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Top 10 Things to Know About IEPs

Top 10 IEP FactsIf 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.

As a parent, you play a key role at all points in the IEP process, and your knowledge and advocacy can make a big difference in ensuring your child’s success. As you browse NCLD’s IEP Headquarters and learn more about IEPs, here are ten points to be sure you take away:

  1. Getting an IEP is one step in the special education process.

    In order to get an IEP, a child must be evaluated and found eligible for special education services. An IEP does not automatically follow a LD diagnosis, and not all students with LD will be eligible for an IEP. (If your child is not eligible for an IEP, a 504 plan may be available for in-school support.)

  2. The IEP should contain individualized information about your child and lay out the educational program designed to meet his or her needs.

    By law, the IEP must include certain information about the child and the services and supports the school will provide. This information covers topics such as current performance, annual goals, special education and related services, accommodations, participation in state and district-wide tests, needed transition services and measured progress. Remember that there is no “standard IEP”—every student has different needs and should receive a different plan. You can use NCLD’s IEP Checklist to make sure your child’s IEP includes all necessary components.

  3. IEPs are 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 sets requirements for the development, review and revision of the plan. IDEA grants specific rights to parents and students that you should become familiar with.

  4. Parents play a crucial role at all points in the IEP process.

    As a parent, you are an important member of your child’s IEP team. You have the right to participate in all IEP meetings and have input in all educational decisions made for your child. You also have the right to bring anyone with you to the IEP meeting that you may find helpful in the discussion. From the initial evaluation to when your child graduates, your active participation will help ensure your child’s IEP is crafted and implemented in a way that will lead to his or her success. Make sure you fully read and understand your child’s IEP.

  5. IEPs should be results-oriented and time-sensitive.

    Your child’s IEP should state measurable annual goals. Reports should include objective measures—like results gathered by curriculum-based measurement and standardized tests. (Teacher-given grades and reports are important to consider, but should not be the only measure of progress.) If you’re concerned that your child is not making progress, don’t hesitate to reach out.


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