10 Steps to the IEP Process

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a federal law, part of the Individual with Disabilities Act. The IEP must be written at least annually for all children with disabilities. Below are the following steps to an IEP.

Step 1. Child is identified as possibly needing special education and related services.

“Child Find.” The state must identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities in the state who need special education and related services. To do so, states conduct “Child Find” activities. A child may be identified by “Child Find,” and parents may be asked if the “Child Find” system can evaluate their child. Parents can also call the “Child Find” system and ask that their child be evaluated. Or —

Referral or request for evaluation. A school professional may ask that a child be evaluated to see if he or she has a disability. Parents may also contact the child’s teacher or other school professional to ask that their child be evaluated. This request may be verbal or in writing. Parental consent is needed before the child may be evaluated. Evaluation needs to be completed within a reasonable time after the parent gives consent.

 

2 Step 2. Child is evaluated.

The evaluation must assess the child in all areas related to the child’s suspected disability. The evaluation results will be used to decide the child’s eligibility for special education and related services and to make decisions about an appropriate educational program for the child. If the parents disagree with the evaluation, they have the right to take their child for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). They can ask that the school system pay for this IEE.

 

3 Step 3. Eligibility is decided.

A group of qualified professionals and the parents look at the child’s evaluation results. Together, they decide if the child is a “child with a disability,” as defined by IDEA. Parents may ask for a hearing to challenge the eligibility decision.

 

4 Step 4. Child is found eligible for services.

If the child is found to be a “child with a disability,” as defined by IDEA, he or she is eligible for special education and related services. Within 30 calendar days after a child is determined eligible, the IEP team must meet to write an IEP for the child.

 

5Step 5. IEP meeting is scheduled.

The school system schedules and conducts the IEP meeting. School staff must:

  • contact the participants, including the parents;
  • notify parents early enough to make sure they have an opportunity to attend;
  • schedule the meeting at a time and place agreeable to parents and the school;
  • tell the parents the purpose, time, and location of the meeting;
  • tell the parents who will be attending; and
  • tell the parents that they may invite people to the meeting who have knowledge or special expertise about the child.

 

6 Step 6. IEP meeting is held and the IEP is written.

The IEP team gathers to talk about the child’s needs and write the student’s IEP. Parents and the student (when appropriate) are part of the team. If the child’s placement is decided by a different group, the parents must be part of that group as well.

Before the school system may provide special education and related services to the child for the first time, the parents must give consent. The child begins to receive services as soon as possible after the meeting.

If the parents do not agree with the IEP and placement, they may discuss their concerns with other members of the IEP team and try to work out an agreement. If they still disagree, parents can ask for mediation, or the school may offer mediation. Parents may file a complaint with the state education agency and may request a due process hearing, at which time mediation must be available.

 

7 Step 7. Services are provided.

The school makes sure that the child’s IEP is being carried out as it was written. Parents are given a copy of the IEP. Each of the child’s teachers and service providers has access to the IEP and knows his or her specific responsibilities for carrying out the IEP. This includes the accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided to the child, in keeping with the IEP.

 

8 Step 8. Progress is measured and reported to parents.

The child’s progress toward the annual goals is measured, as stated in the IEP. His or her parents are regularly informed of their child’s progress and whether that progress is enough for the child to achieve the goals by the end of the year. These progress reports must be given to parents at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled children’s progress.

 

9 Step 9. IEP is reviewed.

The child’s IEP is reviewed by the IEP team at least once a year, or more often if the parents or school ask for a review. If necessary, the IEP is revised. Parents, as team members, must be invited to attend these meetings. Parents can make suggestions for changes, can agree or disagree with the IEP goals, and agree or disagree with the placement.

If parents do not agree with the IEP and placement, they may discuss their concerns with other members of the IEP team and try to work out an agreement. There are several options, including additional testing, an independent evaluation, or asking for mediation (if available) or a due process hearing. They may also file a complaint with the state education agency.

 

10 Step 10. Child is reevaluated.

At least every three years the child must be reevaluated. This evaluation is often called a “triennial.” Its purpose is to find out if the child continues to be a “child with a disability,” as defined by IDEA, and what the child’s educational needs are. However, the child must be reevaluated more often if conditions warrant or if the child’s parent or teacher asks for a new evaluation.

IEP Articles and Links

8 steps to a successful IEP meeting- Great Schools

10 things to cover at your child’s IEP meeting- Autism Support Network

17 things autism moms want you to know about IEP’s and your child- Living Well Mom

All about the IEP- Center for Parent Information and Resources

How can an IEP help someone with autism?- Applied Behavior Analysis

How are IEP’s designed for students with ASD?– Applied Behavior Analysis

IEP FAQ- Wrightslaw

IEP Guidelines- Down Syndrome Association of Ontario

Individualized Education Program for Autism- WebMD

Individualized plan for a student with cerebral palsy- Knoji

Learning about IEP’s– Understood

Learning Disabilities and IEP’s-Focus on Family

The short and sweet IEP overview- The Parent Center Hub

Understanding IEP’s– Understood

What is an IEP? – Great Schools

 

Data Collection for Special Education Teachers

Writing IEP goals and objectives includes collecting data to track the progress of the special needs student. The following links and resources includes information on measuring progression, organizing data and tracking IEP goals

16 hacks for making data collection a piece of cake

Data collection for IEP’s: Measuring progression toward a goal

Data collection for individualized education plan implementation

Data collection for special education teachers

How to organize special education data for easy review

IEP and goals data collection 

IEP data collection

IEP data collection methods

Tips for setting and tracking IEP goals

Using Google docs to collect data for IEP goals

How to Find a Special Education Advocate

Source: Understood

The special education and IEP process can be stressful and confusing. Many parents turn to a special needs advocate to guide them as they seek services for their child. But how can you find the right advocate?

Unlike attorneys, anyone can call themselves a special education advocate. And while there are training programs for advocates, there’s no formal licensing or certification. That’s why it’s important to do your research before hiring someone. Click here to read the rest of the story

 

Transition Planning Timeline

Click here for a printed version

One of the goals of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is to include transition planning services for all special education students at age 16. Transition planning is mandated through IDEA 2004 which serves to help students begin the process of preparing for post-school activities including, postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment and adult services. A timeline will help you stay focused on achieving each step.

The law states transition planning should begin no later than 16 years old or before. It is recommended transition planning should begin by age 14 since services are different in the adult services world including long waiting list depending on where you live and what services are available.

14 Years Old
  • Transition planning should begin no later than when your child is 14.4- It is the law in most states.
  • Begin to research agencies who provide services for individuals with disabilities
  • IEP meeting should focus on the student’s needs, interest in preparation for adulthood
  • Research various aspects of transition services
  • Begin to explore recreation activities
15 Years Old
  • Develop a vision statement
  • Transition goals should be part of the IEP
  • Begin to discuss home services
  • Attend information fairs that offer information on future planning including residential, guardianship and employment
  • Start planning an independence plan at home where possible
16 Years Old
  • Transition goals at the IEP meetings should be updated.
  • Confirm how long students will attend high school- 4 years or until age 21
  • Start the process of getting referrals to your state agency
  • Begin researching adult services and programs. Some waitlist can last for years
  • Initiate application to adult service agencies
17 Years Old
  • Confirm a graduation date
  • Update transition goals in the IEP
  • Begin to invite adult service providers to IEP
  • Begin to investigate guardianship information and the process
18 Years Old
  • Adult eligibility should be completed
  • Apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid.
  • Visit adult providers programs
  • Attend job fairs if appropriate
  • Establish legal guardianship if necessary
  • Explore future planning
18-21 Years Old
  • Refine vision statement
  • Revise and update IEP goals
  • Invite transition coordinator your child’s IEP meeting
  • Explore and obtain necessary funding for adult programs
  • Ensure there is a plan for medical/health coverage
  • Confirm all support services are in place.

Below is a free transition printable planning checklist. Feel free to download the PDF.

transition-planning

transition-planning-checklist

October- Special Needs Article Links

Welcome to the September Article Links. These are articles that I have tweeted during the month of September. I tweet articles and links everyday. Please make sure you follow me and I will follow you back!
  1. 30 Pieces of advice for employers working with people with autism- The Mighty
  2. 10 Things to never say to a person with a sensory processing disorder-Lemon Lime Adventures
  3. How to recognize sensory issues in your child- Integrated Learning Strategies
  4. It’s time we dispelled these myths about autism-BBC
  5. Before autism had a name- The Atlantic
  6. IEP Transition Planning: Preparing for young adulthood- Understood
  7. Supermodel Emily Prior hopes to inspire people with disabilities- The Advertiser
  8. The biggest myths about girls with ADHD-Psych Central
  9. What not to say to a child with ADHD- Brain Balance
  10. Autism spectrum disorder and the criminal justice system-RN
  11. Wide Awake: why children with autism struggle with sleep- Spectrum
  12. Why it’s so difficult to diagnose autism in girls-Slate
  13. Why recognizing dyslexia in children at school can be difficult- Mind Shift
  14. 10 facts you should know about autism- Seattle Organic Restaurants
  15. Young adults on the spectrum learn ins and outs of socialization- Disability Scoop

Infographic: Anatomy of a Special Needs Child

Anatomy of a Special Needs Child Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics