THE IEP: A process and a document

The development of the IEP gives parents the opportunity to work with educators as equal partners to identify their child’s needs, what will be provided to meet those needs and what the anticipated outcomes may be. The process of collaborative goal setting allows both educators and parents to combine their separate areas of expertise to plan for the specific needs of a child.

The IEP is also a legal document, a written description of the program developed for the child. It is a written statement of the resources the school agrees to provide. The IEP document will be written at the PPT team meeting. A proposed IEP, labeled DRAFT, may be presented at or prior to the meeting, but changes should be made as the team works together to develop the student’s program.

Parents should familiarize themselves with each section of the IEP form and how to fill it out properly.


IDEA requires that the IEP include certain information about the child and the educational program designed to meet his or her unique needs. Read through State Dept. IEP Manual and Forms, page by page.

Present levels of performance

The IEP must include a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, based on objective data from assessments. This information may come from evaluation results (such as classroom tests and assignments), tests given to determine eligibility for services, re-evaluations and observations made by parents, teachers, related service providers, school staff or experts. The statement also includes a reference to how the child’s disability directly affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum. Parental input is essential.

Annual goals

These are goals that the student can reasonably accomplish in a year. The goals are broken down into short-term objectives or benchmarks. Goals may be academic, functional, focus on social or behavioral needs, relate to

physical needs or activities of daily living or address other educational, non-academic or extracurricular needs. The goals must be measurable, meaning that it must be possible to measure whether or not the child has achieved the goals. A good acronym to keep in mind when writing goals and objectives is SMART: Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Active, Relevant & Realistic, and Time-limited.
State Dept. IEP Manual (Pages 13-16);
Measurable Goals.

Measuring educational progress

The IEP must state how the child’s progress toward meeting his or her annual goals and objectives will be measured and how and when parents will be informed of that progress. In order to help parents monitor their child’s progress, they will receive an IEP update on a quarterly basis, along with the child’s report card.

Transition planning

Beginning when the child is age 15 (or younger, if appropriate), the IEP must address transition planning. It must include appropriate, measurable post-secondary goals, based upon age-appropriate transition assessments, related to training, education, employment, independent living skills, where appropriate and the transition services needed to assist


How to Be an Effective Advocate for Your Child

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