IEP Components

A NASET series that looks at each component of the IEP in depth

Before diving into the specifics of what must be included in an IEP, it's important to consider the "Big Picture" of the IEP—its purposes, how it serves as a blueprint for the child's special education and related services under IDEA, and the scope of activities and settings it covers.

The IEP has two general purposes:

(1) to establish measurable annual goals for the child; and

(2) to state the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services that the public agency will provide to, or on behalf of, the child. When constructing an appropriate educational program for a child with a disability, the IEP team broadly considers the child's involvement and participation in three main areas of school life:

  • the general education curriculum
  • extracurricular activities
  • nonacademic activities

By general education curriculum, we mean the subject matter provided to children without disabilities and the associated skills they are expected to develop and apply. Examples include math, science, history, and language arts.

When we talk about extracurricular activities and nonacademic activities, we're referring to school activities that fall outside the realm of the general curriculum. These are usually voluntary and tend to be more social than academic. They typically involve others of the same age and may be organized and guided by teachers or other school personnel. Examples: yearbook, school newspaper, school sports, school clubs, lunch, recess, band, pep rallies, assemblies, field trips, after-school programs, recreational clubs.

The IEP can be understood as the blueprint, or plan, for the special education experience of a child with a disability across these school environments.

Most special educators have an awareness of what is basically required in a child's IEP. However, the more you understand about each individual part, and especially how they go together to form an action plan for a child's education, the easier it will be to write a well-grounded and effective IEP. Using information from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, this 11 part series will focus on each specific component of the IEP.


Latest and Upcoming Issues

Part 1: Present Levels

How is the child currently doing in school? How does the disability affect his or her performance in class? This type of information is captured in the "present levels" statement in the IEP.

Part 2: Annual Goals

Once a child's needs are identified, the IEP team works to develop appropriate goals to address those needs. Annual goal describe what the child is expected to do or learn within a 12-month period.

Benchmarks or Short-Term Objectives
Benchmarks or short-term objectives are required only for children with disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards. If you're wondering what that means, this article will tell you!

Part 3: Measuring and Reporting Progress

Each child's IEP must also contain a description of how his or her progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured and when it will be reported to parents. Learn more about how to write this statement in this short article.

Part 4: Special Education

The IEP must contain a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child. This article focuses on the first element: a statement of the special education that will be provided for the child.

Part 5: Related Services

To help a child with a disability benefit from special education, he or she may also need extra help in one area or another, such as speaking or moving. This additional help is called related services. Find out all about these critical services here.

Part 6: Supplementary Aids and Services

Supplementary aids and services are intended to improve children's access to learning and their participation across the spectrum of academic, extracurricular, and nonacademic activities and settings. The IEP team must determine what supplementary aids and services a child will need and specify them in the IEP.

Part 7: Extent of Nonparticipation

The IEP must also include an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in other school settings and activities. Read how this connects to IDEA's foundational principle of LRE.

Part 8: Accommodations in Assessment

IDEA requires that students with disabilities take part in state or districtwide assessments. The IEP team must decide if the student needs accommodations in testing or another type of assessment entirely. In this component of the IEP, the team documents how the student will participate.

Part 9: Service Delivery

When will the child begin to receive services? Where? How often? How long will a "session" last? Pesky details, but important to include in the IEP!

Part 10: When the IEP Teams Meets

After a child is found eligible for special education and related services, a meeting must be held within 30 days to develop to the IEP. The school system must notify the child’s parents of when and where the meeting will take place, so they have the opportunity to attend and participate.

Part 11: Scheduling the IEP Meeting and Notifying Parents

After a child is found eligible for special education and related services, a meeting must be held within 30 days to develop to the IEP. The school system must notify the child’s parents of when and where the meeting will take place, so they have the opportunity to attend and participate.

Part 12: An Overview of Assistive Technology and the IEP: A Resource for Parents of Children with Special Needs in Your Classroom

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs. The law requires that public schools develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each child. The IEP is a written plan for educating a child with a disability. The IEP describes the student’s specific special education needs as well as any related services, including assistive technology.

Part 13: Employment Connections

The focus of this issue of NASET's IEP Component series was written by the National Dissemination Center for Students with Disabilities (NICHCY). The article will connect you with resources in the employment world. Exploring what these organizations and centers have to offer can be extremely helpful when involved in planning a student’s future in this area.

Part 14: Excusing a Member from an IEP Meeting

Certain members of the IEP team may be excused from an IEP meeting under specific conditions. These conditions will vary depending on whether or the team member’s area of expertise is going to be discussed or modified in the meeting. This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series will address the issue of excusal of IEP team members from IEP meetings.

Part 15: Adult Services: What Are They? Where Are They?

Many different individuals come together to help the student plan for transition. Typically, transition planning is handled by members of the IEP team, with other individuals becoming involved as needed. It’s important to involve a variety of people, for they will bring their unique perspectives to the planning table. The team draws upon the expertise of the different members and pools their information to make decisions or recommendations for the student. In addition to the regular players at the IEP table (parents, student, special education and general education teachers, related service providers, administrators, others), when transition is going to be discussed, representatives of outside agencies may be invited, especially those who are well informed about resources and adult services in the community. This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series presents a list of four different agencies to consider, plus the ever-useful “Other” category. Each is discussed in some detail throughout this article.

Part 16: Checklist of Questions to Ask for IEP Teams as They Plan a Student's Transition

NSTTAC is the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, an OSEP-funded project whose expertise is secondary transition.  As part of its work, NSTTAC has developed extensive training materials to help states collect data about the transition services they provide to youth with disabilities. Those materials are also useful for our purpose here, which is to look closely at the type of transition information to include in a student’s IEP.  NSTTAC’s materials include a checklist of questions to ask, which are adapted here for use by IEP teams as they plan a student’s transition services and craft statements to include in the student’s IEP.  This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series will present a checklist of questions to ask for IEP Teams as they plan a student’s transition.  NASET would like to thank the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center for their permission to use its materials for this publication.

Part 17: Taking a Closer Look into the Individual Education Program (IEP) Meeting Process

This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series was written by Dr. John Nikolaros.  The paper specifies critical measures required by the Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for students with special needs.  The author explains and offers successful strategies in special education.  The specific benchmarks that are examined consist of the process leading up the Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting, the impact of the special education chair, and the least restrictive environment (LRE).  The purpose of this paper is to inform the audience of practices in special education that lead to consistency and successful implementation.

IEP Goals, Objective and Activities

NASET has created a simple, and easy to use application for the iPad and iPhone. The IEP Goals, Objectives & Activities App provides a convenient tool to easily choose and build a student's list of IEP Annual Goals, Short Term Objectives, and Behavioral Objectives.

In order to do this, you will be able to choose from:

  • Numerous Annual Goal areas;
  • Over 100 Short Term Objectives
  • Almost 5,000 Behavioral Objectives

Plus, this app allows you to:

  • Plan each student's educational curriculum
  • Develop, from a list of over 2,700 Suggested Activities, enrichment experiences to enhance student development
  • Export the assembled annual goals, short term objectives and behavioral objectives for each student via email

Price $9.99

To Purchase and Download this unique app, click on the Apple image above or copy and paste this link:

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