A Parent’s Guide to IEPs

A Parent’s Guide to IEPs

What is an IEP?

An Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, is a customized education plan designed to meet the unique needs of a student with disabilities. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), public schools are required to develop an IEP for every student receiving special education services. The plan outlines specific accommodations, modifications, and interventions that will help the student succeed academically.

Accommodations refer to changes in how a student accesses information and demonstrates learning without altering the instructional content or performance expectations. Examples include extended time on tests, preferential seating, or the use of assistive technology.

Modifications, on the other hand, involve changes to what a student is expected to learn and demonstrate. This can include simplified assignments or alternative assessments.

Interventions refer to the specialized instruction a student receives in order to increase their skills level in a certain area, hopefully reducing the gap between the student and their peers. This includes specialized reading instruction, speech therapy, social skills groups, and more.

The First Steps to Setting Up an IEP Accommodations Plan

Identify the Need for an IEP
The process begins when a teacher, parent, or other concerned party identifies that a student may have a disability that impacts their learning. This often involves observing the student’s performance and behavior over time and noting any consistent difficulties.

Request an Evaluation
Once a need is identified, a formal request for an evaluation can be made. This request can come from parents, teachers, or school administrators. The evaluation is a comprehensive assessment conducted by a team of professionals, including psychologists, educators, and other specialists, to determine the student’s eligibility for special education services.

Eligibility Determination
After the evaluation, a team of professionals, along with the parents, will meet to discuss the findings and determine if the student qualifies for special education services under IDEA. If the student is found eligible, the team will develop an IEP.

Develop the IEP
The IEP is a collaborative effort involving parents, teachers, school administrators, and other relevant professionals such as therapists. The plan outlines specific educational goals, the services the student will receive, and the accommodations and modifications needed to support the student’s learning. Key components of an IEP include:

    • Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP): A detailed description of the student’s current abilities and challenges.
    • Annual Goals: Specific, measurable objectives the student is expected to achieve within a year.
    • Special Education and Related Services: A list of services the student will receive, such as academic intervention, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling.
    • Accommodations and Modifications: Specific strategies and tools that will help the student access the curriculum and demonstrate their learning.

Implement the IEP
Once the IEP is developed, it is implemented by the student’s teachers and support staff. The accommodations, modifications, and/or interventions outlined in the plan are put into practice, and the student’s progress is monitored regularly.

Review and Revise the IEP
The IEP is a living document that is reviewed and revised annually, or more frequently if needed. The review process ensures that the plan remains relevant and effective in meeting the student’s needs. Parents and educators work together to assess the student’s progress and make any necessary adjustments to the plan. A student’s eligibility for special education services is reviewed every three years.

An IEP is a vital tool in providing students with struggling to succeed in school. By understanding the process and taking the appropriate steps, parents can work with educators and outside professionals to create an effective, individualized plan that fosters a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

If you have any questions or need further assistance with setting up an IEP, don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s school. At Galvin Growth Group, we are able to perform evaluations and work with parents to recommend beneficial accommodations and interventions for students. The summer is a great time to start this work as it will take time to develop the appropriate IEP plan!


Understood.org, What Is an IEP?

Great Schools, What Is an IEP?