What Belongs in an Individual Education Program?

Exceptional students require an IEP. Here's what it should contain

Individual Education Program, or IEP, is a long-range (yearly) planning document for exceptional students used in conjunction with a teacher's class plans.

Each student has unique needs that must be recognized and planned for in the academic program so he or she can function as effectively as possible. This is where the IEP comes into play. Placement of students may vary depending upon their needs and exceptionalities.

A student may be placed in:

  • a regular classroom and receive program modifications
  • a regular classroom and receive program modifications plus additional support from the special education teacher
  • a regular classroom for a part of the day and a special education classroom for the remainder of the day
  • a special education classroom with a variety of direct and indirect support from special education teachers and consultative support staff
  • a treatment program or residential program with complete and ongoing support from a variety of staff.

What Should Be in an IEP?

Regardless of the placement of the student, an IEP will be in place. The IEP is a "working" document, which means evaluation comments should be added throughout the year. If something in the IEP isn't working, It should be noted along with suggestions for improvement.

The contents of the IEP will vary from state to state and country to country, however, most will require the following:

  • the date the plan will be implemented along with the date the student placement became effective
  • a signature from the parent and the student, depending on their age
  • the student's exceptionality or multiple exceptionalities
  • health issues, if applicable
  • any equipment used on a regular basis, such as a walker or a feeding chair, other personalized equipment and any equipment that is on loan to the student
  • personnel that may be involved while the IEP is in effect, such as a vision resource specialist or the physio therapist
  • curricular modifications or accommodations
  • the specific amount of support the student will receive, such as if he or she will be in the regular class for physical education, science, social studies, art and music, but a special education room for for language and math
  • the student's strengths and interests, which helps to provide motivation for the student
  • standardized assessment results or test scores
  • academic functioning along with the date, such as, if the student is in fifth grade but functioning academically at the second grade
  • all subject areas requiring modifications or additional support
  • detailed goals, expectations and performance standards
  • strategies to achieve the goals or expectations

IEP Samples, Forms and Information

Here are some links to downloadable IEP forms and handouts to give you an idea of how some school districts handle IEP planning, including blank IEP templates, sample IEPs and information for parents and staff.

IEPs for Specific Disabilities

Lists of Sample Goals

Lists of Sample Accommodations