Teacher and Pupil

How do I write an IEP?

Section by section writing tips for real teachers.  Text examples for easy use in your own IEPs.  These simple guides can cut your IEP writing time in half.

How to write an IEP step by step

Writing a student strengths section of an IEP

Writing a student strength statement is not difficult when you have a framework to help guide you.  A well rounded statement shows a variety of strength areas with up to three choices from each.  Keep it simple but honest and always ask the parents and general education teachers for their input prior to choosing what would be the strengths to showcase the student best.

Student Strengths Statement framework

When writing a profile of the student's strength, think about the child as a whole. 

  1. What are the strengths that make the student academically successful? 

  2. What are strengths that the student has that makes him/her socially adaptable or socially accepted? 

 

Both of these questions lead to academic and behavioral success in the classroom. Both items combined will be at the forefront of any student's strength profile. ​​

Sample:
Sam has a strong character, is eager to learn, and is curious about a new subject. In his classroom behavior, he demonstrates responsibility by coming prepared to class with materials ready to learn. His positive work habits show that he follows rules and routines, can ignore distractions, and is a self starter in classroom activities.  

Use this framework to help guide the writing process:
__________ has a strong character, is _______________, and is _______________. In his/her classroom behavior, he/she demonstrates responsibility by _______________. His/her positive work habits show that he/she _______________, can _______________, and _______________.  


Sample:
Megan is a hard worker in class. Her math skills are a strength, as are her social skills. She enjoys working with peers and completes tasks on time.

__________ is a hard worker in class. Her/His __________ skills are a strength, as are her/his __________ skills. She/He enjoys __________ and __________ .

Sentence starters for student strengths statement in an IEP

These helpful sentence starter can be best used with the assistance of the student and parents.  Have them fill out what their best answer are and then compare to find commonalities.

__________ is best at…
__________ has an amazing ability to…

__________ always takes pride in his/her work when…
__________ is frequently recognized for…
__________ participates the most when…
__________ does this better than any other student…

__________ is highly motivated by…
__________ is highly interested in…

Student Strengths Category List

Student strengths come in all different shapes and sizes. It is our job as special education teachers to find those strengths and utilize them to the best of their ability.

Tip - The list below is by no means all-inclusive. It is merely a representation or guideline to get you thinking on the right track.

Strengths of the student by character, work habits and academics and classroom behavior

Charactor

Trustworthiness
__ Honest in actions
__ Does not deceive, cheat or steal 
__ Reliable
__ Courageous
__ Loyal to friends 
__ Keeps promises

Respect
__ Treat others with respect
__ Tolerant and accepting of differences
__ Has good manners
__ Does not use bad language
__ Considerate of the feelings of others
__ Does not threaten, hit or hurt anyone
__ Deals with anger, insults, and disagreements peacefully

Responsible

__ Does what they are supposed to do
__ Plans ahead
__ Is diligent
__ Perseveres through challenges
__ Does their best work
__ Uses self-control
__ Is self-disciplined
__ Thinks before acting
__ Is accountable for words and actions

__ Sets a good example for others
__ Chooses a positive attitude

Fairness

__ Plays by the rules
__ Take turns and share
__ Be open-minded; listen to others
__ Don’t take advantage of others
__ Don’t blame others carelessly
__ Treat all people fairly

Caring

__ Is kind
__ Is compassionate
__ Shows Empathy
__ Expresses gratitude
__ Forgives others
__ Helps people in need
__ Is charitable and altruistic

Citizenship

__ Gets involved in school affairs
__ Obeys classroom and school rules
__ Respects authority
__ Protects the environment
__ Volunteers

Work Habits and Academics

__ Organizes materials 
__ Comes prepared to class
__ Turns in work on time
__ Strong work organization skills
__ Follows routines well
__ Keeps track of time and obligations 
__ Understands and sets goals

__ Can plan ahead
__ Is a self-starter
__ Can ignore distractions
__ Flexible thinker
__ Good working memory
__ At grade level work in reading
__ At grade level work in writing
__ At grade level work in math

Classroom Behavior

__ Can learn from mistakes
__ Self-advocates/asks for help
__ Can work or play independently
__ Works well/gets along well one-on-one
__ Works well/gets along well in groups

__ Consistent class participation
__ Accept consequences appropriately
__ Respects property of others 
__ Respects personal space of others 
__ Respects uniqueness of others

Writing concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child section of an IEP

When writing a parent concerns statement, stay on topic "enhancing the education of their child." Only education concerns should be in the IEP. Every other matter can be assigned to someone on the team for resolution or follow up. The invited administrator will have details if district services are available and might want to schedule an additional meeting specific to parent concerns not related to educational enhancement.  

Tip - If there are concerns that are not going to be written in the IEP, make a note of them in the Prior Written Notice. Noting them lets the parent know that that the concern was heard and who will be their point of contact for support.

Sample Statements
Sam's support classes are adequate for supporting and promoting growth towards IEP goals and general education curriculum. However, the 4th period Math class is very disruptive and distracting. Alternative class placement is requested preferably in a co-taught classroom.  Follow up in the Prior Written Notice on how this was resolved.

Writing the results of the student's performance on any general state or district-wide assessments section of an IEP

When writing results of the student's test performance summary, stick to the facts. Parents have already received these scores from the district, and their interpretation is not part of the IEP process. 

Items to include in the summary are:

  1. Include the test name and whether it is National, State or District

  2. The test category

  3. The test score

  4. What level the test score falls under
     

Sample Statement

Sate/National
SBA - ELA 2341 (2288–2486) Achievement Level Scale Score Range for Standard Not Met

SBA - Math 2305 (2265–2503) Achievement Level Scale Score Range for Standard Not Met
 

District
AimsWeb - ELA 434 Well Below Average (1-10 %ile) 
Comparison Group National Score Range 278-453 N-Count 25 (8.6% of students)
 

AimsWeb - Math 183 Well Below Average (1-10 %ile) 
Comparison Group National Score Range 145-197 N-Count 25 (8.6% of students)

Writing the communication needs of the student section of an IEP

Under construction pardon my mess. We will continue to research and write daily.

 

Sample Statements

Does not need service

Sam is not deaf or hard of hearing and does not currently identify as needing language or communication services.


Does need service

Writing the student's assistive technology devices and services needs section of an IEP

Under construction pardon my mess. We will continue to research and write daily.

 

Sample Statements

Does not need service

Sam does not currently identify as a student in need of assistive technology devices or services beyond those that are provided to all general education students.

Does need service

Writing the behavior that impedes learning of the student or others section of an IEP

Under construction pardon my mess. We will continue to research and write daily.

 

Sample Statements

Does not need service

Sam's behavior does not impede learning and that of others and is not currently in need of services in this area.

 

Does need service in this area and behavior intervention pan is attached.
​​

Writing the language needs for student with limited English proficiency section of an IEP

Under construction pardon my mess. We will continue to research and write daily.

 

Sample Statements

Does not need service

Sam does not have limited English proficiency would not require services in this area.

Does need service

Writing the blind or visually impaired section of an IEP

Under construction pardon my mess. We will continue to research and write daily.

 

Sample Statements

Does not need service

Sam does not currently have a visual impairment that is greater than could be accommodated with corrective lenses and would not need additional services in this area.

Does need service

Performance

Writing the general education section of an IEP

What is and how to write a profile of the student's present levels of performance. Present levels of performance is a narrative of the student's performance in several categories. The section talks about the students overall performance, strengths and weaknesses related to academics, behavioral issues and social issues. All items in this category should speak in a team voice that includes all teachers, parents and support team members. A clear picture of the student's present levels will help future teachers and support staff working with the student understand the student's strengths and weaknesses in order to better work with them.​

Tip - If something is mentioned in the present levels as a weakness an IEP goal must be written into the students IEP with a clear plan on how to support and strengthen the student's skills in this area.

Writing the academic section of an IEP

IEP Present Level of Academic & Functional Performance

Inclusive Education Students: Present levels or current academic achievement describe the student's current levels in math, written language, and reading as compared to the grade level peers and standards. The discrepancy between grade level and present level is the skill gap to which IEP goals will be written. An academic review is a general overview and not confused with the more detailed teacher reports later in the IEP. The majority of this section is based on the student's evaluation report or updated evaluation report if it is older due to time in the evaluation cycle.

A present level of academic performance statement will start with and include

  • The ending progress from last years IEP goal

  • New special education assessment findings

  • Performance on district and state assessments, including strengths and needs (the score severity been recorded in a previous section do not include them in your present levels)

  • Classroom grades and observations that will also include behavioral data

  • A statement of progress from the student (opinions and work ethic values as contribute factors to goal progression, the students interpretation)

  • A statement of progress from the parent (behavior and work performance, demonstrated in-home environment)

  • A review of accommodations and assistive technology or services to determine if they are successful or should be removed or modified

For students not focussed on academic skills present levels would include where the student is in relation to daily living skills, independence, home activities and job placement. Skills that are related to where the student's postsecondary goals are aimed. 

Current Functional Performance (non-academic)

  • Daily living routines and activities 

  • Independence skills related to home life and performance at school

  • Home

  • Community

  • Leisure time

  • Post-secondary

  • Life-long learning

  • Motor skills

  • Personal care

  • Time and money

  • School/work habits

  • Home/community orientation

  • Behavior 

  • Interpersonal relationships

Writing the math section of an IEP

Student's present levels of comprehensive performance template depict the present performance levels for an inclusive education student with regular services in either a support class or a resource room environment. It includes data from three key factors to ensure a well balanced and accurate depiction of the student's goal progression. 

Writing Sample Template:

INFORMATION FROM THE EVALUATION (date)

 

TEACHER REPORT: (Strengths/current status in the area of qualification) _______________________

General Education Teacher: _______________________

Current Classroom Grade Summary: _______________________

Teacher Comments: _______________________

Benchmark: AIMSWeb or other District testing

Strengths:​ _______________________

Needs: _______________________

 

IXL or other spiralling diagnostic testing measures:

Numbers and Operations:  _______________________
Algebra & Algebraic Thinking:  _______________________
Fractions:  _______________________
Geometry:  _______________________
Measurement:  _______________________
Data, Statistics and Probability: _______________________

PREVIOUS GOALS/PROGRESS ON PREVIOUS GOALS:
Math (how far and to what level was the student meeting the previous years goal?)
 

Goal #1:  _______________________ (previous goals wrap up review)

 

Progress Report: _______________________ (what parts of the goal can the student do and what are still struggle points?)


Case Manager: _______________________

SDI Developer and Instructor: _______________________


Progress: _______________________

NEW GOAL

RECOMMENDATIONS/BASELINE: _______________________ (insert new goal or continuation of previous goal that has been modified to reflect a higher level or proficiency)

As Measured By: _______________________

Writing the reading section of an IEP

Student's present levels of comprehensive performance template depict the present performance levels for an inclusive education student with regular services in either a support class or a resource room environment. It includes data from three key factors to ensure a well balanced and accurate depiction of the student's goal progression.

 

Reading Sample Template:

INFORMATION FROM THE EVALUATION (date)

 

TEACHER REPORT: (Strengths/current status in the area of qualification) _______________________

General Education Teacher: _______________________

Current Classroom Grade Summary: _______________________

Teacher Comments: _______________________

Benchmark: AIMSWeb or other District testing

Strengths: _______________________

​Needs: _______________________

 

CBM Assessments

CBM Benchmark: _______________________

Word Reading Fluency: _______________________

Passage Reading Fluency: _______________________

VOCAB: _______________________

Multiple-Choice Reading Comprehension: _______________________

Common Core State Standards Reading: _______________________

 

IXL or other spiralling diagnostic testing measures:
Gap reduction and skill refresh category recommendations

 

Reading Strategies:

_______________________

_______________________

Vocabulary:

_______________________

_______________________

PREVIOUS GOALS/PROGRESS ON PREVIOUS GOALS: Reading (how far and to what level was the student meeting the previous years goal?)

Goal #1: When given informational text with a main idea Elizabeth will select the main idea of a text from 3 multiple choice options improving main idea skills from 1/10 grade level work samples out of 10 consecutive trials to 8/10 work samples in 10 consecutive trials as measured by teacher based rubrics, unit test and curriculum assessments

 

Progress Report: _______________________ (what parts of the goal can the student do and what are still struggle points?)

Case Manager: _______________________

SDI Developer and Instructor: _______________________

Progress: _______________________

 

NEW GOAL

RECOMMENDATIONS/BASELINE: _______________________ (insert new goal or continuation of previous goal that has been modified to reflect a higher level or proficiency)

As Measured By: _______________________

Writing the writing section of an IEP

Student's present levels of comprehensive performance template depict the present performance levels for an inclusive education student with regular services in either a support class or a resource room environment. It includes data from three key factors to ensure a well balanced and accurate depiction of the student's goal progression. 

Writing Sample Template:

INFORMATION FROM THE EVALUATION (date)

 

TEACHER REPORT: (Strengths/current status in the area of qualification) _______________________

General Education Teacher: _______________________

Current Classroom Grade Summary: _______________________

Teacher Comments: _______________________

Benchmark: AIMSWeb or other District testing

Strengths:​ _______________________

Needs: _______________________

 

IXL or other spiralling diagnostic testing measures:
Gap reduction and skill refresh category recommendations

Writing Strategies:

_______________________

_______________________
 

Grammar and Mechanics:

_______________________

_______________________

PREVIOUS GOALS/PROGRESS ON PREVIOUS GOALS: Writing (how far and to what level was the student meeting the previous years goal?)

Goal #1:  _______________________ (previous goals wrap up review)

 

Progress Report: _______________________ (what parts of the goal can the student do and what are still struggle points?)

Case Manager: _______________________

SDI Developer and Instructor: _______________________

Progress: _______________________

 

NEW GOAL

RECOMMENDATIONS/BASELINE: _______________________ (insert new goal or continuation of previous goal that has been modified to reflect a higher level or proficiency)

As Measured By: _______________________

Writing the goals section of an IEP

Based on data from present level section a new IEP goal will fall directly after the previous goal.  Extending and elevating the skill level or learning progression to a new skill.  Find IEP goals here

Goal format most commonly used for a SMART goals:  

 

By (date) when given (problems with number counting) the student will understand that the last number name said tells the number of objects counted. The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted (e.g. How many triangles in the set? or Put 3 bears in the circle.) improving counting and cardinality skills from 0/10 work samples out of ten consecutive trials to 8/10 work samples in ten consecutive trials.

When Given

What will the student be provided to successfully demonstrate the desired skill?  This information written into the gaol allows everyone reading to know how to set up the materials and how it will be measured.  Here are a few idea for how to write a given statement for a student math or reading IEP goal.

__ a short 3-5 sentence passage at reading level

__ short passage and multiple-choice answer options
__ (4) multiple choice options 
__ a fill in the blank option
__ (partially filled) graphic organizer

__ (blank) graphic organizer
__ (detailed list) written steps 

__ (personal notes) written steps

__ (written sentence) written steps
__ a (20) piece task box

Writing the related services section of an IEP

Related services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech services is a collaboration opportunity in the IEP writing process. The related service provider will be responsible for contributions to the present levels of performance and participate in the IEP meeting if possible. If there are additional service providers for a student the meeting invitation should always include related services providers and inexcusable notice approved by the family if they are not able to attend. Service providers will also be responsible for setting IEP goals in that service area.

Writing the least restrictive environment section of an IEP

Creating a school program in the least restrictive environments for student ensures that they are getting an appropriate class schedule with as much flexibility and inclusion as possible. These combinations can include co-teaching where there is one general education and one special education teacher, support classes 12:1 ratio, but based on your district. There may be many, many more options. Enclosed classroom environments are cases where a student will spend the majority of their time in a single classroom. However, it is important for students case manager to not overlook opportunities for general education integration whenever possible.

Tip - Co-taught classroom can have many models associated to them, but the most important one is the ratio of general education students to special education students. A 30% to 40% ratio of students in the class can have an IEP as a general standard. Different districts view the percentages differently and it is important to ask what model your district supports when constructing a student schedule to include a co-taught class.

Writing the accommodations and modification section of an IEP

Identifying the types of accommodations or modifications, the student needs in order to be academically, behaviorally and socially successful is a very important portion of the IEP process. Accommodations and modifications have a very different purpose and are often overused by case managers when writing a piece. Is important to understand that a accommodation is to assist the student and should have a gradual release of responsibility plan associated to it. Modifications would be handled similarly with a gradual release of responsibility or level of modification.


Comment on accommodations could include extended time, separate location, questions read aloud or directions read aloud to the student. 

 

An accommodation justification statement will be written into the present levels of performance in conjunction with a student need such as an IEP goal. Accommodation justification statement will include what the accommodation is such as extended time, when it can be used, and finally the amount of time to be extended.

Example statement: Due to factors directly related to Sam's specific learning disability extended time on state and local exams will be extended to time and a half to allow for additional processing time and frequent breaks not to exceed five minutes per thirty minutes of test time.

Example statement: Due to factors directly related to Sam's specific learning disability and test anxiety a separate location for state and local exams with a duration of greater than one hour will be provided in a room with no less than 12 students. This accommodation does not extend to generally education classroom tests with the duration of less than one hour.

Caution – The most overused or misused accommodation is the use of a calculator. The use of a calculator should always come with the caveat that it is not to be used when it could impede the learning of new skills.

Writing the prior written notice section of an IEP

Sample narrative for basic IEP renewal


Description of the proposed or refused action: Initiate IEP developed on 01/10/2021
 

The reason we are proposing or refusing to take action: IEP was due for review and amendment for the coming year support
 

Description of any other options considered and rejected: Options considered and rejected were that Sam stay placed in a general education non-co-taught math class with the addition of support class.
 

The reasons we rejected those options were: The rejected reason was that in a non-co-taught class Sam was easily distracted and feels that a co-taught class with 2 teachers would provide the support and redirection needed to be successful.
 

A description of each procedure, test, record, or report used or is planned to be used as a basis for action: Current evaluation, class progress reports, winter benchmark testing and teacher/parent comments were all used as a basis for these actions.
Any other factors that are relevant to the action: No other factors were relevant to the action.