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Tuesday's Tip: Write the IEP RIGHT the First Time

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the child's individualized plan to attain functional goals. You must make sure the IEP addresses the needs of your child. When the IEP doesn't address the individual needs, there will be no focus on them. Most parents aren't taught how to do the IEP right the first time around. My goal is to start with a clear understanding of what the IEP is, its function and purpose.


  • An IEP is a written statement for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in IEP meetings.

  • As authorized under the IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  • It also addresses ADA and Section 504 federal laws and state regulations

  • It is a legal document and contractual arrangement between your child's school and your family.

  • If it is not written down, it will not happen and sometimes it still might not happen when it is written down but that's another blog.

  • If it is not documented in the IEP, it does not need to be provided.

  • It is developed based on information from a comprehensive evaluation that defines the:

    • your child’s baselines on skills (normed - nationally compared to peers), criterion-based (a checklist of skills), and observational information,

    • areas of educational need,

    • your child's eligibility

    • Your child's classification under special education

    • a description of how your child’s disability affects their ability to learn and be included in general education classrooms.


You have to have an understanding of the true purpose of the IEP, or your outcomes will be affected. The purpose of the IEP is to be the guide for your contractual agreement with the school.

  • It serves as a blueprint for your child’s special education and related services that must be followed.

  • It is your contractual agreement of services and supports that you and the school team have agreed upon.

  • It is the agreement the public school will effectively implement to close the educational gap that exists based on evaluations that address your child's educational deficits.

  • It covers and documents the scope of activities, accommodations, modifications, supports, and settings involved in educating your child.

  • It guides the delivery of special education and related services and supplementary aids and supports for your child with a disability.

  • It establishes measurable annual goals for academic and functional outcomes across environments (inside and outside of school).

  • It defines the special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services that the public school will provide to your child so that they can access their education and make meaningful progress commensurate with their abilities.

  • It addresses the involvement and participation of child to the general curriculum, extracurricular activities, and non-academic activities as well as in expanded core curricula.

  • It ensures expert instruction and services that your needs to succeed in school and beyond.


An IEP meeting takes as long as it needs to develop a plan to meet the needs of your child. Remember:

  • Do not be pressured into artificial time constraints – you have the right to call for a continuation meeting.

  • The IEP is not complete until the information about services that will be provided is complete and correct

  • Request a longer time when you respond to the invitation if you believe you will need it.

  • You must feel that you had meaningful participation

  • If the school team is just looking for your signature, then that is predetermination.

  • If your work prevents you from attending write a letter and find a time you can attend.

  • Ask for a continuation and note in your follow-up letter or The Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP), or Prior Written Notice (PWN) in some states that not all the parts of the IEP were reviewed.


As the child's parents you are the best advocates for your child. You have more knowledge than you realize.

  • Your child’s educational program as well as their academic and functional outcomes are often dependent upon your input.

  • You are your child’s best advocate.

  • Your opinions are an important part of this discussion.

  • You are also an EQUAL member of the IEP team.

  • You should participate no less in your child’s education than you do in their medical care.

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