What Is an IEP? | Individualized Education Program Explained
An IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. You’ll hear people talk about IEP in different ways. There’s IEP teams. There’s IEP meetings. And the IEP, it stands for that plan itself. It puts into place what’s called specialized instruction, which can be help in the general education classroom. It can be small group instruction. It can be one-to-one instruction. It can even be outside the classroom to help your child get the skills he needs to be able to work in the general education classroom. But sometimes it can be as simple as something called accommodations. And those accommodations are simple changes to the way things are being taught in the environment to help your child get there better. So, for example, a child who needs glasses— a child who needs eyeglasses needs those eyeglasses to see better. A child who needs accommodations might just need a change in where he’s sitting. Or he may need a change in the way the information’s presented. For example, he may not do well with verbal directions. But if the teacher provides them in written form, it may be more helpful to him. There are also related services that can be put into place, things like occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling services. Those are all related services that help your child meet the
goals that are put into place by his specialized instruction. The IEP plan has goals. It has services. It talks about your child’s strengths and his needs. And it has what’s called a present level of performance. And the present level of performance talks about how your child’s doing now. And all the other pieces fit together with how your child is doing now. The goals talk about how we’re going to put those services into place to make sure that your child is moving forward, to make sure he’s getting the same free appropriate public education as other children his age. If you have an IEP, the federal law is very clear about who needs to be on that team. The parents are a very important part of the team. You have as much expertise about your child as you can bring to the table, and that’s specified that you’re part of that team. A general education teacher. An administrator, so the principal of the school or the special education director. A special education teacher, and anyone else who might be part of your child’s team. A school psychologist, an occupational therapist, or a physical therapist are all supposed to be part of this team by law.