What Are Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) and the Committee on Special Education (CSE) are responsible to write Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) on all identified special needs students. These legal documents specifically address the needs of the students and must be reviewed and revised at least once a year.
Typically, a CPSE or CSE meeting is scheduled to review: the child's current IEP, any recent evaluations, related services reports, and any other pertinent information. The committee includes the: administrator/supervisor with an understanding of special education, special educator, general educator, psychologist, parent member, the child's parent/guardian, and the child when age appropriate. If related services are provided, such as counseling, PT, OT or speech, then the providers are invited to the meeting.
Although the format and some of the terminology of an IEP may vary from state to state, and even from school to school, there are six elements that every IEP must include:
1. PLEP. Information regarding the student's present levels of education performance must include how the student is functioning in terms of: academics, social, emotional and physical. Input should be provided by those who work directly with the student, the school psychologist and the school nurse. One person can gather the information and put it into narrative form.
2. Annual Goals. Annual goals, including short-term instructional objectives or benchmarks, need to reflect the concerns given in the PLEP. The IEP also needs to include the criteria to evaluate these goals.
3. Special and general education. The IEP needs to provide information regarding the special education and related services the student will receive, and where these service will be provided. For example, if a child is provided with a 1:1 aide, is the aide needed during the inclusion classes, but not while the child attends resource room? The IEP also needs to identify to what extent the child will participate in the general education setting.
4. Dates. The dates of when services will begin and potentially terminate must be included. This is especially important for school districts that create IEPs that cover a portion of two school years.
5. Test modifications. The committee is responsible to carefully identify modifications that are needed for the student to participate in district wide and statewide assessments. Modifications must be supported by the PLEP. For example, if a child is identified as LD in math, and there's no concerns given regarding his reading ability, then he cannot have "test read" as a test modification. If the committee determines that a child's functioning level is too low, even with modifications, for the child to even attempt a state test, then the committee can choose to have the child take an alternate assessment. This needs to be documented on the IEP.
6. Teacher Resources. Any faculty/staff who will be working directly with the student, needs to read and understand the contents of the student's IEP. Furthermore, if a student has unique needs that the faculty/staff isn't knowledgeable about, or a specific program or piece of equipment will be used, then training needs to be provided. This should be listed as a statement on the IEP.
In addition to these main components, an IEP may also include a section for test scores, rubrics, suggestions for modifying lesson plans, and the type of diploma the child is working towards. Although much of the information is provided by the school, parents should be encouraged to give input and ask questions.