An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) describes the special education and related services specifically designed to meet the unique educational needs of a student with a disability. The program is developed at one or more IEP meetings, and its provisions are detailed in writing in the IEP.
The IEP is developed by a committee that includes at least a school administrator, the student's teacher, the parents, and the student when appropriate. It contains goals and objectives based upon the student's present level of educational performance. These goals and objectives are outlined by those involved in planning and providing services. In addition, the IEP specifies the educational placement or setting, and the related services necessary to reach these goals and objectives. It also includes the date the services will begin, how long they will last, and the way in which student progress will be evaluated.
The IEP can be more than an outline and management tool of the student's special education program. It can be an opportunity for parents and educators to work together as equal participants to identify the student's needs, what will be provided to meet those needs, and what the anticipated outcomes may be. It is a document that is revised as the needs of the student change. The IEP is a commitment in writing of the resources the school agrees to provide. Also, the periodic review of the IEP serves as an evaluation of the student's progress toward meeting the educational goals and objectives. Finally, the IEP serves as the focal point for clarifying issues and cooperative decision making by parents, the student and school personnel in the best interest of the student. For all of these reasons, the IEP is the cornerstone of special education.
Thus an IEP is:
Comprehensive. The IEP covers all deficit areas, including communication, behavior, socialization, self-help, academics, perceptual-motor and gross-motor skills, vocational skills, and transition services, related services, and needed accommodations in both general (regular and vocational) and special education.
Specific. The IEP goals and objectives are stated in measurable, observable behaviors.
Sequential. The IEP is based on a developmental or functional sequence of skills.
Realistic and A.ppropriate. The IEP goals and objectives should fit the student's current level of functioning and probable growth rate.
Understandable. The IEP is written in language that is comprehensible to both parents and professionals. It communicates.
Mutuallv Developed. The IEP represents a consensus among parents, the student, and school personnel.
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