IEP writing is one of the most important responsibilities of a special education teacher. Some school districts provide software for writing Individual Education Plans, but smaller districts will continue to use your state's forms. Still, the federal law, IDEA, lays out the parts of an IEP that are necessary. Understanding the sections will help you write with more confidence.
The first part of the IEP is general information. You need to be sure that phone numbers and addresses are correct. Also prepare the signature page which should include the student if the student is 16 or older. When a student turns 16, they need to be part of transition planning, which will be part of the IEP.
Procedural Safeguards Notice
Your district will provide a copy of the Procedural Safeguards, which vary from state to state. The Procedural Safeguards explain the processes of special education and the rights of the child and the parents.
This offers a number of check offs to indicate if the child has specific challenges: blindness, deafness, communication needs, the need for assistive technology, proficiency in English, and finally behaviors that impede educational progress. Each item checked needs to be addressed either in the goals or the Specially Designed Instruction. A check off in front of behavior requires that an FBA (Functional Behavioral Analysis) and a BIP (Behavior Improvement Plan) must both be written and part of the IEP.
Present levels are one of the most important parts of the IEP, and should be attended to first. This includes some standardized evaluation: an individual test such as the Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement or the Peabody Individual Achievement Test.
Present levels also include classroom observations (these need to be collected in high school across subjects) and parental observations. These can be collected through telephone calls, questionnaires or email.
This section ends with strengths and needs. These can be taken directly from the Evaluation Report , but each need must be addressed either in the educational goals or the specially designed instruction.
Transition services are the means for preparing special ed students for college or work after high school. In the earlier (1994) IDEA, a transition plan was begun at 14. It is still a good practice to begin the discussion, but the new (2004) IDEA doesn't require them to start until 16. The plan should include post school goals and appropriate means to reach them through support and an appropriate educational program.
Participation in State and Local Assessments
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all but a very small group (1 to 3%) of all students with significant disabilities must participate in the state test. If the child will be taking the regular state or local assessment with accommodations you check that off. If the child will take the alternate assessment, you check that off
Goals are an essential part of the plan. There should be a goal to meet each need laid out in the Evaluation Report. Goals need to be specific, explicit and measurable. They need to be clearly written so the general education teacher and the child's next special education teacher, will be able to collect data and evaluate the child's progress.
Related Services/Accomodations/Modificatons/Supplementary Aids and Services
Specially Designed Instruction goes in the first slot here. This includes accommodations and modification.
The next set of slots are for special services a child will receive, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy or adaptive physical education and includes the frequency and duration of services.
The last section includes supports the teacher will get, which may include training, consultations with the psychologist or behavior specialist, or in the case of the general ed teacher, regular meetings with the special education teacher.
In this section a recommendation is made as to whether the student should participate in Extended School Year, ESY. Students who are likely to lose academic progress made during the regular school year are provided with educational services during the summer.
Because of IDEA and the concepts of FAPE and LRE, this section is important: Doesn't take long, but it is really important. You will be asked for the amount of support: itinerant (the teacher travels,) supplemental (between 20 and 80% of the day in receiving services) and full time (80% or more.) You will be asked the kind support, which ranges across life skills autistic support, emotional support, visually impaired and blind, hearing impaired and deaf, physical support, and learning support (the most common.)
There are two places you will collect signatures: the signature page on the IEP which records who attended the meeting and participated, and finally the NOREP (Notice of Recommended Education Placement) which indicates that the IEP and the placement recommendations made by the IEP team are acceptable. You can sigh a big sigh of relief when this is signed-you're on your way to implementing the child's new program!