Tip: Independent Education Plans (IEP)

Grandparents can be very helpful when accompanying their families to school Independent Education Planning sessions.  In addition to increasing family support, they can play an important role by just taking notes during the meeting so that every issue discussed is recorded. Proposals from the school district should be documented and restated prior to parental acceptance of the plan. It is important to note that at the conclusion of the session, parents may decide not to sign the agreement for services if they are not satisfied with the proposal from the school. They also may request another session that includes experts to advocate for additional needed services.

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.

To create an effective IEP, parents, teachers, other school staff–and often the student–must come together to look closely at the student’s unique needs. These individuals pool knowledge, experience and commitment to design an educational program that will help the student be involved in, and progress in, the general curriculum. The IEP guides the delivery of special education supports and services for the student with a disability. Without a doubt, writing–and implementing–an effective IEP requires teamwork.

This guide explains the IEP process, which we consider to be one of the most critical elements to ensure effective teaching, learning, and better results for all children with disabilities. The guide is designed to help teachers, parents and anyone involved in the education of a child with a disability-develop and carry out an IEP. The information in this guide is based on what is required by our nation’s special education law–the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.

The IDEA requires certain information to be included in each child’s IEP. It is useful to know, however, that states and local school systems often include additional information in IEPs in order to document that they have met certain aspects of federal or state law. The flexibility that states and school systems have to design their own IEP forms is one reason why IEP forms may look different from school system to school system or state to state. Yet each IEP is critical in the education of a child with a disability.