Video Summary: What is an IEP?

This video offers a simplified explanation of what is an IEP. For more in-depth information on the rules and regulations of an IEP, please visit the section on Rules and Regulations.

What is an IEP?

The first point usually discussed at an IEP meeting is a statement of the performance of a child who has been granted access to special education services. During an IEP meeting, you (the parent) might hear the term “present levels of performance,” and all this asks is “how is your child doing right now, educationally?” As the parent or guardian of the child, you’ll be asked to provide your perspective on how the child is doing in school and at home, both socially and academically. Other members of the IEP team, like the child’s teacher, psychologist, care providers, and the interpretor of the  Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team evalaution (MDT) will also give their input to determine your child’s current performance.

Next at the meeting, you will discuss the annual goals of the IEP – that is, the goals that the child should accomplish within the next year. These goals should be provided to you before the meeting (make sure to review them before the meeting), but they can change as the IEP team gives their input on your child.

The IEP will also involve measuring your child’s progress through regular reports. These reports can come as written reports from teachers, in the form of benchmarks that your child must meet, or through regular grade reports from the school. These reports should measure how your child is doing throughout the year, so that you and the rest of the IEP team can see if your child is meeting the IEP’s annual goals, and, should your child begin to fall behind or move too far ahead, adjust the IEP accordingly.

A statement of what special education services and tools (i.e., therapy, technology), classroom adjustments, and support will be provided to your child should be included in the IEP and discussed in the meeting. If your child is at any time not in the regular classroom as part of their education, the IEP should explain why (this is called “least restrictive environment,” which protects your child from being completely separated from other students at their school). Your child should be taught in their regular classroom as much as possible.

Testing and other accommodations should then be made (does your child need the instructions of a test read to them? Will they need a laptop or additional time to take a certain test?). Finally, the meeting should discuss the details of the IEP itself: when services will begin, how often services will be provided and for how long. By this point in the meeting, you should a good idea of what the IEP has planned for your child.

Once you have a good grasp on what an IEP is, helping your child along in the process will be much easier.