An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is an educational program designed to meet a child’s unique needs.  Each child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP, and each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document.  The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when age appropriate) to work together as a team to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.

The Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) provides a process guide for the IEP.

What is an IEP?

An IEP is a legally binding document.  It establishes a plan for an individual student who is identified as having one or more of 13 disabilities:

  • Autism
  • Developmental Delay
  • Intellectual Impairment
  • Sensory Impairment**
    • Hearing Impairment or Deaf
    • Vision Impairment or Blind
    • Deafblind
  • Neurological Impairment
  • Emotional Impairment
  • Communication Impairment
  • Physical Impairment
  • Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability

Sensory disability may be counted as 1 disability, or as 3 separate disabilities (Hearing, Vision, Deaf-Blind), as defined in state and Federal laws. Generally, which ever law provides the most coverage, is the law that is applied.

For the Massachusetts definition, refer to 28.02 section (7).

Children who are ages 0 to age 3 are eligible for IFSP .
Students between ages of 3 – 21 are eligible for an IEP.

The following is a summary of what is contained in the IEP:

  • The student’s disability(ies);
  • A vision statement of the student’s long term goal (1 – 5 years in future);
  • Describe how the student’s disability (ies) effects their progress in the classroom;
  • Short term goals, based upon the child’s own learning strengths and weaknesses;
    • How the child’s progress towards these goals will be measured and how the goals will be evaluated;
  • Accommodations and modifications;
  • Summer services;
  • Transports needs; and
  • Type of placement.

For students with behavior or emotional issues that interfere with their learning, the IEP also should contain a program designed to teach the student behavioral and social skills, and list all behavior management techniques to be used.

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