Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.
IEP & 504 Plan
Students who qualify for the learning disabilities classification are entitled to a formal plan that describes how the school will support your child’s educational needs. Learn how these statements—called the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan—are developed and monitored.
IEP & 504 Plan
When you are making a decision about how to seek support for your child at school it’s important to know your options to request help under the federal law. There are two laws for K-12 students in public school that may offer supports and services: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Schools that receive federal funding are obligated to serve students under Section 504; however, no federal funds are provided to directly support offering Section 504 services.
As parents, teachers, and students, you talk about Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, all the time. Why, then, do they still cause so much confusion, or overwhelm—as our community indicated in a recent survey. IEP Headquarters intends to change that. First stop: Check out “Your IEP Roadmap,” a visual guide to the IEP process.
Some of the statements made to parents at IEP meetings are “conversation stoppers”—comments that create barriers and can prevent the IEP team from working cooperatively to develop effective special education services and supports for students with disabilities.
My son Jay was identified with multiple learning disabilities when he was just a toddler. When he was admitted to a school in New York for special education students, no one knew whether he could ever learn to read. I do not know where in his soul he found the drive and motivation, but he learned to do what many people said could not be done—he learned to read at age nine.
My name is Alex, and I am the father of twin second graders, Holly and Josh, who attend elementary school in Delaware. Holly and Josh were born 12 weeks premature. Their pre-maturity resulted in both children having hydrocephalous as well as various learning disabilities. I have participated in IEP meetings for five years starting when Holly and Josh were three years old.
If your child is struggling in school because of a learning disability (LD), an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) might be an option to support his or her K–12 educational needs. Every public school child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP, and it’s hard to understate just how important this document is—it’s the cornerstone of a quality education for many students with disabilities.
The Individualized Education Program (or IEP) lays out the school’s commitment to provide special education and related services to your child. Developed annually, an IEP must be tailored to the individual needs of your child, with your involvement and input. Once formulated, the IEP becomes your roadmap to track your child’s progress throughout the year.
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a formal commitment from the school that outlines the services and support it will provide to an eligible child in order for the child to benefit from the educational program. An IEP must be developed before a student can begin receiving special education services. It also must be reviewed and updated each year so that the child receives the most appropriate services he needs at that time.
IDEA 2004 provides that certain IEP team members can be excused from attending all or part of an IEP meeting. However, if a member requests excusal and his or her area of curriculum or related services will be discussed in the meeting, that member must notify the IEP team (which includes the parents), in writing, prior to the meeting. Parents must provide informed written consent for this type of excusal.
This Parent Perspective features Alex, the father of twin second graders who both have Hydrocephalus (a medical condition also known as "Water on the Brain") as well as various learning disabilities. Alex has attended IEP meetings since his children were three years old.
The following is a transcription of the podcast, “Standards-Based Individualized Education Program (Audio).”
This podcast features Dr. Margaret McLaughlin, Professor in the Department of Special Education and Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Exceptional Children and Youth, University of Maryland and Laura Kaloi, NCLD's public policy advisor.
Dr. McLaughlin discusses the basics of Standards-Based Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), what they are, why they're important to parents, students, and schools, and how they differ from traditional IEPs.
In this Parent Perspective, Ilise, the mother of student with multiple learning disabilities discusses why she felt that her son Jay needed to attend every IEP meeting. She felt that If he was going to understand what was happening in his education, he had to be part of the process, and couldn't imagine a successful IEP without his buy-in.
PLAAFP, or Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (referred to in some states as “PLOP,” or Present Level of Performance) is, as an NCLD parent leader puts it, the heart, soul and fidelity of your child’s IEP. It details your child’s disability and how it impacts his or her ability to access and make progress in the general education curriculum. You know you have a well-written PLAAFP if a stranger can read it and understand everything about your child’s present levels and educational needs.
Making Changes to the IEPAfter the initial IEP is finalized or later IEPs are agreed upon (usually annually), IDEA 2004 provides new ways that parents and schools can make changes:
Given the complexity of the IEP and IEP process—and its importance to a child’s education—it’s understandable that parents often feel overwhelmed. In fact, the whole IEP process can be an emotional roller coaster, as we learned from a survey we conducted in 2012. We asked parents what feelings they have ever experienced during the IEP process. The results were eye-opening, with over half of respondents saying they felt overwhelmed, confused, powerless, and/or intimidated. On a more positive note, many of those surveyed said they felt (or had at some time felt) hopeful, confident, thankful, and trusting.
My child’s teacher knows what’s in my child’s IEP.
Unfortunately, you can’t assume that your child’s teacher knows what’s in your child’s IEP. It’s important that parents make an effort to meet with the teacher and others working with or supporting your child’s learning or behavior needs at school, especially when:
Recently a senior at our high school in the Bronx, who we’ll call Maria, realized that there will be some huge changes when she starts college. The consistent attention, specialized instruction, and accommodations she is currently guaranteed by her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will not simply be given to her. There is no streamlined system that mails her IEP to the institution of her choice—in fact, the services she qualifies for under IDEA will stop when she graduates.
Is your child moving to a new school this year? A move like this—or even the jump to a new grade level—can be a stressful transition for you and your child. One concern: Perhaps you’re worried about how well the IEP, or Individualized Education Program, will make the transition along with your child and if the new school or teacher will even honor the IEP.
Legal representation: Just thinking about it seems so overwhelming and off-putting for many parents. How bad does it really have to be before you decide that you need the help of an attorney to hold your hand (both literally and figuratively) through the IEP process? Well, I can tell you from experience that it has to be pretty awful to go to that extreme. I don’t think any parent really wants to believe they can’t get what their child actually needs from the school district without legal representation, but it’s sometimes the case.
Why You Should Read Your Child’s IEPSince 1993, when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a child with an IEP was only entitled to an education that was the equivalent of a “serviceable Chevrolet,” and not to a Cadillac, much has been made about the rights of a child with a disability to reach his or her maximum potential.
The Dream IEP TeamIf only? Parents are there: confident, ready, and relaxed. I walk in as the educational advocate and am not viewed as an adversary or pit bull. All of your child’s service providers are in attendance, and if there are evaluation results, they are clear and easy for parents to understand. The special education administrator attends and remembers that special education is at no cost to you, the parent.
Use this handy checklist to get organized for your next IEP meeting. Here are things you may want to prepare and take to the meeting:
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