How is it determined if a child needs an IEP?
After an adult contacts Child Find or school staff, the school's IEP team meets to review information about the child. If the team suspects that the child has a disability and may need special education, assessments in all areas related to the suspected disability are recommended. These can usually be completed by staff at the school.
The IEP team reviews written reports of the assessments, which include summaries of how any identified disabilities may affect the child's progress in school. The IEP team then completes the evaluation (within 60 days of receiving signed permission from the parent/guardian to assess the child or 90 days from the date of receipt of the written referral, whichever comes first). The parent is given a copy of the assessment reports, the evaluation report, and the IEP team meeting summary.
The evaluation report includes a determination of whether
- A disability has been identified
- Because of the disability, the child requires special education to be successful in the education setting
If both these things have been determined, an IEP is developed.
What's in an IEP?
An IEP has these components.
Present levels of educational performance. This includes information about the child’s strengths and needs as determined through evaluations by teachers, parents, and school staff. The evaluations can include observations, written or verbal comments, and assessment results. It the child requires services besides those related to academic needs (e.g., language development, behavior, social skills), these concerns will also be outlined.
Goals. The IEP must include measurable goals that can reasonably be accomplished in one year. Goals are based on present levels of educational performance and focus on the child’s needs resulting from the disability. They can be academic, social, or behavioral, or can address other educational needs — but in all cases they should be written to support the child in the general curriculum.
Special education and related services. This describes the set of services that will put the IEP into action and how the services will be delivered. Students with disabilities receive services in the "least restrictive environment." The general education classroom is the preferred setting, but a range of options is available depending on the child's needs. Also included here will be
- Time during which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and other school activities
- When services will begin, where and how often they will be provided, and how long they will last
- Transition services (for students who are 16 or in the IEP that will be in effect when the child turns 16)
- Supports and strategies for behavior management (if behavior interferes with the child's or others' learning)
- Speech or language needs as related to the IEP
- Assistive technology devices or services
- Necessary accommodations (testing, modified work, etc.)
- Transportation arrangements, if required
Who is on the IEP team?
Typically, the IEP team includes the following:
- General education teacher
- Special education teacher
- Social worker
- Speech pathologist
- Nurse/health-related service provider
- School administrator
- Outside agency personnel
Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns?
The IEP chair can answer questions about your child's IEP and delivery of services. You can also speak with your school principal.
If you do not receive the information you need or you have a concern that isn't being addressed at the school, please contact the Special Education department in the district's Academics Office.