Basics of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

If you are the parent or guardian of a student who has been referred for a special education evaluation, one of the first acronyms you will hear is “IEP”.  An IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, is the document that governs the delivery of special education services to a student.  After a special education evaluation is completed, and at least annually thereafter, a “Team Meeting” will be held.  The “Team” consists of you, representatives from the school district, the student’s teachers or aides, and anyone else you want to include, such as outside evaluators or therapists, a special education advocate, or your special education attorney.  The Team should also include the student when appropriate.  The goal of the Team Meeting is for you and the school district representatives to cooperatively develop the IEP, using input from teachers, aides, and professional evaluators.

An IEP will address many issues, but should start by outlining a broad vision for the student which can extend beyond the immediate school year.  The IEP should identify what the student has already achieved academically, socially, physically, and emotionally.  It should then set out goals for the student to meet in the upcoming year.  These goals must be broken down into specific objectives and benchmarks.  Each benchmark should contain objectively measurable targets which pinpoint exactly what tasks the student should be able to accomplish, and when the student should be able to accomplish those task.

The IEP will then list all of the services and support to be provided by the school, including out-of-district placements and other related services.  It should also address the student’s involvement in statewide assessment tests and, if the student is over the age of fourteen, outline how the student will be prepared for the transition into adult life.  Over the course of the IEP, the school district is required to provide these services, as well as regular reports on the student’s progress toward the benchmarks and objectives set out in the IEP.

If you have any questions about an IEP, are concerned that your school district is not providing the services required by the IEP, or are concerned that the services being provided are not leading to effective progress, contact me at or 413-570-3170.