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Roadmap to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:
What You Need to Know About IEPs and IEP Meetings

When Congress reauthorized the Individuals with Disabiities Education Act, they made significant changes to Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and IEP meetings. These changes included:

  • content of IEPs;
  • who is required to attend IEP meetings;
  • IEPs by agreement;
  • reviewing and revising IEPs;
  • transition and transition plans; and
  • alternate ways to participate in meetings.

Use this article as your roadmap to IEPs and IEP meetings.

Content of IEPs

Present Levels of Performance

When Congress reauthorized in IDEA, they required that the child's IEP include a statement of the child'spresent levels of academic achievement and functional performance from objective data in tests and assessments.

Annual Goals

IEPs must include a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals.

Educational Progress

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires IEPs to include a description of how the child's progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured and when periodic reports of the child's progress toward meeting the annual goals (as by quarterly or other periodic reports at the time report cards are issued) will be provided to the parents.

Special Education and Related Services

The IDEA includes language about research-based instruction. The child's IEP must include a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research (to the extent practicable) that the school will provide and a statement of program modifications and supports for school personnel

Accommodations and Alternate Assessments

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes new language about individual appropriate accommodations on state and district testing and requirements for alternate assessments.

The child's IEP must include:

" . . . a statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and districtwide assessments . . . "

" . . . if the IEP Team determines that the child shall take an alternate assessment on a particular State or districtwide assessment of student achievement, a statement of why "the child cannot participate in the regular assessment;
and why " . . . the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child"

Transition.

The first IEP after the child is 16 (and updated annually) must include:

"appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and independent living skills" and transition services (including courses of study) the child needs to reaching these goals.

When IEP Team Members May be Excused from Meetings

A member of the child's IEP team may be excused from attending an IEP meeting if the member's area of the curriculum or service will not be discussed or modified and if the parent and school agree.

An IEP team member may be excused if the member's area of curriculum or service will be discussed or modified if the team member submits a written report to the parent and other members of the IEP team in advance, and if the parent provides written consent
.

Developing the IEP

In developing the child's IEP, the IEP team shall consider:
  • the child's strengths
  • the parent's concerns for enhancing the child's education
  • the results of the initial evaluation or most recent evaluation; and
  • the child's academic, developmental, and functional needs.

The IEP team shall consider special factors for children:

  • whose behavior impedes learning
  • who have limited English proficiency
  • who are blind or visually impaired
  • who are deaf or hard of hearing

Educational Placements

Parents are members of the team that decides the child's placement. The placement decision cannot be made until after the IEP team, including the parent, reaches consensus about the child's needs, program, and goals.

Although the law is clear on this issue, the child's "label" often drives decisions about services and placement, leading to school personnel to determine the child's placement before the IEP meeting with the child's parent.

These unilateral actions prevent parents from "meaningful participation" in making educational decisions for their child.

Reviewing and Revising IEPs

The IEP must be reviewed at least once a year to determine if the child is achieving the annual goals. The IEP team must revise the IEP to address:

  • any lack of expected progress
    results of any reevaluation<
    information provided by the parents
    anticipated needs

    Revising IEP by Agreement, Without an IEP Meeting

    If the parent and school agree to amend or modify the IEP, they may revise the IEP by agreement without convening an IEP meeting.

    The team must create a written document that describes the changes or modifications to the IEP and note that, by agreement of the parties, an IEP meeting was not held.

    Alternative Ways to Participate in Meetings

    School meetings do not have to be face-to-face. IEP and placement meetings, mediation meetings, and due process (IEP) resolution sessions may be convened by conference calls or videoconferences.

    In-State and Out-of State Transfers

    If a child transfers to a school district in the same state, the receiving district must provide comparable services to those in the sending district's IEP until they develop and implement a new IEP.
    If a child transfers to another state, the receiving district must provide comparable services to those in the sending district's IEP until they complete an evaluation and create a new IEP.

    Multi-Year IEPs

    Less than half of states may request approval to implement optional, comprehensive, multi-year IEPs for periods of no longer than three years. IEP review dates must be based on natural transition points.

    Parents have the right to opt-out of this program. The parent of a child served under a multi-year IEP can request a review of the IEP without waiting for a "natural transition point."

    IDEA 2004 at Wrightslaw
    Read more What You Need to Know About IDEA articles.

    IDEA 2004 at Wrightslaw will help you find answers to your questions. How the site is currently organized:


    Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

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    * No Child Left Behind Act
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    * Decisions in special education cases from the U.S. Supreme Court
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