The Basics of an IEP

The Basics of an IEP

Back to school means that a lot of IEP’s are going to be in progress throughout the school year, and some very soon. My daughter’s is due next month so it’s on my mind! Are you new to IEPs? Here are the basics you should know.

What is an IEP?
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a written document recording the education plan for a special needs student, basically any type of student with a learning diability. The IEP contains information about the disability, where the child is developmentally, what they need to learn, the goals for the school year, what services the school will provide the student and details about the learning environment. Goals that can be measured are created and documented to determine what improvements have been made year over year.

Why do students need an IEP?
Well, frankly, the Individuals with Disabilities Act requires it. By the law that every special needs student in the school system has a learning plan set out specifically for them that is created with the specifics for their learning ability and goals. The IEP will help the school and everyone providing services be on the same page, everyone involved in the students education has clearly outlined the needs of the student and what services are going to be provided.

How is the IEP created?
The IEP is created through a meeting in which all of the people involved in the student’s education meet together, review and discuss all of the goals.

Who is in the IEP Meeting?
The student.
The parents.
The student’s grade teacher (required).
The special education teacher (required).
The teachers who provide therapy services (Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, etc.).
Someone who can talk about the student’s evaluation results and what they mean (required, this may be someone who is already present, like the Special Education teacher).
A representative from the school system (usually the principal, required).
Anyone else invited by the parents who can represent the child.

How long does the meeting last?
The generally meetings usually last a half hour to an hour but can last longer if needed.

How frequently are IEP meetings held?
IEP’s are required to be updated on an annual basis. However, if an IEP needs to be updated or a parent feels like their child isn’t getting the services that they need, they can call an IEP meeting at any time. Similarly, if the school feels like the IEP needs to be reviewed again they can call a meeting at any time throughout the school year.


Sounds simple right? Well, not really… but it’s a good start to your IEP adventure. School services are often bound by costs, so sometimes you have to really buckle down and fight for your child. The more you know about the law and the process the better. A great website for more information regarding the rights of a student with learning disabilities is The National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Just don’t forget that everyone in the room is working toward the same goal, getting your child the best education possible and making sure that their time at school is valuable.

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *