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What Are the Benefits of an IEP?

What are the Benefits of an IEP - Students with LDThe Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the key document for every child who is eligible for special education services. The IEP clearly states what the child’s needs are and how the school will deliver the necessary special education and related services to that student. This document represents the school's commitment of resources to your child. Here are some of the top benefits of having an IEP:
  • It’s specific and tailored to the child. Each IEP is individualized to the student. By law, the IEP must include certain information about the child and the educational program designed to meet his or her unique needs. This includes his or her current performance, annual goals, special education and related services, accommodations, participation in state and district-wide tests, needed transition services, and measured progress.
  • It’s backed by the law. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the key federal education law that serves students with LD, requires that every child eligible for special education services has an IEP and that it’s developed, reviewed, and revised according to the requirements of IDEA.
  • It calls on the school and parents to work as a team and to be accountable. The IEP creates an opportunity for all members of a student’s IEP Team — teachers, parents, school administrators, and related-services personnel — to work together to improve educational results for the child. Each team member needs to know what his or her specific responsibilities are for carrying out the child's IEP. This includes the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that the child must receive, according to the IEP.
  • It is results-oriented and time-sensitive. A student’s IEP should clearly state the short-term objectives and measurable annual goals, as well as a plan for the school to report on the child’s progress at regular, pre-determined intervals. No vague or wishy-washy descriptions allowed!
  • It should be reviewed and updated at least annually. The IEP is not a static document. Rather, it is a work in progress that’s intended to grow, change, and evolve to reflect the student’s changing challenges, achievements, and needs. As a student’s academic load increases and new accommodations (such as assistive technology tools) become available, the student’s IEP should be updated accordingly. By law each student’s IEP must be reviewed annually, but parents and the school can request more frequent reviews if a child’s situation seems to warrant it.

For more information on IEPs, check out this video from NCLD public policy advisor, Laura Kaloi:


Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education, and consumer health/wellness. Her areas of expertise include learning disabilities and ADHD, topics which she has written about extensively for Schwab Learning, NCLD, and GreatSchools.