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Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
IEP FAQs l FETA Book l Articles l Tactics & Strategies
Law & Caselaw l Good Books l Free Pubs

Do you have questions about IEPs? You are not alone! You'll find articles, law and regulations, and tips about how to get quality services in your child's IEP on this page. You'll also learn how to use tactics and strategies to negotiate with the school. This page includes IEP cases, recommended books, and free publications about IEPs.

IEP FAQs

Questions and Answers On Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), Evaluations, and Reevaluations from US Department of Education, Building the Legacy of IDEA 2004. The responses presented in this document generally are informal guidance representing the interpretation of the Department of the applicable statutory or regulatory requirements in the context of the specific facts presented and are not legally binding.

IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About IEPs for Children with Behavior Problems  - IDEA 2004 and the special education regulations include specific requirements for IEPs of children whose behavior impedes their learning or the learning of others -- including training teachers to use positive behavioral interventions and strategies

Present Levels: The Foundation of the IEP. Until the Present Levels in your child's IEP are up to date, you will never be able to get the program, placement, or education your child needs. Indiana Advocate Pat Howey explains why parent input is so important during the IEP Team's assessment of your child's present levels of performance.

School Says, "No Advanced Classes for Kids with IEPs? Children with IEPs receive protection from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). Does your child qualifies for advanced classes and the school will not enroll her because she has an IEP? That sounds like discrimination.

How Will IEPs Change Under IDEA 2004? New requirements for special education teachers, IEPs, and scientifically based instruction for children with disabilities.

Must Services in the IEP be Provided by a Special Ed Teacher? The IDEA and federal special ed regs do not require that the services listed in the IEP must be provided by a special ed teacher. (Vote in the poll at the end of this article.)

Can School Attorneys Legally Attend IEP Meetings? Jeff Martin, parent of a child with a disability and law student in the PELE Clinic, researched this issue and wrote a legal memorandum to answer this question.

Can Parents Demand a Member of the IEP Team be Excluded? You can demand, but if you do, you set yourself up for a big fall - and you are likely to be labeled as unstable. Parents need to request the services their children need and attempt to keep things unemotional and businesslike.

How Can I Get My Child's IEP Revised? Can parents ask that the IEP be revised? Answers to questions about when and why to revise IEPs. 

Is There a Limit to the Number of Goals in the IEP? Answers to questions about IEP goals and who is responsible for long-term planning.

Can a Child be Punished for Not Meeting IEP Goals? If the teacher fails to meet the instructional objective, it makes no sense to punish the child. It is the teacher’s failure. She has not taught your child what he needs to be able to do in order the reach the goal.

Can an IEP Meeting be Postponed? The IEP Team can convene, and agree to re-convene after receiving the new testing results. There is no limit to the number of IEP meetings that may be needed to create an IEP that meets your child’s needs.

Help! I Need Some Support at the IEP Meeting. Are you anxious about attending your IEP meeting? Would you like someone to attend with you who can help you get quality services for your child. Don’t know where to start? In the beginning, this process seems overwhelming to most parents, so you are not alone.

Can More Than One Disability Be Listed in an IEP? Answer - of course. More than one disability can be documented in your child’s IEP. (Vote in the poll at the end of this article.)

Should Your Child's IEP Include Extended Year Services (ESY)? Some children with disabilities require special education and related services longer than the usual school year in order to receive FAPE. Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and/or related services provided beyond the usual school year.

Does a Child Need an IEP AND a 504 Plan? There is nothing in the law that says a child with a disability should have an IEP for some needs and a 504 plan for others. It’s confusing, it’s more work, and it’s unnecessary.

Is There a 10 Day Timeline for IEP Meetings? IDEA, the federal law and implementing regulations do not include a timeline for an IEP meeting when parents request a meeting to review or revise their child’s IEP.

When Do I Get a Copy of the IEP? You should get a copy of your child’s IEP right away. There is no reason for any delay. Write a short polite letter to request a copy. (Vote in the poll at the end of this article.)

Is Your Child Making Progress in Special Ed? Is your child making acceptable progress in special ed? Is your child on track to meet the measurable annual goals in the IEP?

Parents are Not Members of the IEP Team...Say What!? Parents are and always have been members of the IEP team. If parents aren’t involved in developing the IEP as members of the team, how would they give consent?

How Can I Correct Errors in the Record? If the school has minutes, notes, or other documentation from IEP meetings, these notes and minutes are part of your child’s record and available to you.

Tapes are "Best Evidence" in Litigation. Should we use transcripts of the meetings or use the tapes as evidence in the hearing?

What Should Be the Effective Dates on IEPs? “Effective date” means just what it says. If you write an IEP and put the “effective date” as the date of the meeting, then the IEP goes into effect on that date. If you are writing an IEP for the next academic year, the dates on the IEP should indicate that.

Can I Write on the IEP? There is no legal or commonsense reason why a parent or any other IEP team member cannot write on a child’s IEP. Some uninformed educators go crazy when a parent does this, saying that “the IEP is a legal document."

Does an IEP Make a Child Ineligible for Sports? Prohibiting a student from participating in a sport because he has a disability and an IEP is discrimination, and a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Can We Write Our Parapro's Name in the IEP? You need to be careful about how you approach this issue. Much depends on your relations with other school personnel and the policies or customs in your school or school district.

Should Poor Organizational Skills be Accommodated in the IEP? Some students with disabilities need accommodations or modifications to their educational program. Even with consistent teaching of strategies, his areas of weakness will probably never be strengths. It’s time for the school to identify and focus on his strengths, and help him find ways to compensate with the problem areas.

Is Your PLOP a Flop? The PLOP is known now as the PLAAFP, Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance that provide baseline information about your child’s knowledge and skills. Present levels are the starting point for setting IEP goals and measuring progress toward these goals.

More articles on IEPs.

IEP Pop-Ups & Checklists

Resolving IEP Disputes. Click on the pop-up box to learn strategies to resolve disagreements, steps to take if you disagree with the school, and options you have if unable to resolve disputes.

Developing Your Child's IEP. Click on the pop-up box to learn about IDEA requirements, see answers to your questions, find federal law or regulations that support these answers, and a list of additional resources.

Special Factors in IEPs. Find what special factors need to be considered by the IEP team, how the IEP must address these factors, and learn what the federal law and regulations require.

IEP Checklist: Is Your Child's IEP Individualized? What Does it Take? When you answer the questions on this IEP Checklist, you will know if your child's IEP is individualized, as the law requires.

Special Education Advocacy by Pete & Pam Wright

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition (FETA-2) by Pam and Pete Wright is available from Harbor House Law Press. Take a sneak preview of the book - download the Introduction, Chapter 1: Getting Started, and skim the other chapters of the book.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Index (pdf)

We built the From Emotions to Advocacy site at FetaWeb.com to supplent this book. You will find articles, checklists, resources, and sample letters at the The FetaWeb site. If you have From Emotions to Advocacy (FETA), go to FetaWeb.com to get your FETA Owner's Manual.

IDEA 2004 & IEPs

Writing IEP Goals by Dr. Ruth Heitin, Educational Consultant. Learn an important first step in developing your child’s IEP - writing good IEP goals. In this new article Dr. Heitin explains how to design SMART, well-formed IEP goals based on good educational practice.

IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About IEPs for Children with Behavior Problems  - IDEA 2004 and the special education regulations include specific requirements for IEPs of children whose behavior impedes their learning or the learning of others -- including training teachers to use positive behavioral interventions and strategies.

IDEA 2004: Changing Schools and IEPs - 1 week, 1 month, 90 Days? When a child transfers schools, when must the new school provide services in the IEP? Find out what IDEA 2004 says about providing comparable services for children who transfer.

IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About IEPs & IEP Meetings
-
How did IEPs change under IDEA 2004? What does the law say about developing, reviewing and revising IEPs? Who may be excused from IEP meetings, when, how? When can the child's IEP be changed without an IEP meeting? What services must be provided when a child transfers to a district in the same state? A different state? What are “multi-year IEPs”?

Changing the Dynamics of IEP Meetings: Online Draft IEP Forms. Online IEPs have introduced a shift in perspective. As skills increase, it may get better. But we are in the ‘guinea pig’ phase now. I dislike what is happened with the team dynamics.

IDEA 2004: Can the IEP Team Prepare a "Draft IEP?" IDEA 2004 discourages the use of "draft IEPs" because they send a message that parental concerns and parental participation are not valued. Since some IEP teams will continue to use draft IEPs, Pat Howey describes the pros and cons and how you can turn a lemon (draft IEP) into lemonade.

IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About IEP Team Members & IEP Team Attendance
- Learn about IEP team members and IEP team attendance, when team members may be excused from a meeting, and what parents and the school district must do before a team member may be excused.

IDEA 2004: IEPs, Highly Qualified Teachers & Research Based Instruction - Learn about new language in IDEA 2004 that is designed to ensure that children with disabilities are taught by highly qualified teachers and receive research based instruction. This article includes new requirements for personnel training, IEPs, and scientifically based instruction.

10 Tips: How to Use IDEA 2004 to Improve Your Child's Special Education Program - Parent attorney Wayne Steedman explains how IDEA 2004 creates a higher standard for a free, appropriate public education and how parents can use IDEA and NCLB to obtain a better IEP for their children. Learn how to include research based instruction in the IEP and ensure how to that the IEP goals are comprehensive, specific -- and measurable. Wayne advises you about pitfalls to avoid and provides advice about how you can resolve disputes without resorting to a due process hearing - and what you should do if you cannot resolve your dispute.

Game Plan: Write SMART IEPs - From teachers to parents, it seems like everyone is confused about how to write good IEP goals and objectives. This Wrightslaw Game Plan about SMART IEPS will help you get started. 


Your Child's IEP & Progress in the General Curriculum - Your child's IEP should be based on information from current evaluations (present levels of educational performance) and your state's curriculum and standards.

Identifying and Meeting a Child's Language Needs. Special Factors in the IEP. If your child does not speak or understand English well, the IEP team needs to ensure that your child’s language needs are identified and met.

Your Child's IEP: Practical and Legal Guidance for Parents
. This comprehensive article describes IEPs and the IEP process, including:

Present levels of performance
Is IEP Adequate? Sufficient?
Measurable goals and objectives
Educational Benefit and FAPE
How to Measure Educational Progress 
The Commentary: A Valuable Tool
Objective Testing v. Subjective Observations
Understanding the Parental Role
Passing Grades and Grade Inflation 
Sample IEP Goals

IEPs for Success by Dr. Barbara Bateman. Frustrated with one-size fits all IEPs that are not tailored to the child's unique needs? Feeling intimidated at IEP meetings? Dr. Barbara Bateman will teach you how to write IEPs that are educationally useful and legally correct. This article includes extensive discussion of transition and transition plans.

Accommodations and Modifications
. Some children with disabilities need accommodations and modifications to their special education program. This 4 page printer-friendly article defines accommodations and modifications that may be included in the IEP; gives examples for books, curriculum, instruction, assignments, and behavior.

How Can I Write SMART IEP Goals for Behavior Problems? The process is the same for any goal - academic or behavioral. You need to clearly define the target behavior.

8 Steps to Better IEP Meetings: Play Hearts, Not Poker by Jennifer Bollero, Esq. Mother of child with autism explains that parents need to learn the ules and strategies, to reduce the risks when you negotiate for your child. "Your child's IEP should never be a gamble. Know what your goals are and work them. Many roads lead to the same place. Many different cards can win the game."

School Must Offer an IEP to Child with a Disability. The child has a disability, school does not write an IEP or provide FAPE. In Knable v. Bexley, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issues a clear, well-written decisions about IEPs, IEP meetings, child find, substantive and procedural violations, and tuition reimbursement.

Support for School Personnel and Parent Training: Often Overlooked Keys to Success by Susan Bardet, Esq. To help children learn and succeed, IEP teams can use the tools provided by IDEA, including support for school personnel and training for parents.

To Promote or Retain. If you have a child with a disability, you may face a tough decision. Many schools offer two "solutions" to children's learning problems: retention and referral to special education - and do not offer the third "R" - remediation. Facts about Retention

Use the Commentary as a Tool. Learn how to use the Commentary to answer questions about IEPs, IEP meetings, IEP teams, when the IEP should be revised, the parental role, transition, and other topics.

Tests and Measurements for the Parent, Teacher, Advocate and Attorney. To write IEP goals and objectives that are tailored to the child's unique needs, you need to learn how to interpret educational and psychological test results. (NOTE: To ensure that you get the graphics in this article, you may want to print the article from the screen, rather than download it.)

Legal Requirements for Transition Components of the IEP. Dr. Barbara Bateman, co-author of Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives, teaches you about transition, IEPs, self-advocacy for students, confidentiality, and more.

Can a Child with an IEP Fail? The IEP does not guarantee that your child won’t fail, although it is unusual for a child with an IEP to fail.

IEP Tactics & Strategies 

Tactics & Strategies: IEP Goals and Objectives. How can you get good goals and objectives in your child's IEP? What can you do if the school wants to use subjective "teacher observations," not objective testing in the IEP? How can parents avoid "methodology disputes?" Pete and Pam Wright teach you to use tactics and strategies in IEPs.

Tips & Tricks for Getting Effective IEPs. Nothing is foolproof and nothing is perfect. But these tricks and tips worked well for Parent Advocate Sharon Lutz and helped her get good programs that met her children’s needs.

Tactics & Strategies: How to Use a Parent IEP Attachment. Confused at IEP meetings? Do you find that your questions are not answered? In this article by advocate Judy Bonnell, you learn how to use a simple form to track your requests, the school's response, issues that were resolved and issues that are still on the table. 

Tactics & Strategies: Sample Parent Agenda - A.J.'s parents sent this parent agenda. We thought it was such a good example that we decided to include it in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy (see page 267).

Tactics & Strategies: How to Use Follow-Up Letters to Get Answers to Your Questions. Advice from parent advocate Pat Howey about how to get the IEP team to answer your questions, avoid power struggles, deal with IEP meeting frustrations, and use your power wisely. 

Tactics & Strategies: IEP Meetings (Or Playing 20 Questions with the Devil). Frustrated at IEP meetings? Meeting with an IEP team that will not answer your questions? Parent attorney Sonja Kerr teaches an approach for dealing with the IEP meeting quagmire. If you are preparing for an IEP meeting, read Sonja Kerr's advice.

School Attorney at IEP Meeting - Parents Walk Out. When parents walk out of a meeting and refuse to participate, some courts have held that against them. By walking out, they waived their right to participate.

How Can an IEP Team Work Together if the Key Players Won't "Play"? Have you ever attended an IEP meeting that began well, but suddenly turned to complete chaos!

I'm a Teacher and I Know IEPs Aren't Being Followed. What Do I Do? Is the administration is aware that IEPs are not being followed, and if they do know, why they haven’t put a stop to it?

When Teachers Won't Provide Accommodations in the IEP? If regular education teachers are not implementing the accommodations in your child’s IEP, you need to document this. A good strategy is to write short polite letters to people in authority. Begin by writing a polite letter to the principal. Describe the problem and ask for his help.

Make a Video for the IEP Meeting. "Introducing ... He's a child, not a Label". Tiffany Moody wrote this article to tell you about how she created a video about her son and the impact the video had on the IEP meeting.

Can School Attorneys Legally Attend IEP Meetings? Jeff Martin, parent of a child with a disability and law student in the PELE Clinic. Jeff found information that supported his position that, in general, parent and school attorneys should not attend IEP meetings. Read more discussion...

IEP Law and Regulations

Most parents and teachers get information about the law from training sessions, articles, advice on list serves, and informal discussions with others. Your knowledge can rise no higher than your source! You must read the law - this is the only way to understand legal rights, responsibilities, and issues.

IDEA 2004: Section 1414 - Evaluations, Reevaluations and IEPs

Overview, Explanation and Comparison of IDEA 2004 and IDEA 97

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004: Overview, Explanation and Comparison of IDEA 2004 & IDEA 97
by Peter W. D. Wright, Esq. describes the substantive changes to the five key statutes of IDEA 2004 by section and subsection. Text added to IDEA 2004 is in italics. Text deleted from IDEA 97 has been struck through.
Download IDEA 2004: Overview, Explanation & Comparison (56 pages)

Special Education Cases

Board of Ed. of Hendrick Hudson Central School Dist. v. Rowley 458 U.S. 176 (1982) - First decision in a special education case by the U. S. Supreme Court; defined "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) and discusses IEPs.

Burlington Sch. Committee v. Mass. Bd. of Ed., 471 U. S. 359 (1985). Decision clarifies procedural safeguards, parent role in educational decision-making; tuition reimbursement for private placement; child's placement during dispute about FAPE.

Shannon Carter v. Florence County School District IV. Tuition reimbursement case that was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. Decision focuses on an appropriate program and IEP for Shannon, a child with dyslexia.

Amanda C. v. Clark County Sch. Dist. and Nevada Dept. of Ed, U. S. Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit issues strong decision for child with autism. Court cites research about ABA/Lovaas treatment; describes purposes of the IDEA; IEPs and procedural safeguards.

Evans v. Rhinebeck New York tuition reimbursement case; judge discusses components of an appropriate IEP for a child with dyslexia; vague subjective IEP goals and objectives.

T. H. v. Palatine Decision focuses on an appropriate program for a young child with autism; includes excellent discussion of vague subjective IEP goals and objectives. (in pdf) 

Kanawha v. Michael M. Court analyzes"appropriate" in the context of Rowley; discussed educational benefit; provided guidelines to determine if an IEP is appropriate. Kanawha v. Michael M. is one of Pete's favorite cases "not because it has great precedence, but because it does an excellent job of describing difficulties in the legal definition of 'appropriate'and how to use 'appropriate'in developing an IEP."

Good Books about IEPs

Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives by Barbara Bateman and Cynthia Herr. The heart of the law is the child's written Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives teaches educators and parents how to write IEPs that are legally correct and educationally useful.  

IEP and Inclusion Tips by Anne Eason and Kathleen Whitbread - Learn how to prepare for IEP meetings, create legally correct and educationally sound IEPs, ensure access to the general curriculum, track educational progress, and form effective parent-school partnerships. Features more than 100 tips to help parents, teachers and administrators share goals and develop healthy working relationships.

How Well Does Your IEP Measure Up? by Diane Twachtman-Cullen
. Step-by-step guide to writing IEPs; includes sample goal & objective templates for areas of functioning typically neglected in IEPs Includes recommendations for teaching strategies, educational programming formats & useful resources.

The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child. This useful book by attorney Lawrence Siegel is filled with organization and planning tips, sample letters and forms; information about IEPs. More info

Preparing Instructional Objectives teaches you to identify, select, and write educational objectives. You learn how to describe the performances you expect to achieve, identify the conditions under which you expect the performance to occur, and set criteria for acceptable performance

Measuring Educational Results by Robert Mager. How do you know if a child is learning and making progress? You measure the results of instruction to determine if objectives and benchmarks have been achieved. This easy-to-read book gives you tools to measure instructional results. Learn more about Measuring Instructional Results.

For more good books about IEPs and special ed advocacy, visit the Advocate's Bookstore.

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition (ISBN: 978-1-892320-16-2, 456 pages, 8 1/2" x 11", perfect bound) by Peter Wright and Pamela Wright, published in 2007, is available in two formats: a print book and a print & e-book combo. The book includes:

  • Full text of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 and IDEA 2004 regulations with analysis and commentary
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • No Child Left Behind Act
  • Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Act
  • Decisions in special education cases from the U. S. Supreme Court
  • References and resources

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition is available in two versions: as a print book and as a print book & e-book combo.

Print book (456 pages, 8 1/2" x 11", perfect bound, $29.95 plus shipping) Order

E-book and Print Book Combo (456 pages, 8 1/2" x 11", perfect bound, $44.95 plus shipping) When you order the Special Education Law E-book and Print Book Combo, you'll receive a link to the
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition E-book (3.8 mgs) immediately. The text in the Special Education Law E-book is identical to the print version. The E-book has bookmarks, page thumbnails, hyperlinks to hundreds of references, and is designed to help you find information on specific topics quickly and easily (Value: $15.00).
Order

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition is designed to meet the needs of parents, teachers, advocates, attorneys, related services providers, school psychologists, administrators, college professors, hearing officers, and employees of district and state departments of education.

Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind.(ISBN: 1-892320-12-6) by Peter W. D. Wright, Pamela Darr Wright and Suzanne Whitney Heath is published by Harbor House Law Press and includes the No Child Left Behind CD-ROM.


Surviving Due Process: When Parents and the School Board Disagree

Surviving Due Process: When Parents and the School Board Disagree - Stephen Jeffers v. School Board. Takes you through a special education due process hearing, from initial preparations to testimony by the final witness. Jeffers v. School Board is based on the true story of a young child with autism. With different evidence and witnesses, this could easily be a case about a child with a different disability or a different legal issue. (DVD, 2 hours, $19.95)
Internet Orders l Mail, Phone & Fax Orders l Exam Copies Discounts

Free Pubs & Resources

Understanding the Standards-based Individual Education Program (IEP). Advocacy Brief from NCLD. The term "standards-based IEP is used to describe a process and document that is framed by the state standards and that contains annual goals aligned with, and chosen to failitate the student's achievement of, state grade level academic standards.

Accommodations Manual:  How to Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities. (in html) Developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards Assessing Special Education Students.

The Accommodations Manual presents a five-step process for individualized educational program teams, 504 plan committees, general and special education teachers, administrators, and district-level assessment staff to use in the selection, administration, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the use of instructional and assessment accommodations by students with disabilities. The guidance in the manual pertains to students with disabilities who participate in large-scale assessments and the instruction they receive.

A Guide to the Individualized Education Program published by the U. S. Department of Education. Learn how to write IEPs that improve teaching, learning, and educational results. Article includes contents of the IEP; IEP team members; writing the IEP; placement decisions; implementing the IEP; revising and revising the IEP; resolving disagreements about the IEP; sample IEP form, information and resources, the federal regulations for IEPs, and guidance about IEPs. Download

Designing Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Plans from ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to prepare students with disabilities for employment and independent living. Transition planning that involves students and their families leads to post-school success and independence. Article describes how to design quality IEP transition plans. Download

Questions and Answers On Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), Evaluations, and Reevaluations from US Department of Education, Building the Legacy of IDEA 2004. The responses presented in this document generally are informal guidance representing the interpretation of the Department of the applicable statutory or regulatory requirements in the context of the specific facts presented and are not legally binding.

Building the Legacy. A Training Curriculum on IDEA 2004 from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY).
Theme D: Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
The IEP Team: Who is a Member?
Content of the IEP
Meetings of the IEP Team
LRE Decision Making
Children Enrolled by Their Parents in Private Schools

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Last Revised: 04/16/13

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