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Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)

Overview of IEPs

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the cornerstone of the special education process for each individual student. As described in the State Education Department’s Guide to Quality Individualized Education Program (IEP) Development and Implementation, the IEP is a strategic planning document that should be far-reaching in its impact.

What IEPs do:

  • Identify the students’ unique needs and how the school will strategically address those needs;
  • Identify how specially designed instruction will be provided in the context of supporting the students in the general education curriculum and in reaching the same learning standards as nondisabled students;
  • Guide how the special education resources of the school need to be configured to meet the needs of students with disabilities in that school;
  • Identify how students with disabilities will be prepared for adult living;
  • Measure students’ progress toward goals and objectives, providing schools with information to determine if they have appropriately configured and used their resources to reach the desired outcomes for students with disabilities.

To assist students in becoming involved and progressing in the general education curriculum, the IEP team must consider both the state’s next generation learning standards and the school-based instructional curriculum which should be aligned to the state’s learning standards. In developing IEPs that are linked to standards, the State Education Department recommends that IEPs should:

  1. Review the content as well as the expectations for how the student will learn or demonstrate knowledge and skill in the content areas.
  2. Identify the strengths and challenges for the student in relation to those expectations in the present levels of performance section of the IEP.
  3. Identify how a student’s needs are linked to the general curriculum (e.g., a student’s difficulty with visual processing may affect graphing skills required to achieve the math standards).
  4. Identify the goals that the student will be expected to achieve in one year. The development of annual goals should be guided by the following question: What knowledge, skills, behaviors and strategies does the student need to master the content of the curriculum?
  5. Identify the special education services, including the adaptations, accommodations or modifications to the general curriculum, and/or instructional environment and materials, as needed by the student to reach those standards.

More recent changes to state regulations regarding IEPs have added requirements regarding transition planning and recommendations for one-to-one paraprofessional support. Transition planning meetings must now include a discussion of graduation requirements that apply to the student, the student's progress toward receiving a diploma, and the appeal, and safety net options that are available to the student. Parents must be provided written information explaining graduation requirements and be informed that graduation with a local or Regents diploma terminates their child's eligibility to a free public education and special education services.

With regard to recommending the assignment of a one-to-one paraprofessional, IEP teams must now consider a number of factors including the management needs that would require a significant degree of individual attention and intervention; the skills and goals the student would need to achieve to reduce or eliminate the need for paraprofessional support; the specific support needed by the student; other supports, accommodations or services that could meet those needs; the portion of the school day and circumstances during which the child requires support; how the assignment of the paraprofessional would support the student's education in the least restrictive environment and any harmful effect that might result from the assignment of a paraprofessional. Significantly, the new regulations require the IEP team to address the training and support that will be provided to the paraprofessional to help the paraprofessional understand the student's disability related needs, learn strategies for addressing such needs and acquire the skills needed to support implementation of the student's IEP.

Every student with a disability must have an IEP in effect by the beginning of each school year. Federal and state laws and regulations specify the information that must be documented in each student’s IEP. The electronic IEP in the NYC DOE’s Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) is designed to meet the state requirements.

Source: State Guide to Quality Individualized Education Program (IEP) Development and Implementation, pp. 1-4

Tape recording of IEP meetings

While a parent may request that an IEP meeting be audiotaped, 24-hour notice must be provided in writing to the school principal or Committee on Special Education Chairperson. Should such a request be made, the IEP team may also tape the IEP meeting.

Special Education Standard Operating Procedures Manual, Topic: The IEP Team, Members Required at All IEP Meetings, Recording the IEP Meeting

IEP resources