Skip to main content
Full Menu Close Menu

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)

Overview of IEPs

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the cornerstone of the special education process for each individual student. The IEP is a strategic planning document that should be far-reaching in its impact.

What IEPs do:

  • Identify the student’s unique strengths and how the school will strategically leverage the students' strengths to address their 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 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.

While the contents of the IEP have not changed in decades, recent scholarship has encouraged a shift in thinking about the IEP development process. Students qualify for special education based on a determination of disability and educational needs, so it makes sense that most schools have taken a deficit-based approach to developing IEPs. Strength-based IEPs instead start with learning about what students like and do well – their strengths, abilities, interests, and preferences. This information is then incorporated into the present levels of performance and used to develop strength-based goals. This approach has the collateral effects of promoting self-awareness, giving the student more agency in the IEP process, and fostering a growth mindset.

Learn more about strength-based IEPs

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