IEP’s Individual Educational Plan: What It Must Cover


IEPs: What Must an Individual Education Plan Cover?

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is a Federal Law providing educational services for children with a disability.

Section 504 of The Civil Rights Law protects these students from discrimination in programs and institutions that receive federal money.  An IEP must be created for all children who have disabilities.  The goal of the IEP is to create a blueprint for the special education of a child with a disability so that the child’s learning experience is positive and their education maximized.

The law requires that IEPs be produced by a team of school personnel and the child’s parents.  The IEP must be periodically reviewed and revised over time.  Parents have the right to review and have copies of everything in their child’s academic cumulative folders (when asking for copies the school has the right to charge for them.  The per-page copy charge should not exceed the charge required from your local Clerk of Courts in your area).

There are three different types of files to look for:

  • An academic cumulative folder
  • A financial folder
  • A medical / psychological folder

When attending your child’s review (which should happen every year, or every few years), keep in mind the points below:

  • Don’t be afraid.  As an active and involved parent, you can ask for more time to review your child’s plan, or to ask the definition of a word mentioned in the IEP Plan.  If you notice a mistake in the plan, such as the child’s name spelt wrong, mention that to the team and make sure they correct it immediately.
  • Don’t sign anything until you are sure.  Take your time when being asked to sign papers.  Do not sign any papers until you understand exactly what the plan is for your child and how your child will receive the resources he or she needs.  You have the right to ask for more time and another appointment if needed.  Remember, as a parent of a child with special needs, you are your child’s advocate and are responsible for shaping your child’s future by providing the best education possible.

The Basics of an IEP

An individual IEP should consider how the child will be involved and participate in the following three aspects of school life:

  1. Academic activities and general education:  includes the basic subject matter that all kids must master, including math, history, social studies, science, and language arts.
  2. Extracurricular activities : include clubs, sports and social activities that kids participate in as part of organized school social activities.
  3. Non-academic activities:  include extracurricular activities that are not directly related to academics such as recreational clubs.

IEPs should typically provide a way for kids to participate and be effective in each of these three categories.

What an IEP Must Include

To comply with special education laws in the U.S., an IEP must meet certain requirements in outlining how a child’s social and academic development will proceed.  The IEP must contain:

  • Information about the child’s current levels of academic achievement.
  • A statement of annual goals that have clear metrics in place to determine if the goals are obtained.
  • A description of how the child is progressing in meeting annual goals.
  • Information on the special education services the child will receive.
  • Information on program modifications made for the child.
  • An explanation of the extent to which the disabled child will not participate in normal activities with his/her non-disabled peers.
  • Details on any individual accommodations necessary to help the child when completing state and district-wide testing.
  • The date that services and modifications will begin.
  • The location and duration of specialized services that will be provided to the child.

Approaching the End of Secondary School Education

When disabled students reach graduation and are concluding their secondary school education, the IEP must contain additional information to help create a plan for what will follow.  The IEP must include:

  • Information about transition services which are designed to help the student to prepare for life after high school has ended.
  • A statement that the child has been informed of his rights upon reaching the age of majority.  The statement must be made no later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority.
  • Measurable goals to be achieved once the child has left school.  This can include goals for employment, further education and independent living when possible.

The goal of the IEP, both during the child’s schooling and when the schooling is coming to an end is to help ensure that disabled children have the support and adaptations they need to succeed.

Additional Resources




Print Friendly, PDF & Email