What is an IEP?

An IEP (Individual Education Plan) is a written plan to describe how the delivery of the school curriculum is going to be adapted and modified to meet the educational needs of a particular student. These plans can also be referred to as Individual Learning Plans, Curriculum Adjustment Plans or Documented Plans.

The plan may be developed by a team of people including the parent/guardian, the teacher, support personnel and, where appropriate, the child. There is no one correct format for IEPs and each one will be different, but it should be clear and easily understood by everyone involved.

It is an “Action Plan” for the student’s educational needs and it should state very clearly:

  • Immediate goals and the time frame involved;
  • Content of the program or approach undertaken;
  • How assessment will be made and progress monitored;
  • Time and frequency of reviews; and,
  • Who will be responsible for implementation and coordination.

It is a plan, rather than a program. The fact that an IEP exists does not necessarily mean that appropriate intervention is happening and it may require following up by the parent from time to time.

Parents should ask to be involved in the development and reviews of IEPs that are developed for their child.

The Parent’s Role

Parents can:

  • Help the school staff better understand their child;
  • Show an interest in their child’s learning; and,
  • Show willingness to be part of the support team.

Meetings with school staff can be daunting for some parents and it is best to attend meetings well-prepared.

Parents can:

  • Make a list of their child’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • Gather together any past information that might be helpful;
  • Give some thought to the kind of goals they would like their child to reach;
  • Make a list of the questions they would like answered; and,
  • Consider how they will be able to help at home.

Parents can:

  • Contribute to the discussion;
  • Clarify anything they do not understand – educational jargon can be confusing and it is essential that parents ask for an explanation if something is not clear;
  • Listen for the details of long and short term goals or targets that will be set, specific strategies,
    individual responsibilities, resources and time frames;
  • Approach the discussion in a “problem solving” way. Parents are part of a team with their child’s best interests at heart. It is important to evaluate the best way that everyone can help. It is also important that parents remain positive and look for solutions;
  • Make notes – in particular, they can be sure that they have the review date clear.

Parents can:

  • Review the notes;
  • Ask if they have understood the goals, what is actually going to be done in or out of school time, who is going to do it and the parent’s role in the program;
  • When they get a written copy of the IEP, check that the written version of the IEP is consistent with their understandings and notes;
  • Communicate regularly with the classroom teacher;
  • Write a quick note or have a word immediately with a teacher if a problem arises. This should happen before things escalate or get overlooked;
  • Ensure they do what they agreed to do;
  • Be prepared for the review meeting with their feedback.