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Five Misconceptions About IEPs

Misconceptions about IEPs
  1. 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:

    • there is a change in classroom teacher(s) at a semester break or a new teacher is hired,

    • a new school year begins, or

    • anytime you think your child’s instructional supports, services and/or accommodations are off track.


  2. If it’s in the IEP, the school will make it happen.

    Because an IEP is a legal contract, the school technically is required to provide the services and supports outlined in an IEP. Unfortunately, there‘s always a chance that something will get overlooked or forgotten, thus affecting your child’s progress. Monitor your child’s schoolwork, performance on tests and attitude toward school. Ask your child if the teachers are meeting with him or her on the agreed-upon days and if he or she is being provided with the services (such as speech/language therapy or reading help) and accommodations (such as use of a computer or extra time on tests) outlined in the IEP. If need be, certain teachers may be willing to build email communication into their routine with you or your child, so that you can stay in touch.

  3. Every child who struggles has an IEP.

    Some children may struggle in school with reading, writing and/or math and never be formally diagnosed as having a disability or qualify under special education law for an IEP. Also, some children with diagnosed disabilities may not qualify for an IEP and may be eligible for a 504 plan.

    For more info, see our “What Is a 504 Plan?” video. Also, don’t miss our video on what parents can do if a child is not eligible for an IEP, featuring Chief Officer of Instructional Learning Supports for Chicago Public Schools, Markay Winston.

  4. The IEP continues beyond high school.

    The IEP ends at the conclusion of high school or, if the child is going to continue to receive special education services or supports, when a student turns 22 (in most states). IDEA services do not extend into a two- or four-year college or the workplace. LD.org offers a checklist for parents to better understand how to plan for the transition out of high school.

  5. A child with a learning disability must have an IEP to successfully finish school.

    Because federal law allows states and school districts to have flexibility in how they find students eligible for special education and how they choose to serve those students, advocates for students with LD will tell you that your child’s IEP is only as good as the team implementing it. While there are schools doing a wonderful job in serving all students, including those with IEPs, there are also schools that struggle with this. Therefore, the IEP isn’t always the answer to success.

    For more on IEPs, check out our “What Is an IEP?” video featuring NCLD NCLD Public Policy Advisor Laura Kaloi.