Public schools are required to create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for every child receiving special education services from age three through high school graduation or until age 22. The IEP addresses each child’s unique learning issues and includes specific educational goals. Creating this plan is a team process, and you, as parent, are a crucial member of that team. The IEP is legally binding, and the school must provide everything in the IEP.
Since this is such an important process and can often be confusing to parents, following is a list of the different parts of an IEP. Each part is important and has a specific purpose.
The following parts of the IEP are required:
- Present Level of Performance – Strengths and weaknesses should be identified addressing the core deficit areas related to autism – communication, social interactions and restricted interests. It should include a full description of your child, including a statement of how the disability impacts his/her ability to participate in general education. Each IEP goal and objective should have statements summarizing your child’s progress. Academic goals should include data related to the Minnesota Standards for their grade level. It is critical that you have this information on present levels on the current IEP before embarking on the new annual IEP.
- Need Area – This area refers to specific skills and outcomes. It should flow directly from the Present Level of Performance. It should identify the skills that need improvement. This area will not include specific services, interventions, or teaching methodologies or strategies.
- Goals and Objectives – Each need must have a goal, and each goal should have at least two objectives. The goal should be measurable and observable and attainable by the next annual IEP. The objectives should also be observable and measurable with specific criteria for mastering them. The objectives should be part of a logical skill sequence with the next skill building on the previous skill. Standard-based IEP objectives are based on benchmarks under the Minnesota Standard which addresses the goal.
- Accommodations, Modifications, and Supports – Adaptations and modifications to the general education curriculum should address the underlying characteristics of autism. Any supports your child needs to help him/her learn in the classroom should be spelled out here.
- Any communication support that your child needs should be described.
- Assistive Technology should have been evaluated and addressed.
- The Discipline Policy, if modified, needs to be described. Exempt should NOT be used.
- A Positive Behavior Intervention Plan should be described. If your child does not have one, work with your team to create one.
- If your child needs curb to curb transportation, a description of need should be here.
- If your child needs additional adult support – a Special Education Assistant (SEA) – a description of how the SEA will support your child should be included.
- Grading also needs to be addressed.
- Testing – If your child is unable to take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), a rationale for why he/she needs to take the Minnesota Testing of Academic Skills (MTAS) in place of the MCAs is required.
- Services and Service Minutes – Service Minutes need to be aligned to the Goals and Objectives, including any related services such as Speech Therapy. Every IEP goal should have corresponding service minutes. The number of minutes in special education services should correspond to your child’s federal setting (FS). FS I=less than 21% in special education setting/locations, FS 2= between 21- 60% in special education settings/location, FS 3 = more than 60% in special education settings/location, and FS 4= full day in special educational setting with zero opportunities with general education students.
- Least Restrictive Environment – The Least Restrictive Environment statement should describe your child’s educational placement, including a description of general education participation and special education. There should be a rationale if your child is not participating in general education.
- Extended School Year – The team determines whether or not your child qualifies for extended school year services. Any decisio needs to be supported by objective data that shows regression of specific goals and objectives after breaks in the school year.
- Progress Reports – One or two progress reports are provided each school year. The reports should include specific data related to goals/objectives to justify the goal status statement.
The school can’t provide special education services until you give your permission in writing. Make sure you check every section before signing it. If you have questions or specific items you disagree with sign the “do not agree” part and ask for another meeting to discuss your concerns. You have the legal right to call an IEP team meeting at any time.