What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
An IEP is a legally binding, written plan that lays out the types of special education programing and/or services required by a particular student with an identified learning disability or medical condition that affects how that student functions in a classroom/school setting. (2) The various components that could be included in an IEP are summarized below.
According to the United States Department of Education, each public school child who is eligible to receive special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) which has been designed specifically for that individual student. It cannot be a “copy and paste” document where a child’s name is just inserted into a form letter or previously prepared document. (1)
“The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.” (U.S. Department of Education)
Qualification for an IEP
There are several steps to ensuring that a child qualifies for special educational assistance and, therefore, an IEP (compiled from the U.S. Department of Education).
IEP Qualification Step 1:
The child must be identified by parent or school professional as possibly needing special education and related services.
IEP Qualification Step 2:
The child is evaluated by the state-run “Child Find” process. If the parents disagree with the evaluation, they can ask for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) for their child, for which they can ask that the school system pay.
IEP Qualification Step 3:
If the diagnosis or evaluation places the child within the disability definitions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), then he or she is eligible for an IEP and an IEP must be developed within 30 calendar days of the identification. (1)
The child will need to be re-evaluated every three years to ensure that he/she continues to fall within the IDEA guidelines, and to re-examine if the child’s educational needs should stay the same or need to be adjusted.
IEP Qualification Step 4: