What is an IEP?

An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan, and it is developed for students with special needs.  It is a document that summarizes their needs and how their program has been individualized to meet their needs. 

It includes the student’s goals, the steps to be taken for an individual to achieve these goals, and how their progress towards these goals will be judged.  It lists any adaptations, modifications and additional services the student will receive and how/who will deliver these services.


What is an IEP for?

An IEP formalizes the decisions and processes made in an IEP meeting that link the student’s assessments with their programming. It provides the individuals involved with a record of the student’s program and serves as the basis for any reporting on the student’s progress based on the goals and objectives agreed upon in the IEP meeting. 

The IEP documents any supports, adaptations and modifications for the student’s educational program.  Most importantly, an IEP provides students and their parents an opportunity to have input in their individualized planning process.


What MUST an IEP contain?

An IEP is not meant to document every single aspect of a student’s program.

There are three things an IEP must contain:  

  1. It must include any modifications to the student’s program, specifically any goals or outcomes that are unique to the student and not found in the applicable program guide for the student’s grade. 
  2. It must include a list of any support services the student requires to achieve their personal goals. 
  3. It must contain a list of any adaptations needing to be made to the student’s educational materials, instructional strategies or methods of assessments.


What SHOULD an IEP contain?

There are several things that, while not required to be in an IEP, should be included in it:

  •  The IEP should include information about the student’s current level of achievement and where they are receiving their education.
  • It should have all the names of the personnel who will be supporting the student throughout the school year.
  • It should state the period of time the current IEP is valid for and how it will be reviewed the following year.
  • It should provide evidence of evaluation and or review of previous IEP goals and objectives
  • When appropriate, it should list plans for the student’s next transition point in their education.

What does an IEP look like?

The length and content of an IEP will vary depending on the needs of the child.  Some students only require minimal adjustments to their learning outcomes, and this can be completed in a brief one-page document.  Others with more complex needs will require a detailed report that addresses the comprehensive plans and accommodations as are necessary for the student. The format of your child’s IEP will depend on the school district they attend.

Who needs an IEP?

An IEP is created for students with special needs who require changes to the standard educational program.  Students with special needs require an IEP if they require more than just minor adaptations to educational materials, instructional methods or the manner of assessments. 

Students who have their educational program modified, so they are not working on the prescribed learning outcomes of the curriculum require an IEP. 

Students who require remedial help of 25 hours or more in an academic year from someone other than their classroom teacher for them to meet the expected learning outcomes require an IEP.

There are times when an individual with special needs would not require an IEP.  Some students may not require any or only minor adaptations to educational materials, instructional or assessment methods. 

Students do not need an IEP if they do not require any modifications to the learning outcomes for their educational program. 

Students with special needs who require 25 hours or less in an academic year of remedial instruction time by a person other than their classroom teacher for them to meet the expected learning outcomes do not require an IEP.


Who is involved in the IEP process?

Creating an IEP is a collaborative process involving a group of members chosen specifically to help the student reach their goals. 

The IEP team will typically include teacher(s), administrative staff, support personnel such as educational assistants, and representatives of the appropriate district, community and regional agencies needed to best support the student.  The number of people involved in the IEP and the number of people involved will depend on the particular student’s needs.  If a student has a learning disability, the team will likely be smaller than an individual with multiples issues.

Schools are required to invite the parents of the individual in question to be part of the consultation process for the IEP. Depending on the circumstances the student themselves will also have the opportunity to contribute to the planning of their IEP.


Where does someone need to have an IEP?

Students with special needs in Kindergarten through grade twelve in the public education system.  Private schools will often have a similar document for their students with special needs, but they are not always referred to as IEPs.


When is an IEP created?

An IEP is created for a student as soon as is practical for the school once the student has been identified to the school board.  Once the IEP has been created, it needs to be reviewed once a school year.  In some instances, a student’s IEP may be reviewed more than once a year.


Why is an IEP created?

An IEP is created to provide accountability for a student’s individualized goals.  It discusses how these goals will be met and assessed. 

The IEP lists any additional services a student will receive and how these services will be delivered.  It contains any changes that have been made to the student’s program such as accommodations and modifications.

The IEP provides information on how a student’s teacher(s) should monitor their growth and progress throughout the school year. It serves as an ongoing record of the student’s progress through school, and it helps to provide continuity in their educational goals from year to year. 

The IEP is vital in supporting the student through the various transitions they go through before, during and after their time in the school system.


How is an IEP created?

An IEP is a living document that is created with a collaborative group of individuals working together to create the best program for the student. 

Creating an IEP involves a dynamic cycle of planning the IEP, creating the document, monitoring the progress made on the goals stated in the IEP and evaluating to ensure the goals were appropriate for the student and that they are making progress towards the goals.


*Please note the information about Individualized Education Plans was based on information for students attending school in British Columbia. Individualized Education Plans are commonly used in educational settings, but the information here may not be consistent with the requirements of education systems outside of British Columbia.

Did you know that Garforth Education has created two online courses, A Parent’s Guide to IEPs and A Teacher’s Guide to IEPs? These courses were designed to give you a clear understanding of the IEP Process and they guide you through the steps you should take to prepare for IEP meetings.

Be sure to check out the more information about IEP’s on our Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and Twitter pages.

If there is anything we can do or post to help you learn more about IEP (or any other topic for that matter) please send an email to blog@garfortheducation.com

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