist or a speech therapist, will
discuss how your child is doing in these areas. They will talk about
your child's needs and how they plan to support your child's
education. Goals and objectives, related services, and all of the
required parts of the IEP will be talked about and decided on.
It's a good idea to share your ideas as the
meeting goes along. Remember, as a parent, you are an equal member
of the IEP team. You are an expert on your child. If you have
questions or concerns, speak up. Ask for more information or an
explanation if you need it. If you disagree with something you hear,
respectfully say so. Explain why, or offer your point of view. The
IEP meeting is a conversation and a dialogue. You and the other IEP
team members are putting your heads together to design an effective
program for your child. The main purpose of the meeting is to agree
on each part of the IEP so that the document can be written and
services can start.
IEP Document (16)
in the IEP?
In each state or school district the IEP form
can look different. Under the IDEA, the items below must be in every IEP. Each of these is discussed in detail below.
Your child's present levels of educational
Annual goals and short-term objectives;
How your child's progress will be
The specific special education, related
services, and supplementary aids and services to be provided to or
on behalf of your child, including program modifications or
supports for school staff;
An explanation of the extent (if any) to
which your child will not participate
with nondisabled children;
Any modifications your child will need when
taking state or district-wide assessments;
The dates when services will begin and end,
the amount of services, as well as how often and where they will
How you will be informed of your child's
By age 14, a statement of your child's
transition services needs, focusing on courses to be taken, and by
age 16, a statement of your child's transition services needs,
including the roles of other agencies;
Beginning at least one year before your
child reaches the age of adulthood (18-21, depending on your state
law), the IEP must include a statement that your child has been
informed of any rights that will transfer to him or her upon
reaching this age. Reaching the age of adulthood is called the
"age of majority" in the IDEA. (17) Not all states
transfer rights upon reaching adulthood. Refer to your state's
special education regulations to find out how this issue is
Each one of the items above is discussed in
detail during the meeting and is filled in on the IEP form. Let's
take a closer look at each of these.
Present Levels of Educational Performance
This section of the IEP describes how your
child is doing in school, based on current information. "Current"
information usually means information no more than a year old. The present levels of educational
performance statement (commonly called the "present level")
should cover all areas of development where your child may need
support. Some examples are:
- Academic skills-math, reading, writing
- Daily living or self-help skills-dressing,
eating, using the bathroom
- Social skills-making friends
- Sensory skills-hearing, seeing
- Communication skills-talking
- Mobility-getting around in school and the
- Vocational skills-working
Also included in the present level is
information about how your child's disability affects his or her
involvement in the general curriculum. (If your child is preschool
age, the team will want to know how the disability affects his or
her involvement in typical preschool activities and development.) In
other words, you and the rest of the team will talk about the impact
your child's disability has on his or her ability to learn and do
the kinds of things that typical, nondisabled children learn and do.
This information is then included in the IEP.
Where does the information for your child's
present levels of performance come from? If your child is new to
special education, this information will come from the tests and
observations done during your child's evaluation for eligibility. If
your child's IEP is being revised, the information may come from
evaluations done during the year (by the school or from an Independent Educational Evaluation or IEE
(18)). Teachers and others who work with
your child may offer information gained during your child's
day-to-day school routine. Information that you as a parent share
can also be included in your child's present level.
A well-written present level will describe:
your child's strengths and weaknesses,
what helps your child learn,
what limits or interferes with your child's
objective data from current evaluations of
your child, and
how your child's disability affects his or
her ability to be involved and progress in the general curriculum.
Below is an example from a well-written
present level for a 5th grader with learning disabilities. In
brackets we've indicated useful parts of present level statements:
objective data from evaluation, strengths, weaknesses, what helps
learning, and what hinders learning.
standardized testing using the Woodcock-Johnson (WJ-R)show David's
basic reading skills are at a beginning 4th grade level (standard
score = 89). His basic writing skills are at a 3.7 grade level
(standard score = 81). [objective data from evaluation]
His performance in basic reading and writing
is significantly below his ability. David makes errors when he reads and has
difficulty decoding (19) long words [weakness], but his comprehension skills are strong [strength]. David uses context cues and picture cues to
help him understand what he is reading [what helps learning]. He has a strong reading vocabulary [strength] .
When writing, David frequently misspells words and uses incorrect
punctuation [weakness]. It is much easier for David to
express himself by speaking rather than by writing. He sometimes gets frustrated when writing and hurries
through written work [what
Often, present level statements include
teacher observations as well as information from evaluations. This
information can give a more complete picture of what helps your
child learn and what limits your child's learning. For example:
He needs a quiet, separate place to do
She learns quickly when working in a small
He understands and remembers what he hears
about a subject. Learning by reading or looking at pictures is
difficult and doesn't work as well for him.
She imitates other children and learns from
Here is another example of a statement that
might be part of a present level.
Elise is essentially non-verbal and uses
many ways to communicate including: gestures, facial expression,
eye gaze, vocalizations, word approximations, head nod for yes,
head shake for no, and use of a Dynavox 3100 augmentative
communication device which she accesses with a head
In short, the present levels of educational
performance statement tells how your child is doing in school and
names those areas where he or she is having difficulty. A clearly
written and thorough present level is really
important, because it is the foundation for all of the IEP.
Goals and objectives are written based upon your child's present
level. Special education and related services are provided based
upon your child's present level and the goals and objectives that
result from that present level. So take your time in writing the
present level; be thorough. The information you include there will
be the stepping stone to writing the rest of the IEP.
Annual Goals and Short-term Objectives
Once your child's needs are identified, the
IEP team works to develop appropriate goals and objectives to
address those needs. An annual goal describes what your child can be expected to do within a 12-month
period. A short-term objective is a step
that will help your child reach that goal. Put another way, an
annual goal is similar to your destination on a trip, and the
short-term objective is the road you will take to get there. The
annual goals and short-term objectives section of the IEP builds
upon the present levels of educational performance. The present
level identifies what your child needs. The goals and objectives
should be written to address those needs.
Writing goals and objectives can be one of the
hardest parts of the IEP. One reason for this is because goals and
objectives can cover so many different areas. Depending upon your
child's needs, some goals and objectives may target areas of the
general curriculum. Other goals and objectives may target learning
that comes from a special education or individualized curriculum.
Examples of these could include teaching your child how to eat
independently, to use public transportation, or to read Braille.
Another area for goals and objectives may be your child's social or
emotional needs. These don't come under a typical "academic"
curriculum. But if your child has social or emotional needs, then
goals and objectives to meet these needs would be written into the
A well-written goal should be (a) positive,
and (b) describe a skill that can be seen and measured. It answers
skill or behavior?
in what manner or at what level?
Where?... in what setting or under
by what time? an ending date?" (21)
The box below shows an example of an annual
goal with short-term objectives for David, whose present level of
educational performance was shown above. The IEP team developed
David's reading goal and objectives by looking at the information in
his present level. Then they determined the skills that David needs
to learn in order for him to be able to read at a 5th grade
Example of an Annual Goal and Short-term Objectives
David will achieve a reading score at the
5th grade level or above, as measured by the Qualitative Reading
Given a list of 20 unfamiliar words that
contain short-vowel sounds, David will decode them with 90%
accuracy on each of 5 trials.
Given a list of 20 unfamiliar words that
contain long-vowel sounds, David will decode them with 90%
accuracy on each of 5 trials.
David will correctly pronounce 20 words
with 90% accuracy on each of 5 trials to demonstrate
understanding of the rule that where one vowel follows another,
the first vowel is pronounced with a long sound and the second
vowel is silent (ordeal, coast).
David will correctly separate 20 words by
syllables with 90% accuracy on each of 5 trials to demonstrate
understanding of the rule that each syllable in a word must
contain a vowel (les-son).
David will demonstrate understanding of
the meaning of new words by answering comprehension questions on
weekly teacher-made vocabulary tests with 90% accuracy.
Measuring Your Child's Progress
Effective goals and objectives are critical
parts of your child's IEP. Keeping track of your child's progress is
just as important. How will you and the school know if your child is
making enough progress to reach a goal by the end of the year? How
will the IEP team know when your child has met an objective? This
information must be included in the IEP. The IEP team must
- how your
child's progress will be measured,
- when your
child's progress will be measured,
- how well your
child needs to perform in order to achieve the objective, and
- how you will be
regularly informed of your child's progress.
Often, information on how well your child must
perform and how his or her progress will be measured is included
within the short-term objective statements. For example, in David's
first objective above, the phrase "with 90% accuracy on each of 5
trials" says how well David must perform to meet the objective. This
type of information is called evaluation
criteria. It tells how the student will be evaluated.
Well-written evaluation criteria are stated in
objective, measurable terms. Often, this progress is measured by
numbers or scores, as is shown with David's objectives (... with 90%
accuracy). As written, for objectives 1 and 2, if David correctly
decodes 18 out of 20 words in each of 5 trials, he will have
achieved those objectives. He is not required to decode all the
words with 100% accuracy.
Another way the IEP team could further define
how David's progress will be measured is by setting target dates
within individual objectives. For example:
Given a list of 20 unfamiliar words that
contain short-vowel sounds, David will decode them with
- 60% accuracy by December 1,
- 75% accuracy by March 1, and
- 90% accuracy by June 15.
In other instances, progress is not measured
in number scores:
By June 15, Vicky will complete the obstacle
course unassisted, as documented by the adapted physical education
In this example, the teacher will observe and
take notes while Vicky completes the obstacle course. Teacher
observation/notes are one way of checking progress. Other ways of
checking progress may include:
- reviewing class work and homework
- giving quizzes, tests, or teacher-made
- giving informal and/or formal assessments
(the QRI or Woodcock-Johnson, for example).
Services and Supports (22)
Under the IDEA, there are a variety of
services and supports available that your child may need as part of
his or her free appropriate public education. These services and
- Special education,
- Related services,
- Supplementary aids and services, and
- Program modifications or supports for
All of these services and supports are
designed to help your child:
reach his or her annual goals,
be involved and progress in the general
participate in extracurricular activities
(like after school clubs or sports) or other nonacademic
activities (23) (like recreation activities,
athletics, or employment), and
be educated and participate with nondisabled
children in these kinds of activities.
Let's take a look at what these services and
As we said earlier, special education is
instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of a
child with a disability. In the case of your child, this means
education that is individually developed to address your child's
needs that result from his or her disability. Since each child is
unique, it is difficult to give an overall example of special
education. It is individualized for each child. One way to
understand special education is to compare it to a typical general
In a typical general education class you may
have 25 to 30 students, about the same age and performing at about
the same level (usually within two years of each other). So, a
typical 3rd grade class may have children as young as 7 and as old
as 9. A few children may be performing below grade level, and a few
may be performing above grade level, but most will be at the 3rd
grade level. All of these students receive instruction based upon a
typical 3rd grade curriculum.
In a special education class of 7 to 9
year-olds, there may be 8 to 10 students, each with an IEP tailored
to meet his or her individual needs. Of these students, there may be
a wide variety of levels and skills. Some students may be working at
the pre-kindergarten grade level, others at the first, second, or
third grade level. There may be students whose special education
focuses primarily on speech and language development, cognitive
development, or needs related to a physical or learning disability.
Special education for any student can consist of:
an individualized curriculum that is different from that of same-age,
nondisabled peers (for example, teaching a blind student to read
and write using Braille);
the same (general) curriculum as that for nondisabled peers, with
adaptations or modifications made for the student (for example,
teaching 3rd grade math but including the use of counting tools
and assistive technology for the student); and
a combination of these elements.
It is also important to remember that the
education, services, and supports outlined in your child's IEP do
not necessarily cover your child's entire education. The IEP only addresses
those educational needs resulting from your child's disability. If
your child needs special education support throughout the school
day, for all activities, the IEP will cover all these needs. If your
child doesn't need special education support in one or more areas
(for example, physical education, music, or science), then the IEP
will not include these subjects. Your child will access them through
the general curriculum/class, with no additional special education
B. Related Services (24)
To help your child benefit from special
education, he or she may also need extra help in one area or
another, such as speaking or moving. This additional help is called related services. Many of these services
are listed in the box below.
Related services can include, but are not
limited to, any of the following:
Assistive Technology (25)
Orientation and Mobility Services
School Health Services
Social Work Services in Schools
It is the IEP team's responsibility to review
all of the evaluation information, to identify any related services
your child needs, and to include them in the IEP. Typically, schools
have staff who provide related services (such as speech therapists
or occupational therapists) to meet the needs of their students. But
if a related service is not available from the school, the school
can contract with a private provider, a public agency, or even
another school district to provide the service. Your school district
is responsible for making sure all services listed in your child's
IEP are provided, even if the district does not directly provide
Goals and objectives are written for a related
service just as they are for other special education services. The
box below shows an example for Elise for speech therapy services
(also called speech-language pathology services).
Example of an Annual Goal and Short-term Objectives Written for a
Area of Need:
Elise will use her augmentative
communication device to produce a thought, comment, or idea in 3
out of 5 trials with no more than 50% teacher prompts or cues.
Elise will use her device to communicate
40+ times per day.
Elise will combine letter-by-letter
spelling, word prediction, and preprogrammed phrases to produce
a complete seven-word statement.
Elise will combine letter-by-letter
spelling, word prediction, and preprogrammed phrases to answer
at least one "wh" question (who, what, when, where, why, how) in
Note that, just as with the goals and
objectives written for special education services, the goals and
objectives for related services need to include information on how
progress will be measured. Elise's IEP team chose to include this
information in the annual goal statement above. The phrase "in 3 out
of 5 trials with no more than 50% teacher prompts or cues" spells
out how Elise's progress will be measured.
Aids and Services (26)
This part of the IEP focuses on the other
kinds of supports or services (other than special education and
related services) that your child needs to be educated with
nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate. Some
examples of these additional services and supports are:
- adapted equipment-such as a pencil grip,
special seat, or cut-out cup for drinking;
- assistive technology-such as a word
processor, special software or a communication system;
- training for staff, student, and/or
- peer tutors;
- a one-on-one aide;
- adapted materials-such as books on tape,
large print, or highlighted notes, and
- collaboration/consultation among staff,
parents, and/or other professionals.
The IEP team must really work together to make
sure your child gets the supplementary aids and services that he or
she needs to be successful. Team members should talk about your
child's needs, the curriculum, and school routine, and openly
explore all options to make sure the right supports for your child
Modifications or Supports for School Staff
If the IEP team decides that your child needs
a particular modification or accommodation, this information must be
included in the IEP. (More is said about this in #6, see below.) Supports
are also available for those who work with your child, to help them
help your child be successful. Supports for school staff must also
be written into the IEP. Some of these supports might include:
- attending a conference or training related
to your child's needs,
- getting help from another staff member or
- having an aide in the classroom, or
- getting special equipment or teaching
Participation with Nondisabled Children
The IDEA says that each IEP must include:
"...an explanation of the extent, if any, to
which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in
the regular class . . . " (27)
As we said earlier in this publication, the
IDEA strongly prefers that children with
disabilities be educated in the general education class with
nondisabled children. In order to support your child in this
setting, the IEP team considers what your child needs in terms
- supports, and
- supplementary aids and services.
Even a child with many needs should be
involved with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate.
Just because a child has severe disabilities or needs modifications
to the general curriculum does not mean that he or she should be
removed from the general education class. (28) If your child is
removed from the general education class for any part of the school
day, the IEP team must include an explanation in the IEP.
Modifications for Your Child
Sometimes a student may need to have changes
made in class work or routines because of his or her disability.
Modifications can be made to:
- what a child is
- how a child
works at school.
Sometimes people get confused about what it
means to have a modification and what it
means to have an accommodation. Usually
a modification means a change in what is being taught to or expected
from the student. Making an assignment easier so the student is
not doing the same level of work as other students is an example of
a modification. An accommodation is a change
that helps a student overcome or work around the disability.
Allowing a student who has trouble writing to give his answers
orally is an example of an accommodation. This student is still
expected to know the same material and answer the same questions as
fully as the other students, but he doesn't have to write his
answers to show that he knows the information. What is most
important to know about modifications and accommodations is that
both are meant to help a child to learn. For example:
Jack is an 8th grade student who has
learning disabilities in reading and writing. He is in a regular
8th grade class that is team-taught by a general education teacher
and a special education teacher. Modifications and accommodations
provided for Jack's daily school routine (and when he takes state
or district-wide tests) include the following:
Jack will have shorter reading and writing
Jack's textbooks will be based upon the 8th
grade curriculum but at his independent reading level (4th
Jack will have test questions read/explained
to him, when he asks.
Jack will give his answers to essay-type
questions by speaking, rather than writing them down.
Modifications or accommodations are most often
made in the following areas:
- giving the student extra time to complete
assignments or tests
- breaking up testing over several days
- working in a small group
- working one-on-one with the teacher
- providing audiotaped lectures or books
- giving copies of teacher's lecture notes
- using large print books, Braille, or books
on CD (digital text)
- reducing the difficulty of assignments
- reducing the reading level
- using a student/peer tutor
- allowing answers to be given orally or
- using a word processor for written work
- using sign language, a communication
device, Braille, or native language if it is not English.
State or District-Wide Assessments
The IDEA requires that students with
disabilities take part in state or
district-wide assessments. (29) These are tests
that are periodically given to all students to measure achievement.
It is one way that schools determine how well and how much students
are learning. The IDEA now states that students with disabilities
should have as much involvement in the general curriculum as
possible. Therefore, more and more students with disabilities will
be participating in these general assessments. This means that, if
your child is receiving instruction in the general curriculum, he or
she could take the same standardized test that the school district
or state gives to nondisabled children. Your child's IEP must
include all modifications or accommodations that your child needs so
that he or she can participate in state or district-wide
The IEP team can decide that a particular test
is not appropriate for your child. In this case, the IEP must
- an explanation of why that test is not
suitable for your child, and
- how your child will be assessed instead
(often called alternate assessment). (30)
Ask your state and/or local school district
for a copy of their guidelines on the types of accommodations,
modifications, and alternate assessments available to students.
Location and Duration of Services
Each of the services your child needs is
written down in the IEP. The IEP must also say:
how often your child will receive the
service(s) (number of times per day or week),
how long each "session" will last (number of
where services will be provided (in the
general education classroom or another setting such as a special
education resource room), and
when services will begin and end (starting
and ending dates). (31)
The IEP team should also consider whether or
not your child needs to receive services beyond the typical school
year. This is called Extended School
Year or ESY services. (32) Some children receiving special
education services may be eligible for ESY services. Ask your state
and local school district for a copy of its guidelines for
determining eligibility for ESY. If you or your child's teachers
feel your child needs ESY services, it should be discussed during
the IEP meeting.
Reporting Your Child's Progress
Under the IDEA, you must be informed of your
child's progress on IEP goals at least as often as parents of
nondisabled children are informed of their children's progress. (33)
So, if typical students get regularly scheduled report cards, you
should get IEP progress reports for your child, at least as often.
In these progress reports look to see whether or not your child is
making enough progress to reach his or her goals by the end of the
year. If not, then you will want to talk to the IEP team about why
enough progress is not being made and what should be done about
Transition Services (34)
As your child gets older, you will start to
plan for the future. You, your child, and the rest of the IEP team
will consider many questions. What will your child do after high
school? Will he or she go to college or vocational school? Will he
or she work in supported employment or get a competitive job? Will
he or she live independently or continue to live at home? Will you
need help from other agencies to carry out these plans?
By the time your child is 14 years old, the
IEP must include plans to help him or her move on from high school
to life as an adult in the community. This is called transition
planning or transition services. You can
begin making plans for transition services earlier than age 14, if
the IEP team thinks that it is appropriate. At this age, transition
planning focuses on your child's transition service needs such as
his or her courses of study (for example, participation in advanced
placement courses or in a vocational education program). At age 16
(or younger, if the IEP team feels it's appropriate), your child's
IEP must include a statement of the services your child needs to
prepare for life after high school, including any interagency
responsibilities or needed linkages with outside agencies.
Transition planning is intended to help your
child consider and prepare for post-secondary activities (35),
including any of the following:
postsecondary education (such as a 2 or
4-year college or business school),
vocational training (to prepare for working
in computers, auto mechanics, or hotels/restaurants, for example),
integrated or supported employment (such as
a sheltered workshop, a job coach, or Vocational Rehabilitation
continuing and adult education (such as
classes offered by your community Adult Education office or
Department of Recreation),
adult services (such as a day program, group
independent living, and
participating in the community. (36)
Planning for transition is a very important
area for the IEP team to consider. When the team is going to talk
about transition, your child must be invited to the meeting.
Services must be based on your child's needs, taking into account
his or her preferences and interests. A lengthy discussion of
transition planning is beyond the scope of this Parent's Guide. However, because it is so
important, you will want to learn more about it. You will find more
information on transition in the list of Resources at the end of
of Majority (37)
When a student with a disability reaches the
age where one is considered to be an adult, (called the age of majority), the state may transfer to
the student all the educational rights that you, as parent, have had
up to this point. Depending upon your state law, this usually
happens between 18 and 21. Not all states transfer rights. But if
your state does, then the rights and responsibilities that you have
had for your child will belong to your child at the age of majority.
Beginning at least one year before your child
reaches the age of majority, you and your child will receive written
notice from the school telling you of the upcoming transfer of
rights (if any). When this happens, the IEP will include a statement
that you have received the notice and have been told about the
transfer of rights.
There are some exceptions to this transfer of
rights. For example, some children with disabilities may need to
have a guardian appointed to make decisions for them. Other students
may not have the ability to give informed consent (38)
with regard to their education. Or your child may be fully capable
of making these decisions, but still want your help in these
matters. In all these cases, the state can establish a way for you
to continue to represent your child's educational interests. You
will need to check your local and state IDEA regulations to find out
how this issue is handled.
Deciding Your Child's Placement
placement? How is my child's placement decided?
Once the IEP team has decided what services your child needs, a decision
must be made about where services will
be provided. Where your child's IEP is carried out is called placement. You as the parent have the right
to be part of the group that decides your child's placement.
In deciding your child's placement, the group
must make sure that your child has the maximum opportunity
appropriate to learn with children who do not have disabilities-in
academic, nonacademic, and extracurricular activities. (39)
This part of the law is called Least
Restrictive Environment or LRE.
Least Restrictive Environment is explained in
the IDEA as follows:
"... To the maximum extent appropriate,
children with disabilities ... are educated with children who are
nondisabled; and ... special classes, separate schooling or other
removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational
environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the
disability is such that education in regular classes with the use
of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved
IDEA also says:
The child's placement is determined at least
annually; is based on the child's IEP; and is as close as possible
to the child's home.
Unless the IEP requires some other
arrangement, the child is educated in the school that he or she
would attend if nondisabled.
When looking at placement options,
consideration must be given to any potential harmful effect on the
child or on the quality of services that he or she needs.
A child with a disability may not be removed
from education in age-appropriate regular classrooms just because
he or she needs modifications to the general curriculum. (41)
Often, the IEP team makes the placement
decision. In some places, the placement decision is made by another
group of people. In either case, under IDEA, the group that makes
the placement decision must include you, as the parent(s) and others
- are knowledgeable about your child;
- understand the meaning of your child's
evaluation data; and
- know the placement options. (42)
When discussing placement, the group should
consider your child's unique needs and determine what the least
restrictive placement for your child is, based upon those needs. A
placement that is least restrictive for one child may not be least
restrictive for another. What is least
restrictive for each child is based on that child's unique
needs. This means that the school system cannot use a "one size
fits all" approach to educating children who have a disability.
Decisions must be based on individual needs
as stated in the IEP, not on-
the child's disabling condition or label
(such as placement in a special class for students with mental
retardation just because a child has cognitive impairments),
disability program categories (placement in
an particular LD program just because a child needs LD services),
the location of staff,
the funds that are available, or
the convenience of the school district.
In making placement decisions, the group looks
to another important part of the IDEA, the continuum of alternative placements. (43)
The continuum includes the different options where children can
receive services. These options include placements such as:
- a general education class
- a special education class
- a special education school
- at home, or
- in a hospital or other public or private
A student's placement in the general education
classroom is the first option the
placement group should consider. Can your child be educated
satisfactorily in the general education classroom? What aids,
services, and supports does your child need to make this possible?
If the group decides that your child's needs can be met in the
general education class, with supports, then that placement is the
least restrictive environment for your child.
Participating in the IEP Meeting
So, your first IEP meeting is coming up. How
do you get ready? Here are some suggestions.
I do before the meeting?
Review the information on your child-from
home, school, or private sources (such as doctors, therapists, or
tutors). Ask yourself, "Do these records show the full picture?"
Fill in any missing pieces, if you can. (If you feel current
evaluations are not complete, you may want to ask that the IEP
meeting be postponed until more information can be gathered on
your child. Ask the school to evaluate your child and reconvene
the meeting when the results are available. Bring your records to
the meeting. You can also bring examples of your child's work (on
paper, audiotape or videotape) to show specific concerns or
insights you may have.
Talk with your child about the upcoming IEP
and ask about school. "What things are hard? What things are easy?
What do you want to work on this year?" Your child may have a lot
to say about his or her needs and interests. Students are often
much more aware of their strengths and weaknesses than parents
realize. Make notes on what your child says.
Think about your child's involvement in
general education classes. Consider his or her learning style,
special education needs, and social needs. How can these needs be
addressed in the IEP? What kinds of supports or services might
your child need in order to be successful in the general education
class? Ask your child what he or she wants or doesn't want in the
way of support.
If your child will be attending all or part
of the IEP meeting, explain how the meeting works in a way that he
or she can understand. Let your child know how important the
meeting is and that his or her opinions and input are valuable.
You may need to prepare your child to speak up at the meeting.
Talk with your son or daughter about how to share his or her
feelings about what is being proposed.
Do a Positive Student Profile (45) to share with the team. To do
this profile, you answer questions about your child (see box
below), which will help you organize your thoughts and focus
clearly on your child's strengths, needs, and goals.
a Positive Student Profile
Answer the following
questions about your child as a way to prepare for the IEP
1. Who is ____________? (Describe your
child, including such information as place in the family,
personality, likes and dislikes.)
2. What are __________'s strengths?
(Highlight all areas where your child does well, including school,
home, community, and social settings.)
3. What are ________'s successes? (List all
successes, no matter how small.)
4. What are ________'s greatest challenges?
(List the areas where your child has the greatest
5. What are _________'s needs? (List the
skills your child needs to work on and the supports he or she
6. What are our dreams for ____________?
(Describe your vision for your child's future, including
short-term and long-term goals.)
7. Other helpful information. (List all
relevant information, including health care needs, that has not
already been described above.)
Brainstorm with people (teacher, friend,
family members, tutor, therapist, consultant) to get some ideas
before the meeting. Write down things you feel must be
included in the IEP. Decide how you want to share this information
with the other members of the IEP team.
Ask other team members if they can share
their ideas about your child's program ahead of time.
Know your rights. Review the IDEA
regulations and other helpful publications (see the Resources
section at the end of this publication). Take the regulations with
you to the meeting in case you need them.
Are there any areas where you and the school
might disagree? Plan how you want to handle these. List any
information that might support your position. Think of
alternatives to offer if the school is not willing to accept your
first suggestion. Decide where you can compromise and where you
Figure out who can go to the IEP meeting
with you to help advocate for your child. Inviting someone to
attend with you is a good idea, even if this person only takes
notes. Another person may think of things during the meeting that
you do not. As a courtesy, let the school know if someone will be
attending the meeting with you. If an advocate will be attending
the meeting with you, review your agenda together before the
meeting. Above all, be sure that the advocate understands what
role you would like him or her to play in the IEP process.
What do I do during
your notes to keep yourself and the team on track. Keep the focus on your child's individual
needs and in creating a plan that will lead to success.
Remember your child's social and emotional needs, including the
need to be with nondisabled peers. Encourage the other members of
the IEP team to use simple language, so that anyone reading the
IEP can understand and carry it out.
- Ask questions
If a team
member says something you don't understand, ask the person to
explain. If someone says something about your child that you don't
agree with or have a question about, ask for backup information
that supports the person's statement (teacher notes, checklists,
evaluations). If you have different information, be sure to share
Make sure you
don't accept or reject a goal for your child based on incomplete
information. If a present level statement is appropriate, there
should be data to support it. If a goal is appropriate, there
should be documentation to back up the need. You want to make sure
that decisions are not made based upon a single event or random
- Be thorough
Make sure you
agree with the language in the present levels of educational
performance before you finalize goals
and objectives. Try not to move away from one area until you are
confident that it adequately addresses your child's needs. If you
find that needed information is not available at the meeting, have
the team make a note of what is missing, who will get the
information, and when they will get it by. Then you can agree to
move on and come back to discuss the issue when the needed
information is received.
What can I do if we
If the team cannot agree on a particular item
after several minutes of discussion, add it to your list of concerns
and suggest coming back to it later. Avoid getting stuck debating a
particular point over and over, especially if it feels like you are
not getting anywhere. You need to be clear in your mind on where you
can and cannot compromise. Communicate this in a reasonable and calm
way. Sometimes, the following words can help the team resolve an
"What will it take
for us to reach an agreement on this issue?"
"Why don't we just
try this for 6 weeks and see how it works?"
"I understand that
you can't say yes to this request. Can you tell me who does have
the authority? How do we get that person here?"
"We can all agree
that this is not an easy issue. But we need to find a solution
that will work for (your child) that we can all live
"I just don't see
this as being appropriate for (your child). There have to be other
options we haven't looked at."
One of the most difficult things in an IEP
meeting is keeping emotions under control. It is easy at times for
anyone at the meeting to get frustrated. Everyone has demands placed
on them that are outside of their control. The teacher has concerns
about meeting the needs of all her students, including your child.
Therapists may be concerned with how many children they need to work
with and how to fit everything that needs to be done into a single
school day. The administrator may be worried about having enough
staff, supplies, and equipment on a daily basis. And, like any
parent, you want what is best for your
child, even though the law says you are only entitled to what is most appropriate. It is a challenge to
balance all these needs and demands. The key to reducing frustration
and avoiding conflict is to be respectful of each other, even when
you don't agree. Keep coming back to the purpose of the meeting- to
develop an appropriate IEP for your child.
What if we still
If you've done as much as you can and still
cannot come to agreement on the IEP, there are several options open
If this is your child's first IEP, you can refuse to give
permission. (46) This means that the school may
not carry out the IEP. In this case, your child will not receive
the special education services outlined in the IEP.
Ask the school to give you prior written notice (47) on the
issue(s) you disagree upon. Written notice must tell you in detail
what the school is proposing or refusing to do, why, and what
information was used to reach the decision. (This includes:
telling you other options the school considered and why they were
rejected; describing each evaluation procedure, test, record, or
report used as a basis for the action being proposed or refused;
and describing any other factors that are relevant to what the
school is proposing or refusing to do.) With this information you
may be in a better position to convince the school to rethink its
decision or to proceed with the next step below.
If your child has been receiving services,
and you are disagreeing with an updated IEP, you may request mediation (48) or a due process hearing. (49) With
mediation, you and the school sit down together and try to work
out the disagreement with an impartial third person, called a
mediator. The mediator does not work for the school system. The
mediator helps you and the school talk about your differences and
work toward an agreement. The mediator does not make any decisions
for you or the school. The due process hearing is a formal, legal
procedure. You give the school written notice that you disagree,
the reasons why you disagree, and the solution you would like to
have. Both you and the school present your views on the matter to
an impartial hearing officer. After all the evidence is presented
and witnesses have spoken- much like in a court case-the hearing
officer decides the case and tells you and the school how the
matter is to be settled. He or she gives the decision in writing.
You can also file a
written complaint (50) with your state's department of
education. When you file a complaint, you must tell the state what
part of the IDEA you believe the school has violated. You must
also state the facts as you know them and provide copies of any
documents or correspondence on the matter that you may have. The
state will investigate your complaint, request documents if
necessary, and give a written decision.
There is a lot to know about each of these
ways of resolving problems with the school. You can learn more by
contacting NICHCY or by getting in touch with your state's Parent
Training and Information (PTI) center. Call NICHCY for the number of
your state's PTI or visit our web site, where you'll find the number
in the State
Resource Sheet for your state.
When the IEP is
completely written, am I supposed to sign it?
As the IEP meeting comes to a close, you will
probably be asked to sign the IEP document. Depending on the state
you live in, your signature on the IEP will mean different things.
In some school systems, your signature on an IEP means that you
agree with the IEP. In other states, a parent's signature on the
form simply means that the parent attended the IEP meeting.
There is no regulation that says you must sign
the IEP immediately at the end of the meeting, or at all. If you
feel the need to wait before signing the IEP, if you need to "sleep
on it" or share it with your spouse/child's tutor/consultant, say
so. You may wish to list specific items in the IEP that you want to
think about before signing ("I'm still uncomfortable with ____, and
I'd like to think about it some more"). This lets the school know
where you stand and gives everyone time to think of possible
solutions or compromises. Whatever you decide, read the IEP document
in its final version before signing. This is also a good time to
review the list of concerns you prepared before the IEP meeting. Did
the team talk about all of those items?
When all the talking is done, if you are
comfortable with the IEP, go ahead and sign. If you agree with
everything except one item, you can sign your agreement and add a
statement about the one item you disagree with. The team can
implement all of the IEP except that one item, until you do resolve
What do I do after
the IEP (and before the next one)?
Hurray! You've successfully completed an IEP
for your child. Now that you have a well-written IEP, you may want
to schedule a follow-up meeting after a month or so, so that you and
the rest of the team can talk about how things are going. Watching
your child work at school and talking with the staff will help you
keep track of your child's progress. Remember, if you ever feel that
the IEP needs to be changed, you can request an IEP meeting.
Even when you have done many IEPs, you can
still forget things from one IEP to the next. So, after each
meeting, jot down any thoughts you have about the IEP and the
process. What did you like? What did you not like? What would you do
differently next time? What will you do the same? When you are
finished, store your notes in a safe place so that you can read them
before the next IEP meeting. Keep in mind that developing an IEP is
a learning process. With time it gets easier. Maintain your sense of
humor and try to relax. Even though it can be hard, when parents and
schools truly work together, the process works and the best results
for your child can be realized.
Anderson, W., Chitwood, S., & Hayden, D.
(1997). Negotiating the special education
maze: A guide for parents and teachers. (3rd ed.). Bethesda,
MD: Woodbine House.
Bateman, B. D. & Linden, M. A. (1998). Better IEPs: How to develop legally correct and
educationally useful programs (3rd ed.). Longmont, CO: Sopris
Council for Exceptional Children. (1999). The IEP team guide. Arlington, VA:
Cutler, B. C. (1995). You, your child, and "special" education: A guide
to making the system work. Baltimore, MD: Paul H.
DeFur, S. (1999). Transition planning : A team effort
. NICHCY Transition Summary
, No. 10, 1-24.
(Available on-line at: www.nichcy.org)
DeFur, S. (2000, November). Designing individualized education program (IEP)
transition plans (ERIC Digest #E598). Arlington, VA: ERIC
Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. (Available
on-line at: http://ericec.org/digests/e598.html)
Douvanis, G., & Hulsey, D. (2002). The least restrictive environment mandate: How
has it been defined by the courts? (ERIC Digest #E629).
Arlington, VA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted
Education. (Available on-line at:
Drasgow, E., Yell, M.L., & Robinson, T.R.
(2001, November/December). Developing legally correct and
educationally appropriate IEPs. Remedial and
Special Education, 22(6), 359-373.
Families and Advocates Partnership for
Education (FAPE). (2001). Planning your
child's individualized education program (IEP): Some suggestions to
consider. Minneapolis, MN: Author. (Available on-line at:
Giangreco, M.F. (2001, December). Guidelines for making decisions about IEP
services. Montpelier, VT: Vermont Department of Education.
(Available on-line at: http://www.uvm.edu/~uapvt/iepservices/pdfs/decision.pdf)
Giangreco, M.F., Cloninger, C.J., &
Iverson, V.S. (1998). Choosing outcomes and
accommodations for children (COACH): A guide to educational planning
for students with disabilities (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul
Gibb, G.S., & Dyches, T.T. (2000). Guide to writing quality individualized
education programs: What's best for students with disabilities? Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Küpper, L. (Ed.). (1999). Individualized education programs (4th
ed.). Washington, DC: NICHCY. (Available on-line at: www.nichcy.org.)
Mager, R. F. (1997). Preparing instructional objectives: A critical
tool in the development of effective instruction. Atlanta, GA:
The Center for Effective Performance. (Available from amazon.com.)
McGahee-Kovac, M. (2002). A student's guide to the IEP
Washington, DC: NICHCY. (Available on-line at: www.nichcy.org
Office of Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education
(2000). A guide to the individualized
education program. Washington, DC: Author. (Available on-line
Siegel, L. M. (2001). The complete IEP guide: How to advocate for your
special ed child (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press.
Smith, S.W. (2000). Creating useful individualized education
programs (ERIC Digest #E600). Arlington, VA: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Disabilities and Gifted Education. (Available on-line at:
Smith, S.W. (2001). Involving parents in the IEP process (ERIC
Digest #E611). Arlington, VA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and
Gifted Education. (Available on-line at:
Sorenson, B. (Compiler). (2001). Resources on individualized education programs
(IEPs) (ERIC EC Minibib EB27). Arlington, VA: ERIC
Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. (Available
on-line at: http://ericec.org/minibibs/eb27.html)
Trevor, G.H. (Producer). (1996). The 3 R's for special education: Rights,
resources, results. A guide for parents, a tool for educators [video]. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Warger, C. (1999). New IDEA '97 requirements: Factors to consider
in developing an IEP (ERIC Digest #E578). Arlington, VA: ERIC
Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. (Available
on-line at: http://ericec.org/digests/e578.html)
West, L.L., Corbey, S., Boyer-Stephens, A.,
Jones, B., Miller, R.J., & Sarkees-Wircenski, M. (1999). Integrating transition planning into the IEP
process (2nd ed.). Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional
Wright, P.W.D., & Wright, P.D. (1999). Your child's IEP: Practical and legal
guidance for parents. Deltaville, VA: Authors. (Available
on-line at: www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/iep/iep_guidance.html.
Also consult: www.wrightslaw.com)
Getting a Copy of IDEA's Regulations
The IDEA regulations are in the Code of Federal Regulations, or CFR. They
were published March 12, 1999 and are referenced as 34 CFR, Part
There are 6 files total to download.
www.ideapractices.org. At this site you
can get Part 300 plus Parts 301, 303 (Part C-Infants and Toddlers
with Disabilities Program), and 304.
To get a copy by
Call EDPUBS at: 877-433-7827 (voice),
877-576-7734 (TTY/TTD). You can also order online via the EDPUBS
web site at www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html.
Call or write the Government Printing
Office at (202) 512-1800, Government Printing Office,
Superintendent of Documents, PO Box 37195-7954, Pittsburgh, PA
Bacon, Telephone: 1-800-666-9433. Web: www.ablongman.com.
Exceptional Children (CEC), 1110 N. Glebe Road, Suite 300,
Arlington, VA 22201-5704. Telephone: 1-888-232-7733. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Press, 950 Parker Street, Berkeley CA 94710-2524.
Telephone: 1-800-728-3555. E-mail: email@example.com. Web: www.nolo.com.
Paul H. Brookes
Publishing, P.O. Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624.
Telephone: 1-800-638-3775. Web: www.brookespublishing.com.
West, 4093 Specialty Place, Longmont, CO 80504. Telephone:
(303) 651-2829. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
House, 6510 Bells Mill Rd., Bethesda, MD 20817. Telephone:
1-800-843-7323. Web: www.woodbinehouse.com.
"Parent" includes anyone who is legally responsible for the care and
well-being of a child. This can be a guardian, grandparent,
stepparent, surrogate parent, foster parent, or natural or adoptive
parent. IDEA defines "parent" at 34 CFR §300.20.
34 CFR §300.13 Free appropriate public education.
34 CFR §300.7 Child with a disability.
34 CFR §300.26 Special education.
34 CFR §§300.500 300.577.
34 CFR §§300.340 300.347 -Individualized Education Programs.
34 CFR Appendix A to Part 300 Notice of Interpretation, II.
Involvement of Parents and Students, question 9, 1st paragraph.
34 CFR §300.342, §300.343, and §300.345(b)(1) When IEPs must be in
effect; IEP meetings; and Parent participation, respectively.
34 CFR §300.344 IEP team.
34 CFR §300.29(a)(1) Transition services. A coordinated set of
activities for a student with a disability designed to promote
movement from school to postschool activities, including
postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated or
supported employment, continuing and adult education, adult
services, independent living or community participation.
34 CFR §300.344 (a)(6) and 300.344(b) IEP team.
34 CFR §300.346 Development, review, and revision of IEP.
34 CFR §300.346(a)(2) Consideration of special factors.
34 CFR §§300.5 and 300.6 Assistive technology device; and
Assistive technology service, respectively.
34 CFR §300.19 Native language.
34 CFR §300.347 Content of IEP.
34 CFR §300.347(c) and §300.517 Content of IEP; and Transfer of
parental rights at age of majority, respectively.
Sometimes parents pay for evaluations done by outside professionals
and share them with the school. For information on an Independent
Educational Evaluation (IEE) that the school system pays for, see 34
CFR §300.502 or contact NICHCY.
Decoding means breaking apart, sounding out, figuring out.
Adapted from Anderson, W., Chitwood, S., & Hayden, D. (1997). Negotiating the special education maze: A
guide for parents and teachers (p. 78). Bethesda, MD: Woodbine
Anderson, W., Chitwood, S., & Hayden, D. (1997). Negotiating the special education maze: A guide
for parents and teachers (p. 79). Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
34 CFR §300.347(a)(3)(i) - (iii) Content of IEP.
34 CFR §300.306 Nonacademic services.
34 CFR §300.24 Related services; and Appendix A to Part 300-Notice
of Interpretation, Questions 30, 33, 34, and 35.
34 CFR §300.308 Assistive technology.
34 CFR §300.28 Supplementary aids and services.
34 CFR §300.347(a)(4) Content of IEP.
34 CFR §300.552(e) Placements.
34 CFR §300.138 Participation in assessments.
34 CFR §300.347(5)(ii) Content of IEP.
34 CFR §300.347(6) Content of IEP.
34 CFR §300.309 Extended school year services.
34 CFR §300.347(a)(7)(ii) Content of IEP.
34 CFR §300.29 Transition services.
Those activities that will take place when your child is done with
34 CFR §300.29(1) Transition services.
34 CFR §300.347(c) and §300.517 Content of IEP; and Transfer of
parental rights at age of majority, respectively.
34 CFR §300.500(b)(1) Consent.
34 CFR §300.553 v Nonacademic settings.
34 CFR §300.550 General LRE requirements.
34 CFR §300.552 Placements.
34 CFR §300.552(a)(1).
34 CFR §300.551 Continuum of alternative placements.
34 CFR §300.349 and 34 CFR §§300.400 to 300.462 Private school
placements by public agencies; and Children in Private Schools,
Adapted from: Creating Collaborative IEPs: A
Handbook (Rev. ed.). (2001). Richmond, VA: Partnership for
People with Disabilities, Virginia Commonwealth University. Web: www.vcu.edu/partnership.
34 CFR §300.505 Parental consent.
34 CFR §300.503 Prior written notice by the public agency; content
34 CFR §300.506 Mediation.
34 CFR §300.507 to §300.514 Impartial due process hearing; parent
notice to Child's status during proceedings, respectively.
34 CFR §300.660 300.662-State Complaint Procedures.
information is copyright free.
Readers are encouraged to copy and share
it, but please credit the National Dissemination Center for
Children with Disabilities (NICHCY).
|NICHCY Parent Guides are published in
response to questions from individuals and organizations that
contact us. NICHCY also disseminates other materials and can
respond to individual requests for information. For further
information or assistance, or to receive a NICHCY Publications Catalog, contact NICHCY,
P.O. Box 1492, Washington, DC 20013. Telephone: 1.800.695.0285
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all of our publications.
Project Director: Suzanne
NICHCY thanks our Project
Officer, Dr. Peggy Cvach, at the Office of Special Education
Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education.
Editor: Lisa Küpper
Theresa Rebhorn, Assistant Director
of Publications, NICHCY
|Publication of this document is made
possible through a Cooperative Agreement between the Academy
for Educational Development and the Office of Special
Education Programs of the U.S. Department of Education. The
contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views
or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention
of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply
endorsement by the U.S. Government.
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