What are the contents of an IEP?

By law, there are certain things an IEP must include about the student and the educational program designed to meet his or her needs. This information includes:

Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP):  
The IEP must state how the student is currently doing in school. This information comes from many sources and may include the evaluation of classroom tests and assignments, formal tests used to decide special education eligibility and observations from staff, teachers and parents.The “functional performance” includes how the student’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.

Goals and Objectives:
This section defines the areas of focus for educational planning. Goals  describe what the student is expected to accomplish within a year of writing the IEP. The goals are directly related to the student needs as described in the PLAAFP and current evaluation. The goals should be measurable. You should let the team know what goals are priorities for your family. Short-­‐term objectives are the steps that help the student reach the goals. There must be at least two objectives for each goal.

Special Education and Related Services: 
This area lists all services the district has agreed to provide. This is where direct and indirect services would be defined. Indirect service means your child doesn’t actually see that professional, but someone on the team receives consultative services in regards to the student. Direct service is the time that the child is personally involved with the specified professional. This section also defines what the special education service is, where the child will receive services, the amount of time, the frequency of the service, when they are to begin and how long the services will last.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Explanation:
The IEP must explain how students with disabilities will be educated, to the maximum extent appropriate, with students without disabilities. The IEP must explain the extent (if any) the student will not participate with non-­disabled students in the general classroom and other school activities. Special classes, separate schooling or other removal of students with disabilities from the general education environment may occur only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. If the student will not participate fully with non‐disabled students in the regular classroom and other school activities, the IEP must include a statement indicating the reason(s) for the alternate environment.

Progress Reporting:
The IEP must indicate the frequency, method and when student’s progress on goals will be reported to the parent or guardian. Parents should be informed of progress at least as often as parents of children without disabilities.

Program Placement Decisions:
Once all the elements of the IEP are determined, including services and supports, a placement decision must be made. The first placement option considered for each student with a disability must be the general education classroom with the provision of needed aids and services. This is termed the least restrictive environment. The law requires that students not be placed outside of the general education classroom unless their disability requires another setting. The team must always consider the unique needs of the student before making the final placement determination.

Instructional Alternatives:
Students with special education needs will be served in their home school and in the regular classroom whenever possible. There will be some instances when students are grouped for special education services within the district for the best instructional program. Some students are transported to other schools within the district or other districts for specialized programs.

Accommodations and Modifications:
Some students with disabilities may be able to participate in the general classroom and be successful with the use of accommodations or modifications. An accommodation allows students to do the same work as the other students but with a change that allows them to be more successful (i.e. taking a test in a quiet room rather than in the classroom). An accommodation does not alter the rigor of the material. A modification lowers the rigor of the material and changes what a test or assignment measures, as compared to the rest of the class. (i.e. a student only completing work on a portion of the material covered). Accommodations and modifications should be written into a student’s IEP. The agreed upon changes should fit the student’s individual needs. It is important to involve the student, as appropriate, in this process to get his or her ideas on what changes would be helpful.

Participation in State and District-­Wide Tests:
Most states require achievement tests to be given at various grade levels. The IEP must state what modifications or accommodations are to be provided when the test is administered to the student. If the team determines the test is not appropriate, the IEP must state the reasons why and what alternative testing will be used instead.

Extended School Year:
School districts are required to provide extended school year services (ESY) to students if the IEP team determines the services are necessary during a break in instruction in order to provide a free appropriate public education. The criteria used to determine ESY eligibility should be reviewed yearly. A student qualifies for ESY if he/she meets any of the following criteria:

  • There will be significant regression of a skill or acquired knowledge from the student’s level of performance on an annual goal that requires more than the length of the break to recoup.

  • Services are necessary to attain and maintain self-­sufficiency skills.

  • The IEP team otherwise determines that given the student’s unique needs, ESY is necessary.

The team decides eligibility for ESY using information from prior observation of the student’s regression and recoupment over breaks, either summer break or scheduled breaks in the school year. The team also may look at the student’s degree of impairment and rate of progress, among other things.

Monitoring IEP Progress:
It is important to monitor the progress of your child. Take the IEP home and read it over, compare it to the last one and make sure you understand and agree with the goals and objectives. It also is important to review the amount of time that each specialist designates to serve your child. You do not need to sign Prior Written Notice at the meeting. You have 14 calendar days to sign and return it. You can disagree with the IEP and state your concerns, which is your right as a parent. Put your disagreement in writing. The district needs to respond to your concerns within 14 calendar days.