What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
The Individualized Education Program is commonly referred to as the IEP in the school system. You'll hear a lot about IEPs, whether you're a general education teacher or a special education teacher. The IEP is a customized plan for school-aged students. Again, the IEP begins the day a child turns three and goes through age 21. It actually stays in effect until the day before the 22nd birthday, so the third birthday up until the 22nd birthday is when students are legally able to have an IEP in effect in the school.
Parents are legally obligated to be a part of all the decision-making procedures with an IEP and should be notified of all assessments taking place. The IEP requires parents to be notified of all steps along the way.
The IEP has certain guidelines that they do need to follow under the IDEA. It is important to keep parents in the loop. Quarterly updates are important, so parents know what this child is working on at school. Annual meetings are required. Schools will receive additional funding for a child with an IEP so that they can help get some of the therapists in the school, get extra visual supports, or assistive technology.
The IEP team, including the special education and general education teachers, are accountable for making progress and enhancing student goals. It is important that all educators in the building, whether it's the gym teacher or the special education teacher working with the child, are made aware of the IEP goals and are all working towards those benchmarks.
This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, IEP and IFSP 101: Everything You Need to Know - Planning to Implementation, by Laura Ritter, BA, MA.