INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM


If you have any questions regarding Individualized Education Program (IEP), please contact us for a Free Individualized Education Program Consultation.


Once it is determined that a student meets the criteria to receive special education and related services, an Individualized Education Program will be developed. An IEP is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet the student’s needs and is developed by a team. The IEP includes a detailed description of what will be done to give the student the extra help needed. The IEP will change based on the student’s needs—it is like a road map showing where the student is and where he or she is going.


Who is on the IEP team?

The following individuals are required to attend all IEP meetings:
• Parent(s) - Parents are equal participants.
• Student – The student may attend and participate if the parent(s) decide he/she should.
• General Education Teacher - Teacher responsible for implementing the IEP
• Special Education Teacher - Special education teacher responsible for the IEP.
• School Administrator - This person who has the authority to commit resources.
• Evaluation Personnel - This person who can explain evaluation and/or test results.
• Others with knowledge or special expertise about the student - The parents or the school may bring other people to the IEP meeting such as community service providers, advocates, lawyers, a friend for support etc. The law says these people must have some knowledge or special expertise about your child, but the determination of whether the person has special knowledge is up to the parent.

IEP Timelines to Remember

• The IEP meeting must occur within 60 school days from the date of the referral.
• The IEP meeting must occur within 30 days after the team determines eligibility.
• The IEP must be reviewed at least once a year
• Parents must be informed of their child’s progress on IEP goals.


What an IEP Includes

• Present levels of academic and functional performance
• Annual goals
• Measurements of progress and how progress will be shared
• What special education and related services will be provided
• How the child will access the general education curriculum
• The modifications or supports that will be provided
• Assessment information (which assessments will be administered)
• A description of any assistive technology, including training needed
• Special training or support that the student, the parent and school staff need
• A discussion if student needs additional help when school is not in session
• Beginning when the child turns 14½, appropriate transition services.
• The placement of the child that will implement the IEP.


Specifics about IEP Components

Present levels of academic and functional performance describe how the student is doing in different areas and how the student uses what he/she learned throughout the day. This part of the IEP should describe how the student’s disability affects his or her partipation in the general education curriculum and how the student performs in academic and nonacademic settings.


IEP Annual goals

A goal is something that can be obtained within a school year. Data should form the basis for instruction and the goals should be written to allow access to the general curriculum and other activities during or after school. Goals must be measurable, identify who will be responsible for working on them, and identify how progress will be reported to parents.


IEP Benchmarks or short-term objectives

Short-term objectives are the steps toward meeting the goals. A short term objective is something that can be attained within a reporting or grading period. Each benchmark or short-term objective should list the steps necessary to achieve the goal by the end of the school year.


IEP Progress toward goals

The IEP should include information about how the school will measure the student’s progress and when reports to the parents will be issued. The measurement should be clear enough so that parents can understand whether their child is being successful or not.


IEP Special education and related services

These services and supports assist the student to advance toward the annual goals, progress in the general curriculum, participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities, be educated and participate with all children. The IEP should include any additional training or support needed by the parents, educators, and paraprofessionals.


IEP Participation in the general curriculum

The IEP must explain how the child’s disability affects his/her participation in the general education setting and other school activities. If a student is removed from any part of the general curriculum, a statement explaining the reason(s) why must be part of the IEP. Adaptations or modifications can be used to support student success in the classroom.


Transition

For students who will reach the age of 14½ during the school year, the IEP must document a statement of transition service needs that focuses on the student’s course of study and goals to address those needs. Transition services are a coordinated set of activities that focuses on improving academic and skill achievement to prepare for life after school. The goals should include the needs for: training, education, employment, and independent living, where appropriate. Transition services may include academic instruction, related services, postsecondary education, vocational training, supported employment, community experiences, daily living skills, and work evaluation. Transition plans must include the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests. The student must be invited to the IEP meeting.

In preparing for the meeting, parents should:

• Think about what the child needs to learn to help them be successful after graduation
• Help students explore work and career options while still in high school
• Decide what skills the young person needs to live and work in the community after high school
• Make connections with education and training programs, colleges, agencies, and support services
• Assist in the selection of classes and services that might help the child be successful in his/her adult life
• Learn what agencies provide services to adults with disabilities in the community and invite them to the IEP meeting.


Transfer of rights at age of majority

The rights and responsibilities for special education serthe student at age 18. The district must inform the parents and student of the student’s right to delegate decision-making to another adult individual. At least one year before turning 18, the parents and the student will receive notices in writing from the school about the change. The district must document that the parents and the student received the notice and were told about the transfer of rights. The school must provide the student with a Delegation of Rights form (see ISBE form 34-57k located at www.isbe.net/spec-ed/pdfs/nc_deleg_34-57k.pdf). The school must use the ISBE form or one that is substantively the same.


Extended school year services (ESY)

These are special education and related services that 1) are provided to a student with an IEP beyond the normal school day/year, 2) are stated in the student’s IEP, and 3) are provided at no cost to the parents of the student. The decision about what services will be provided should be individually based on the needs of the student. Loss of knowledge/skills or an extraordinarily long time in relearning skills (regression/recoupment) can be part of, but not the only reason for determining ESY. No single factor can determine ESY, and ESY services may not be limited to particular categories of disability. ESY services may not be the same as services provided during the regular school year. The IEP team determines what services are provided during the ESY term. ESY services can be provided in school, at home, or in the community.


Other IEP Considerations

In addition to the required parts of the IEP described in the previous section, the following components can also be part of the IEP. The decision to add one or more of the following pieces will depend on the nature of the child’s disability and how it impacts the child’s performance in school.


Behavior

If a child’s behavior gets in the way of his/her learning or the learning of other students, then the IEP team should consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports.

The IEP of a student who requires a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) shall:

• summarize the findings of the functional behavioral assessment;
• summarize prior interventions implemented;
• describe any behavioral interventions to be used;
• identify the measurable behavioral changes expected and methods of evaluation;
• identify a schedule for a review of the interventions’ effectiveness; and
• identify provisions for communicating with the parents about their child’s behavior and coordinating school-based and home-based interventions.


Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

The language needs of a student who has difficulty understanding and speaking English must be considered by the IEP team. The IEP must include a statement as to the languages or modes of communication in which special education and related services will be provided, if other than or in addition to English. The IEP should also note any English language learning services the student may require, along with necessary support services.


Braille

For a student who is blind or visually impaired, the school shall provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP team determines, after an evaluation of the child’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille), that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child. For a child who is functionally blind or visually impaired to the extent that Braille instruction is determined necessary, the IEP team must consider the student’s reading and writing skills, the student’s communication needs, the student’s use of reading and writing media, and the student’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille Communication needs The communication needs of the student must be considered by the IEP team. An IEP shall be considered “linguistically and culturally appropriate” if it addresses the language and communication needs of a student as a foundation for learning, as well as any cultural factors that may affect the student’s education. For students who are deaf or hard of hearing, the IEP team must consider the student’s language and communication needs and opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel. The needs must address the student’s language and communication mode. The IEP team must consider the student’s academic level and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode.


Assistive technology

The term “assistive technology” encompasses a broad range of devices from “low tech” (e.g., pencil grips, splints, paper stabilizers) to “high tech” (e.g., computers, voice synthesizers, Braille readers). These devices include the entire range of supportive tools and equipment from adapted spoons to wheelchairs and computer systems for environmental control. Assistive Technology is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Consideration should be given to the needs of the student for assistive technology devices and services. The IEP team must decide if the student needs assistive technology devices and services in order to receive a Free, Appropriate, Public Education (FAPE). Additional Requirements for Students Who Have a Disability on the Autism Spectrum Recent changes to the Illinois School Code now require IEP teams to consider additional factors for students who have a disability that falls within the Autism Spectrum. If the student has a disability on the autism spectrum (which includes autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett syndrome, as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition [DSM-IV, 2000]), the IEP team shall consider all of the following factors:

• The verbal and nonverbal communication needs of the child.
• The need to develop social interaction skills and proficiencies.
• The needs resulting from the child’s unusual responses to sensory experiences.
• The needs resulting from resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines.
• The needs resulting from engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements.
• The need for any positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports.
• Other needs resulting from the child’s disability that impact progress in the general curriculum, including social and emotional development.


Parent Tips

IEP Questions—Things to Think About

• What has the student learned this year?
• What are the student’s strengths and interests?
• What are the concerns for the student’s education?
• What should the student learn next?
• What does the student want to learn next?
• What are the supports and services the student needs to make progress on her goals?


What Parents Can Do Before the Meeting

• Make sure you know who will be at the meeting
• If the meeting time doesn’t work for you, request a different time or date
• Share any medical, psychological, or other assessment information
• Have a list of priorities
• Write down any questions you might have

Some districts offer special assistance (such as child care) so that parents can participate in the IEP meeting. If you need support to attend your child’s meeting, ask your principal, special education teacher, or administrator for help. If you want to learn more about your rights and responsibilities, ask your school for information about organizations that offer support for parents of students with disabilities. Ask if your school offers training about special education issues. Your school should give you the help you need to play an active role in your child’s education, including an explanation of what options you have if you disagree with a decision made by the IEP team.


What You Need to Know About Excusal from IEP Attendance

Changes to IDEA in 2004 now make it possible for members of the IEP team to be excused from an IEP meeting. The important thing to remember is that excusal can only occur if the parent and the district agree to excuse the team member from the meeting.

• Members do NOT have to attend if their area not discussed IF PARENTS AGREE.
• Team members can be excused when the parent and the school agree.
• Team members may be excused if they submit their input in writing to the IEP team (including the parents) before the meeting.


Changes to the IEP Without a Meeting

After the annual IEP meeting for a school year, parents and the school district can agree to make changes to the student’s IEP without holding a meeting. A written document may be developed to amend or modify the child’s current IEP. Parents should make sure they understand and agree to any proposed changes and insure that the change is documented. If changes are made and the IEP is rewritten, the school must ask parents to sign a form that states that they understand that the IEP has been changed. The school must make sure that the IEP team knows about the changes and must give an updated copy to the parent.


Prior Written Notice

There are certain times when the school must put in writing its decisions about the child’s education and state the reasons for those decisions. This written communication is called prior written notice. Parents have the right to receive prior written notice whenever the school wants to do something or refuses to do something such as:

• Evaluate the child
• Change the child’s disability category
• Change the child’s educational placement,
• Change the way in which the child is provided a free, appropriate public education (FAPE), or
• Terminate special education and related service in response to a parent’s revocation of consent for special education placement.
Sometimes the school tells parents about its decision over the telephone, in a meeting, through an email, or in a conversation. However, even if the school informs the parent in one of these ways, the school still must provide the parents with prior written notice before it can proceed.


Revocation of Consent

If the parent agrees to allow the school district to make the student eligible for special education and related services, the parent has the right at any time to revoke consent for special education services. However, it is very important for the parent to understand that if consent for special education is revoked, the school district must terminate all special education services. As a result, the student will be considered a general education student and will no longer receive any services set forth in the student’s IEP. In order to revoke your consent for special education, Illinois law permits the parent to do so either in writing or orally (Federal law only allows you to revoke in writing). But to ensure that the revocation is received by the district, it is highly recommended that the parent provide the revocation in writing, or follow up the oral revocation with a short letter confirming that the parent has revoked consent for special education. A sample letter showing how to provide revocation in writing is provided at the end of the book, in Appendix A. The parent’s revocation of consent, whether orally or in writing, should be directed to either the district’s superintendent, the district’s director of special education or the person supervising the student’s IEP team (e.g., the case manager). Once the parent has provided revocation of consent to the district, the district must provide the parent with prior written notice to tell you exactly when the services for the student will end. Though the law does not explain the exact time when the district must provide the parent with its notice to end services, it’s recommended that the parent follow up with the school district if the notice has not been provided to him/her within ten days of revoking consent for services.


Parent Participation in Meetings

School districts are required to ensure parent participation in the discussions regarding their child’s evaluation. School districts are also required to ensure parent participation in the meetings to determine eligibility and plan the child’s IEP. This means that the local school district must contact parents in a timely manner to set a meeting time that is mutually convenient. There are different types of meetings that are held for different reasons—evaluations, eligibility determination meetings, annual reviews to develop the IEP for the coming year, transition, change in placement, and others. You can read other sections of this guide to get more details about the specific type of meeting in which you are interested. The following are some ideas parents can use to increase their involvement in school meetings - before the meeting:

• Tell the school if you have difficulty speaking or understanding English or if you are deaf and could use an interpreter or translator to understand what is said at the meeting.
• Prepare a folder to take to the conference that contains: (a) your child’s current IEP and progress report, (b) information you want to share about your child; (c) questions, (d) paper on which to take notes, and (e) any other information you want to discuss.
• Review your child’s school records, reports, IEPs and any other information you have that will be helpful during the meeting. Ask your child about his/her concerns and suggestions too.
• Request and review copies of any evaluations or draft goals that may be discussed at the meeting.
• Write down questions, concerns, and any suggestions you have regarding special education, related services, or placement.
• Prepare a statement about your child, including positive things that he /she can do. Sometimes your child is able to do certain tasks at home that have not yet been demonstrated at school.
• Plan to have your child attend the meeting to speak about what he/she likes about school and what he/she would like to learn. If 18 years of age or older, your child has the right to decide if he/she will attend, unless you have obtained legal guardianship.
• Invite other people to the meeting who might help you feel at ease or who have important information to share about your child. It often helps to have someone with you to take notes at the meeting, so that you can focus on the meeting itself. Let the school know whom you have invited. During the Meetings:

• Introduce yourself and your child. Give your child a chance to talk about what is important to him/her. Make certain that you talk about your child’s strengths and needs. You may want to read a prepared statement, mentioned above.
• Ask the other IEP team members to introduce themselves by name and job title. You have the right to ask that any person present who was not listed on the school district’s meeting notice be excused from the meeting. Please note that the district does not have to honor this request if the person is relevant to the discussion.
• Maintain a positive attitude.
• Try to stay focused.
• Take notes on discussions, recommendations, follow-up items, and scheduled dates/appointments.
• Ask school personnel to explain terms, language or statements that are unclear.
• Set a regular time to contact the teacher to discuss your child’s progress.
• Ask to schedule an additional meeting if your questions and concerns cannot be answered in one meeting. After the Meetings:

• Follow through on any commitments you made during the meeting.
• Add documents from the meeting to your files.
• Contact the teacher periodically to see how the program is going.
• If you are not in agreement with what occurred at the IEP meeting, be certain to write a statement of disagreement to be attached to the IEP.


If you feel that you are not being provided an appropriate Individualized Education Program, please contact us for a Free Individualized Education Program Consultation.