Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
Individual education planning (IEP) is the process whereby teachers, support personnel, and parents work together as a team to meet the needs of individual students who require a range of supports. The team develops outcomes or goals based on a student’s current needs and skills, and writes the plan for the school year in the student’s IEP. The written plan is called an IEP.
Who Needs an IEP
All teachers are encouraged to consider the potential benefits of individual education planning for a wide range of students with very different needs. Most IEPs are written for students who need support for behavioural and learning or cognitive skills. An IEP will be developed when parents and staff together decide that this is the best way to meet a student’s special needs. An IEP must be developed for a student who needs course modifications (M designation) or individualized programming (I designation).
Purpose of an IEP
The purpose of an IEP is to provide a plan to help a student meet individual outcomes or goals beyond his or her current skills. For this reason, an understanding of what a student can and cannot do is essential to the individual education planning process. Each IEP is individual to the student for whom it is designed. As members of the IEP team, parents should be part of the individual planning process and sign the IEP for their child.
Components of an IEP
All IEPs, regardless of the individual needs of a student, contain certain essential components:
- student identification and background information current levels of performance that reflect team
- consensus on the student’s abilities and needs
- student-specific outcomes or goals
- performance objectives
- teaching methods, materials, and strategies
- the names of team members who will implement the IEP, and the setting(s)
- where it will be implemented
- plans and timelines for evaluation and review stages
Stages of Developing an IEP
Developing an IEP involves the following four stages:
- gathering and sharing information
- setting direction
- developing and writing the IEP
- implementing and reviewing the IEP
These stages may occur in different sequences or may be worked on simultaneously, depending on the individual needs of the student. As parents and as members of your child’s team, you can be actively involved in all stages of the IEP-development process.
Stage 1: Gathering and Sharing Information:
You are a source of valuable information in the initial stages of developing and setting the direction of the IEP for your child. You can provide information about your child in areas such as the following:
- aspirations and goals for your child personality traits
- interests, talents, and desires
- strengths and needs
- family and educational history that affects your child’s present
- learning situation
- current medical history and health care needs
Stage 2: Setting Direction:
Choosing priorities helps the team focus on what is most important for your child to learn each school year. At this stage, the team establishes these priorities based on all the information that has been gathered so far. To determine priorities, the team needs to do the following:
- List your child’s learning needs.
- Rank your child’s learning needs in order of importance.
- Select your child’s most important learning needs for the school year.
To determine your child’s most important learning needs, the team needs to consider the following questions:
- Does your child need this skill now?
- Will this skill be used for other learning?
- Will this skill help your child be more independent?
- Is the goal appropriate for your child’s age and grade?
- How long will it take to learn the skill?
- How useful will the skill be for your child in other environments?
Stage 3: Developing and Writing the IEP:
As part of your child’s team, you can offer ideas and information for the development of student- specific outcomes. These outcomes or goals usually indicate what the student might accomplish in a specific area in a determined amount of time during the school year. They are often written according to subject areas (e.g., language arts, mathematics) or planning domains (e.g., communication, self- help, functional, academic, social, behavioural, fine and gross motor skills).
Stage 4: Implementing and Reviewing the IEP:
At this stage of the IEPdevelopment process, the team members review the student-specific outcomes and decide how they will know when the student has met the goals. Teaching and assessment strategies are put into practice. At this time the team reviews the content of the IEP in relation to the student’s timetable (either classroom or individual) to make sure that the IEP is being carried out daily.
The team will decide how often it is necessary to meet throughout the school year. During review meetings, your child’s progress within the IEP is discussed, and possible changes to the plan are considered. It is important for you to attend these meetings so that you can discuss your child’s progress and be part of the planning for next steps. At least once a year, usually in the late spring, the team will review the IEP and plan for the following school year. An IEP is written for the next school year using the information gathered from the current school year.
Promoting Successful IEPs
The IEPs that are most effective in promoting student learning involve parents as active and equal team members in planning and implementation are working documents, linked to daily planning and activities identify clearly who is responsible for teaching a student on a daily basis and for gathering information about progress are ‘living’ documents, changed to reflect a student’s circumstances and progress link clinician and consultant reports and recommendations to daily programming.
For More Information:
For more information about Individual Education Planning, see http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/ks4/specedu/iep/index.html