Individualized Educational Plan Development

Updated 2/7/14

TThis section of the Procedures Guide presents an overview of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. It can be used as a refresher for current special education staff, an introduction for general education staff, or a handbook for parents. For greater detail on some topics, other sections of the Procedures Guide will be referenced.

It's all about F.A.P.E.
Federal legislation, beginning in 1975, has provided a statutory entitlement to a "free, appropriate public education" (FAPE) for all children with eligible disabling conditions.
A definition of FAPE has evolved through legislation and litigation to mean a coordinated set of services

  • individualized to address the student's unique needs.
  • designed to provide educational benefit.
  • provided in the least restrictive environment.
  • developed with consideration of the parent/guardians' concerns.

Assessing the student's unique needs
Before any offer of placement and services can be made, the IEP team must have a valid measure of the student's skills. This is achieved through a comprehensive assessment in all areas of suspected disability. The assessment team will look at information from a variety of sources and plan an assessment that will yield the information required to answer basic questions about the student's levels of performance. The assessment team will present an "Assessment Plan" for parent authorization. This plan will list the areas to be evaluated, and the types of assessments to be used. If the parent agrees to the assessment, the assessment team has 60 calendar days to complete the assessment and hold an IEP meeting. At the IEP meeting, the assessment information will be presented, and a written copy given to the parent. The assessment report will document areas of instructional need. If this is an initial assessment, the report will also document whether the student meets the definition of an individual with a disability.

Developing a program that provides educational benefit

Using the assessment data provided, the IEP team develops goals and, in some cases, incremental objectives in the areas of instructional need. Each area of identified need should have a goal that is designed to address that need. Goals must be derived from core curriculum standards at the student's grade level or functional skill level. They should be designed to be attainable in one year. Service providers are encouraged to bring drafts of recommended goals for discussion at the meeting to save time. There should not be any draft goals that are not supported by assessment data. The draft goals must be measurable, and the service provider should be prepared to discuss in detail how progress on the goals will be documented. Any concerns that the parents have with the proposed goals should be addressed.

Program to be provided in the least restrictive environment
Once the team has achieved consensus on the goals, they will begin determining where those goals can be implemented. Our first choice is always to provide services to address the goals within the general education program with appropriate supplementary supports and services, if necessary. Assignment to special education classes or schools occurs only when it is determined that the student cannot benefit from the general education program. The IEP team's job is to determine which combination of services provides the required benefits with the least restriction in environment. Federal law requires that the placement be as close as possible to the child's home, and that the child is educated in the school he or she would attend if not disabled, unless the team determines that the child requires other arrangements. The least restrictive environment needs to be considered in the continuum of placement options at each IEP meeting.

Consideration of parent concerns
At each step in the IEP process, parent concerns need to be addressed. The chairperson of the IEP team needs to check for understanding and concurrence from the family, rather than wait for the end of the meeting and simply ask for the parent's signature. The better the parents understand the IEP, the more supportive they can be of the instructional process.

Required Components of the IEP Document

  • A statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including
    • How the child's disability affects the child's involvement and progress in the general education curriculum, or,
    • For preschool children, as appropriate, how the disability affects the child's participation in appropriate activities.
  • A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to
    • Meet the child's needs that result from the child's disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and
    • Meet the child's other educational needs that result from the child's disability.
      " For children with disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards, a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives are required.
  • A description of
    • How the child's progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured; and
    • When periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals will be provided.
  • A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child. Also required is a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child
    • To advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals.
    • To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum, and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and
    • To be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and nondisabled children.
  • An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in the activities described in this section.
  • A statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and districtwide assessments, and
    • If the IEP Team determines that the child must take an alternate assessment instead of a particular State or districtwide assessment , a statement of why
      • The child cannot participate in the regular assessment; and
      • The particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child.
  • The projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications and the anticipated frequency, location and duration of those services and modifications.
    • Transition services: Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include:
    • Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
    • The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.
    • Transfer of rights at age of majority. Beginning not later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority under State law (18 years in California), the IEP must include a statement that the child has been informed of the child's rights that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority.
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The IEP Team Members
The LEA must ensure that the IEP Team for each child with a disability includes:

  1. The parents of the child;
  2. Not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment);
  3. Not less than one special education teacher of the child, or where appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the child;
  4. A representative of the public agency who is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities, is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum, and is knowledgeable about the resources of the LEA. The LEA may designate another member of the IEP team (Special Education teacher or Specialist) to fill this role, if the above qualifications are met;
  5. An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results;
  6. Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child;
  7. Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.
  8. For transition age students, a representative of a public agency that provides services for adults may be invited if the district has obtained parent or student permission to do so.

With prior written permission from the parent, a member of the IEP team may be excused from the IEP meeting if their area of expertise is not going to be on the agenda and they have submitted, in writing, to the parent and the other members of the IEP, input into the development of the child's IEP.

The General Education Teacher's Role at the IEP
The child's general education teacher provides valuable information to the IEP team in designing a program that will address the child's unique needs. At the meeting the general education teacher could be expected to:

  • Provide information about the general education curriculum
  • Identify the student's need for supplemental aids and support
  • Describe necessary program modifications
  • Request training and support to improve skills in working with this student
  • Consider the need for positive behavior supports
  • Describe the expectations for class and homework
  • Describe the grading system as it applies to the student
  • Describe accommodations and modifications required for any standardized testing required by the California Department of Education Describe how progress is monitored in the general education classroom

The IEP Meeting Agenda
Using the following IEP Agenda will assure that no key components are overlooked.
1. Welcome and Introductions- Introduce all IEP Team members and describe their role in relation to the student
2. Procedural Safeguards- Ask the parent/guardian if they would like to receive a copy of their procedural safeguards. Explain any of the procedures they wish to have clarified
3. Purpose of the Meeting- Describe the purpose of the meeting: Initial, Annual, 3-Year Review, Transition
4. Parent Concerns/Questions Ask the parent/guardian for their agenda items
5. Review Transition Plan (if applicable)
6. Present Levels of Performance

  • Review progress on prior goals (not in initial IEP meeting) assessment data from staff
  • Review and discuss any independent assessments provided by parents
  • Determine whether the student is/continues to be a child with a disability
  • Establish present levels of performance

7.Determine how student's disability affects progress in general education curriculum
8. Goals: Develop measurable annual goals based upon content standards and present levels of performance from assessment data
9. Special Factors: The IEP team must consider five special factors in the development, review, and revision of each child's IEP

  • Behavior
  • Limited English proficiency
  • Blindness or visual impairment
  • Communication needs/Deafness
  • Assistive technology

10. Services

  • Determine what related services are required to address the measurable goals.
  • Determine the setting and location for services designed to address the student's unique needs.
  • Determine whether the student requires specialized transportation.
  • Discuss whether the student requires extended school year. If the student does require ESY, describe on the comments page of the IEP any differences between the regular school year program and the extended school year program.

11. Accommodations/Modifications

  • Determine what classroom adaptations are required for the student to access the curriculum
  • Discuss supports/consultation that staff require
  • Discuss whether, and how, the student's grading will be modified

12. Statewide Assessments- Determine which of the classroom adaptations will also be required for the student's participation in the California Department of Education State Testing and Reporting system, and which tests the student will participate in.

13. Educational Setting

  • Determine the percent of time the student will spend in non integrated settings, and the rationale for removal from the general education setting
  • Describe how the student will meet the state requirement for physical education
  • Discuss whether district Promotion/Retention Standards apply to this student
  • Describe how the student's progress on the IEP goals will be reported to parents

14. Request parent signature and confirmation that they consent to the IEP
15. Distribute copies of the IEP and assessment reports to parents and service providers

20 USC §1414(d)(1)(B)(i)
34 CFR §300.321
34 CFR §300.322
34 CFR §300.323


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