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What Is an Individualized Education Plan?

 

The federal government requires that all students who qualify under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have a written plan for success that teachers, parents, and other service providers follow. That plan, called an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, defines the student’s unique learning objectives, and it explains any special services the child might need to succeed in school.

Not all students who have an IEP fall under IDEA, however. In many cases, IEPs are created for student who have special academic or medical needs, but who don’t have a disability. A child with a medical condition or who isn’t performing at grade level might have an IEP, just a child would who has a disability.

What’s the Purpose of an IEP?

An IEP is designed to help children with disabilities and other special needs to attain their unique educational goals. The IEP’s purpose is to support student achievement and well-being. The IEP doesn’t just exist for the student’s benefit, though. The IEP also exists to help teachers and service providers to understand and adapt to the student’s disability or special needs.

Parents play an important role in developing their child’s IEPs. They’re involved in creating the IEP, and they give final signoff on the IEP. According to the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri, parents should remain active in their child’s IEP from creation through implementation:

“The principal is ultimately responsible to ensure that the IEP is being implemented. Parent are encouraged to work with teachers to ensure that children’s needs are being met both at home and at school.” (Source)

The Children’s Education Alliance offers a free, extremely helpful, 20-page downloadable PDF called, “What Every Parent Needs to Know About Individualized Education Plans.” The document details exactly what Missouri public school parents should expect their child’s IEP to contain, suggestions on how to be prepared and involved in the IEP process, and more.

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