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.
PAST ISSUE OF IEP COMPONENTS SERIES
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This issue of NASET’sIEP Component Series was written by Catherine C. George, Ph.D. and Sharon A. Lynch, Ph.D. The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act included substantial changes related to Individual Education Programs. These changes require school personnel to provide students with disabilities greater access to the general curriculum. Multidisciplinary teams must implement these changes when developing and measuring a student’s IEP. This article highlights some of these changes and offers practical recommendations to assist educators in the IEP development process. Specifically, the present article provides a working guidance document for developing a quality statement of a student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance that leads to individualized benchmarks and goals. Additionally, the authors provide several recommendations regarding methods which can be used to measure student progress on a variety of benchmarks and goals.
This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series was written by Olga M. Torguet from Florida International University. Her article focuses on the barriers to full participation in the IEP Process. To advocate for their children and make informed educational decisions, parents must be able to understand the information presented at Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 legally mandated that students 14 and older be invited to participate in IEP meetings. As a means to better understand parents’ and students’ passive participation during these meetings, I analyzed current literature related to barriers that inhibit their full participation in the IEP process. Two studies were identified related to the readability of Procedural Safeguard documents provided by states department of education. Eight published articles were dissected to identify the reasons for the inactive involvement of parents and students. Overall arguments that emerged repeatedly across all articles concerned the inability to advocate due to the high readability level of parents’ rights documents, jargon utilized in meetings, and lack of understanding of system procedures and policies.
Part 20: A Proposed S.M.A.R.T. Framework for Designing Individualized Education Plan ( IEP) for Young Children with Disabilities
This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series was written by Arnold Chee Keong, CHUA, MEd/BCSE. Young children with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, global developmental delay, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome is on the rise in Singapore. Children diagnosed with such disabilities at the age of three years or below will undergo an early intervention program to prevent or minimize developmental delays. Teachers in the early intervention sector require to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child's individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP. Educators working with children of various disabilities need to consider several factors in the formulation of an appropriate IEP. Using the proposed S.M.A.R.T. framework, this paper discusses five key elements of designing an IEP (S: Specificity, M: Meaningful, A: Appropriateness, R: Routine-based, and T: Transferability) which educators can adopt so as to improve the quality of written IEP goals and objectives. It is hope with this framework, the child’s learning can promote engagement, social interaction, and finally independence.
Adolescence is a time for dreaming—for youth to imagine and set a course for the future. High school students naturally spend time imagining the future—if and where to continue their education, to find a job or pursue a career, to move away from home, or to start a family. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes a process to help youth with disabilities turn their dreams into reality. This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series comes from a Parent Brief from the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition and was written by Ceci Shapland, Co-Director of theHealthy & Ready to Work National Center. It provides information on the benefits of and strategies for including health in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process.
This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series was written by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability and discusses career planning and vocational assessment for transition-age youth. Many youth with disabilities have not had the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers in terms of exposure to career preparation options. In the past, the career planning process for youth with disabilities often did not reflect the values of choice and self-determination. Many youth with disabilities were relegated to passive roles in their own career planning process. As a result, many youth have not had the opportunity to pursue career options that they found motivating and satisfying.
This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series was written by Jay Gottlieb, Ph.D., Mark Alter, Ph.D., and Marc A. Gottlieb, Esq. Why, forty years after passage of the original Education for All Handicapped Act of 1975 (the predecessor legislation to IDEA), is there is still no agreed-upon operational heuristic for defining the least restrictive environment? As with so many aspects of public education, the answer is complex. Schools are ultimately responsible for identifying the LRE, but they are buffeted by many external and internal influences that affect the quality and quantity of education IEP students receive. Even in the absence of internal or external influences, substantial variability in LRE implementation is to be anticipated; in fact, it is desirable. The underlying rationale of the federal special education law is that each student is unique and requires a tailored program. The potential wealth of services and placements recommended on an IEP define an appropriate education, and they should be different for each person.
Part 24: Equal Opportunity and Accountability: The Free Appropriate Education Act (FAPE) FAPE and Individualized Education Program (IEP)
This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series was written by Dr. Heidi D’Ambrosio and Ms. Lora Reese. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) coupled with the Free Appropriate Education Act (FAPE) mandates the honoring of student rights to have complete access to curriculum and communication with zero rejection. Despite the legal demands of these two great Acts, some children are still being left behind. The purpose of this article is to bring attention to just one of many cases where the rights of a student with autism, a prevalent diagnosis, was denied his due entitlement to reach full academic and social potential. The United States Supreme Court has adjudicated cases as recently as Spring 2017. A case law review was conducted to offer insight into the world of school litigation and legislation as it relates to achievement, accountability, parental involvement, and special and remedial education reform policies and practices.
In this issue of NASET’s IEP Component series, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) lists five special factors that the IEP team must consider in the development, review, and revision of each child’s IEP. Read IDEA’s exact words. The importance of these special factors in the education of children with disabilities and the need for individualized consideration of these factors in IEP development and revision cannot be underestimated. The special factors are: (1) Behavior; (2) Limited English proficiency; (3) Blindness or visual impairment; (4) Communication needs/Deafness; and (5) Assistive technology. This edition of NASET’s IEP Components series will provide you updated information and resources regarding special factors in IEP development.
In this issue of NASET’s IEP Component series, Operating on the premise that the student with a disability—who is the focus of all this discussion and planning— may have something vital to contribute to planning his or her educational program and future, IDEA clearly provides for the child’s inclusion in, and participation on, the IEP Team whenever appropriate.
In this issue of NASET’s IEP Component series, A significant aspect of IDEIA’s requirements relates to including transition-related goals and statements in the IEPs of students preparing for life after high school. Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals. This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series comes from The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) and takes a much closer look at the kind of information that might need to be included in a student’s IEP as part of transition planning.
In this issue of NASET’s IEP Component series, Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals. This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series is designed to connect you with basic information about transition planning. We’ve included articles, guides, and online trainings designed for specific audiences, because we all process and use information from the vantage point of why we want to know and what we’re going to do with the info.
Assistive technology enables children with disabilities to participate more fully in all aspects of life (home, school, and community) and helps them access their right to a ?free appropriate, public education? in the ?least restrictive environment?. The IEP team must determine whether an individual child needs an assistive technology device or service, and if so, the nature and extent to be provided. This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series comes from the Center for Parent Information & Resources. The checklist provided is designed to help IEP teams consider the needs of students with disabilities for assistive technology. It was adapted from the Nebraska Department of Education’s Nebraska IEP Technical Assistance Guide (1998, September).
This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series was written by Rebecca Fields. The article focuses on collaborating with parents through the transitioning stages of an IEP. Transitioning from one stage of life to another can be tedious. More-so tedious when considering a student with disabilities (SWD). One can imagine the hesitation, frustration and fear that conjures from the anticipation of the unknown for both the parent and the SWD. Specifically, transitioning from high school to the next step in life can be a nerve wrecking experience for most parents to SWD. For this reason, it is plausible to assume that being a well-informed parent is critical for the success of the student in many ways. By creating a culture of open communication and providing resources for both the parent and student, it is possible to establish a sense of ease in relation to transition. The purpose of this literature review is to examine the effects that parental involvement has on SWD and their transitioning stage into post-school settings. It is a product of five articles that examine transition planning, family involvement, and parental collaborations.
Developing appropriate Individual Education Program (IEP) academic goals can be a daunting task for IEP teams when considering that many special education students perform below grade level. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, student IEPs must be aligned with grade-level standards. A recent study that focused on identifying how teachers were navigating the potentially competing demands of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Language Arts expectations and best practices for students with mild to moderate disabilities raised some potential concerns regarding IEP compliance in regards to academic goal development. This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series will present those findings and provide implications for future practice, and research.
Examining Parental Experiences During the Individual Educational Program Meeting: A Review of the Literature
This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series was written by Jessica Ramos. The Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004) mandates parents’ participation in planning the Individual Education Program (IEP). This review of the literature examines parents’ experiences during the IEP meeting and the capacity in which parents are included. Additionally, the literature analyzes the barriers and limitations parents encounter due to culturally and linguistically diversity (CLD). According to the research, CLD parents of are less likely to feel fully involved in the IEP process due to bureaucratic procedures, legal jargon and verbal and nonverbal barriers. Research suggests, empathy along with formalizing relationships are key components in delivering an effective partnership between parents and educators in creating a quality IEP for students with disabilities.
Developing IEPs that Support Inclusive Education for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities
By Ricki Sabia, Martha L. Thurlow, and Sheryl S. Lazarus Source: Sabia, R., Thurlow, M. L., & Lazarus, S. S. (2020, January). Developing IEPs that support inclusive education for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (Brief #3). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, TIES Center. This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series comes from the TIES Center. The IEP team must consider the general education classroom in the student’s home school first before considering a more restrictive placement such as a special education class. The goal for the IEP team is to determine the least restrictive environment in which the student can be educated satisfactorily. It should be difficult to overcome the presumption that students should be educated in the general education classroom. Simply being behind peers in progress in the curriculum is not a reason to move a student to a more restrictive setting. “Restrictiveness” in LRE decisions relates to the amount of time spent with nondisabled students in the general education classroom or other general education environments (e.g., study hall). That is why the general education classroom is considered less restrictive than a special education classroom. The type of support a student may need, such as an aide in the general education classroom, does not make the setting more restrictive. Similarly, “LRE requirements apply to transition services, including employment-related transition services, and apply equally to the employment portion of the student’s program and placement.” There are many resources available for parents, but not all focus specifically on ensuring that the IEP is written in a way that supports inclusion in the general education curriculum and classroom. The purpose of this issue of NASET’s IEP Component series is to identify specific ways in which the IEP can be written to support inclusion.
As part of a student’s transition planning for life after high school, the student and the other members of his or her IEP team will probably consider the possibility of more education or training. In keeping with the options specifically mentioned in IDEA, the discussion of education/training after high school may focus on: (1) postsecondary education at a college, university, or community college; (2 ) vocational education to learn a trade or specific job skill; or (3) continuing and adult education. This edition of NASET’s IEP Component series comes from the Center for Parent Information and Resources and will connect you with organizations and articles that can help tackle the education/training question during transition planning.
This issue ofNASET’s IEP Component series was written by Elizabeth M. Vasquez. Parents and guardians of students with disabilities play a fundamental role in their child’s education. They play the advocate for their students in a room full of professionals. They are a piece of the puzzle that creates an Individualized Education Plan for their student. Their involvement in education allegedly is cohesive with the educators, psychologists, therapists and administrators. But there is a lack of parameters in effective parent involvement and engagement practices. The Individuals with Disability Education Act states clearly that parent participation needs to be ensured in their student’s education, but there are no clear criteria. This leaves the idea of parent involvement for either parties, educators and/or parents, left up to their perception or understanding. With no guidelines parent involvement remains inconsistent, leaving those culturally or linguistically diverse less involved and uninformed.
This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series comes from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, otherwise known as the AEM Center. It provides excellent guiding questions for those involved in writing a student’s IEP. It begins by answering such basics as: What are accessible educational materials and technologies?; Why is it important for IEP teams to consider whether a student needs them in order to access the general curriculum? What does IDEA require? Where in the IEP should certain AEM-related information be included–and how? (Great examples!) The brief looks at key parts of the IEP where AEM-information can be and needs to be inserted, given the student’s particular AEM needs.
The U.S. Department of Education (Department), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has received requests from a diverse group of stakeholders asking that the Department issue new guidance interpreting requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in light of the many challenges of the COVID?19 pandemic and as more schools and programs are returning to in-person services. Topics include meeting timelines, ensuring implementation of initial evaluation and reevaluation procedures, determining eligibility for special education and related services, and providing the full array of special education and related services that children with disabilities need in order to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). In addition, stakeholders have inquired about the implications of delayed evaluations and early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families served under IDEA Part C. This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series highlights certain Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements related to the development and implementation of individualized education programs (IEPs) and other information that state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs), regular and special education teachers, related services providers, and parents should consider.
This issue of NASET’s IEP Component series offers our readers the opportunity to view a webinar from the U.S. Department of Education. Content is focused explicitly and in detail on the development and implementation of IEPs as students return to school. Revisions to a student’s IEP may be crucial, given changes that may have occurred in the social, emotional, mental, and behavioral well-being of the child during the pandemic. Students may need to reevaluated to determine what their current needs are, so these can be addressed in their IEPs. Much discussion centered around compensatory services: what they are, when and how schools should determine whether a student needs such services, and more.
This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series comes from the Center for Parent Information and Resources. It will help you when it comes time to help students plan for transition to life after high school and especially to write an IEP that will: capture the student’s postsecondary goals in concrete, measurable terms; write corresponding IEP goals to support and prepare the student to achieve the postsecondary goals after leaving high school; reflect the IEP team’s decisions about the transition services the student needs (including what the student will study while still in high school) in order to achieve the postsecondary goals. Transition planning is complicated and involved. There are so many dimensions of adulthood to consider! That’s why, for students with disabilities, planning ahead is critical. The more significant the disability is, the more imperative it is to prepare, plan, specify, investigate, coordinate, and support. Adulthood’s coming.
This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series comes from the Fall 2022 edition of JAASEP. It was written by Michael Dunn, Ph.D. and Mary Rice, Ph.D. This study investigated special educators’ perspectives about an online toolkit that offers teachers example goals and objectives statements to use in service plans for students with special educational needs as well as teaching strategies and assessments. Special education teachers in a large school district in a Pacific Northwestern state answered a short survey (n=19). Some respondents also participated in group interviews (n=6). The research questions were: what are special education personnel’s perspectives about the online toolkit materials for writing goals and objectives for children with special educational needs; and, what do special education personnel perceive to be online toolkit’s limitations as well as weaknesses? Results indicated that the participants preferred to use the online toolkit for identifying initial ideas for goals and objectives statements in the disability service plans. However, the teachers desired more professional learning and collegial dialogue to learn about instruction, strategies, and assessment tools. The authors also discuss implications and suggested next steps for online tools in professional learning for teachers.
This issue of NASET’s IEP Components series was written by Buruuj Tunsill, Ed.S. A global pandemic placed a strain on many educators across the world, educators and students alike had to suddenly switch to a different mode of education--online learning. Online learning is when students receive instruction through synchronous or asynchronous interactions via the internet (Rice & Carter, 2015). Without professional training, educators were expected to deliver all lessons virtually to all students, which includes students with disabilities. Prior to the pandemic, educators have had difficulties implementing individualized education plans for students with disabilities. The research identifies key issues that impact educators who teach culturally and linguistically diverse students via online learning and provide recommendations for how special educators and other practitioners can better serve culturally and linguistically diverse students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Thought fictitious scenarios incorporating Yessenia and Shawn, issues that may negatively influence online learning experiences will be examined to determine the best approaches to resolving the issues in an online learning setting. There were four identified factors that can contribute to culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities online success and proper implementation of their rep: Collaborate with families, build relationship with student, familiarize yourself with students' IEP and exceptionalities, and professional development for online teaching.
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
To Purchase and Download this unique app, click on the Apple image above or copy and paste this link: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=570070557&mt=8