A Checklist of Key Points about IEPs

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The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a very important document because it identifies the services that your child will receive during the school year in which the IEP is in effect. The following are essential points to keep in mind about the IEP process and the IEP itself.

  • The document is written at the IEP meeting, but members of the IEP team may come to the meeting with written notes and ideas about your child.

  • The IEP is written specifically for your child and describes the services she will receive for one year (or less).

  • A new IEP must be written at least every 12 months.

  • You and the school system have the right to invite anyone to the IEP meeting that you believe can provide information about your child that will help the team develop the IEP. For example, the school system might invite a social worker who has worked with your child and your family in the past. You might want to invite the person who takes care of your child after school and has important information to add to the IEP discussions.

  • People invited to any IEP meeting should know your child well and have something significant to add to the content of the IEP.

  • A collaborative and cooperative approach with members of your child's educational team is generally the most effective way to ensure that your child gets the services she needs.

  • If you're having difficulty with your school system over issues related to services for your child, it might be helpful to seek mediation before the IEP meeting so that some agreement and resolution can be reached and the meeting itself can be productive.

  • When you sign an IEP, it doesn't mean that you either agree or disagree with what is written on the form. Your signature only means that you were present at the meeting. In fact, signatures are not required on an IEP.

  • It is required that names of the people who participated in the meeting be included on the IEP form.

  • If you don't agree with the IEP, you may indicate that on the form.

  • The most important components of the IEP are:

    • The current statements of performance levels.
    • Measurable annual goals with benchmarks or short-term objectives.
    • The way in which your child's progress toward the goals will be measured.
  • These components are all related and form the basis for the other components of the IEP.

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