Educational Support

The Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

After agreement is reached regarding the evaluation, the Multidisciplinary Team drafts an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the student.  The IEP describes the services and supports the student will receive in school. It must be based on the student’s individual needs and contain measurable goals that help the student reach  “adequate yearly progress” (AYP), as defined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The IEP is written by a team that must include the student’s parent or guardian, a general education teacher, a special education teacher, and a school official who knows the special education system and has the ability to allocate funds. The team may also include anyone the parent determines to have “specialized knowledge or expertise” about the child.

The law requires that the IEP be written at a meeting of the team, not by school officials alone.  The team must meet at least once a year to revise the IEP, but may meet more frequently as needed.  Parents may request an IEP meeting any time they have concerns and may ask for changes.  If the LEA refuses to make changes, the parent has a right to dispute resolution.

Your child is entitled to a special education program that helps him or her make meaningful progress in school.  For example, if your child has trouble reading, the IEP must describe how teachers and others will help your child learn to read, including the types of teaching methods that will be used.  If your child has emotional or behavioral difficulties, the IEP must describe how school officials will work with your child using a behavior plan written by the team. 

Parents have the right to disagree with a current or new IEP -- for example, if you think your child is not making progress or that additional services are needed. If you and school officials cannot agree on the IEP your child needs, you have a right to use “dispute resolution” options offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR).

For more information about these options, see Disability and the Law in the Family Support Section of this Guide.

At the conclusion of the IEP meeting, the school drafts a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notice form  (NOREP/PWN).  This is the form that enables you to formally agree or disagree with the proposed IEP, including the location where the services will be delivered.  Each time there is a change in the location of a student’s education program, the district must issue a NOREP. Each time a school district denies a parent’s request for additional services, the district must issue a NOREP.

Each student’s IEP must contain the following:

  1. Current Academic and Functional Education Levels

  2. A list of “special considerations” applicable to the child – for example, whether or not the student is visually impaired, has communication needs, needs assistive technology devices and/or services, has limited English proficiency, has behaviors that impede learning.

  3. Measurable Annual Goals

  4. Specially Designed Instruction

  5. Location, Duration and Frequency of Related Services

  6. Date Services Begin and End

  7. How to Determine if your Child is Making Progress

  8. Programs and Activities with General Education Students

  9. Modifications Needed to Participate in General Education Classes

  10. Type of Special Education Support Program, such as “learning“, “emotional“, “life skills“, “sensory“, “autism“, “vision“, “deaf/hard of hearing“, and “otherwise health impaired.”

  11. Amount of Special Education

  12. Type of Placement

  13. Signatures of the IEP Team Members. Signatures verify attendance at the meeting, not consent to the IEP document.

  14. Transition-to-Adulthood and Graduation Planning

  15. Extended School Year (ESY). If your child loses skills or is at risk for losing skills during school breaks, instruction or other support may be necessary when school is not in session.

  16. Adaptive Physical Education: Are accommodations needed?

  17. Health Concerns: Does your child have any medical or health problems that require special attention?