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What is an IEP


Individualized Education Program (IEP)

For every student who qualifies for and needs special education services, the team develops a special written document called an Individualized Education Program (IEP). People often refer to it as an Individualized Education Plan.

The IEP outlines the unique needs and specialized goals and objectives that will help the student make educational progress. Services are based on information gathered from parent and teacher input, evaluations, state and district assessments, classroom performance and current levels of academic progress on IEP goals. The IEP is reviewed at least one time a year. 

Required IEP Team Members:

  • Parent(s)/Guardian(s) of the student
  • At least one regular education teacher of the student (licensed in the student's qualifying disability area)
  • The special education teacher of the student or, when appropriate, the special education service provider
  • An administrative representative of the school district 
  • When necessary, an interpreter

Additional team members may include the following: The school psychologist, the school social worker or guidance counselor, the speech/language pathologist, the occupational therapist, other related service personnel, additional licensed special education teachers and, when appropriate, the student. 

What goes into an IEP?

Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP):

Law requires that each IEP has a statement regarding a student's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. This statement must include how the student's disability impacts the student's progress in the regular education classroom compared to peers without disabilities. The present levels describe the strengths, needs, abilities and performance of the student. 

IEP Services:

Special education services will depend on the individual needs of the child as a result of their disability and identified in the IEP team meeting.  Special education services are provided in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and may include academic, functional, social, emotional or behavior services. 

IEP Related Services:

Related services provide support to students with disabilities and qualify for special education services.  According to IDEA, related services are "transporation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education." Related services help students reach annual goals and may include the following:

  • Speech-language
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Audiology
  • Counseling
  • School health services
  • Transportation
  • Social work services
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Adaptive Physical Education 

IEP Annual Goals and Short-Term Objectives:

  • IEP annual goals state what the student will be working towards in one year's time.  These goals must be measurable and individualized. The goals are determined based on the present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP).
  • May include academic, functional or social/emotional/behavior
  • Written so that students can make adequate progress in the general education curriculum
  • Short-term Objectives are the annual goals broken down into smaller parts. We use them to measure progress from baseline data to the end of the year (annual goal). 


Accommodations and Modifications:

  • Accommodations are changes in how a student accesses the curriculum and demonstrates learning.  Accommodations do not reduce learning expectations, rather, they reduce or eliminate the effects of their disability. 
  • Modifications change the material, program, standard or curriculum so that the student is able to participate in a meaningful way alongside their peers. Modifications do reduce learning expectations.

Secondary Transition:

Secondary Transition is a process in which students with disabilities and the IEP team begin planning for life after high school. Planning includes post-secondary education goals, independent living goals as well as employment goals. Transition planning must begin by the time a student begins 9th grade, but it can begin earlier. 


District Assessments

IEP teams determine if district assessments are appropriate for the student and determine appropriate accommodations or modifications, if any, a student needs in order to participate. 

State Assessments

Law requires that students with disabilities participate in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) or, when appropriate, an alternative assessment, the Minnesota Test of Alternative Skills (MTAS). The student's IEP must state what assessment will be administered and what accommodations and modifications, if any, the student requires in order to participate. 

IEP Considerations and Guidelines:

  • Consider strengths and needs of the student
  • Include student input as well as their personal learning preferences
  • Language/Cultural factors
  • Include parent concerns
  • Medical/physical/health
  • Goals need to be measurable and attainable in one year's time
  • Students are given equal access to curriculum
  • Ongoing collaboration and consultation with all IEP team members