How to Write an IEP | Teach Tastic IEPs

Updated: Apr 28

If you are a special education teacher or iep team member who wants to know how to write a great individualized education program (IEP). Then you are in the right place.

As a special education teacher, you know that writing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) is an important part of your job.


But did you know that there are tools and materials available to make this process easier and faster?


If you are a special education teacher or iep team member who wants to know how to write a great individualized education program (IEP). Then you are in the right place.

As a special education teacher, you know that writing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) is an important part of your job.

But did you know that there are tools and materials available to make this process easier and faster?

Our full-length guide offers text examples for easy use in your own IEPs or as a time-saving framework to individualize for your students. This simple guide can cut your individualized education program writing time in half.

  • Become more efficient when writing an IEP

  • Eliminate hours of work when creating a new IEP from scratch by using our guide

  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to find appropriate examples for your student's individual needs

  • Spend less time on research and content creation

See full length guide here


Before an IEP can take place Special education teachers should be aware of the process that goes into determining if a child is eligible for services.


Eligibility for Special Education

How a Student Qualifies for Special Education Services

First, a child must meet the criteria for one of the 13 disability categories recognized by the IDEA.


Then, there must be an educational need that cannot be met with general education services.


The third step is to identify the “ nature and severity” of the child’s disability.

The fourth step is to determine if the child needs special education services to receive a FAPE.


What is a FAPE?

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is a right guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

FAPE refers to a range of services and supports that are designed to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities.


Writing an IEP

After Student Qualification Has Been Established

As a special education teacher, you know the importance of writing an IEP for each of your students. An IEP lays out all of the student’s needs and services, and it’s up to you to follow special education law and district rules when creating them.


Here are the common parts of an IEP – make sure they are all included in your students’ plans!


IEP Sections and Workflow

This portion will provide an overview of the sections and workflow for writing an IEP. An IEP is a legal document that outlines all of the student's needs, services, and accommodations. It is usually written by special education teachers in conjunction with parents/guardians/caregivers, but can also be written by administrators or other educators.


Student’s Information

In the first portion of the IEP, you will want to include all pertinent information about the student. This includes name, age, grade level, as well as demographic information such as sex and race.


Planning

Strengths of the student

In this section, you will want to discuss the student’s strengths. This information can come from various sources such as formal assessments or teacher observations.


How do I write the strengths of the student and the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child section of an IEP?


Parent Concerns

In this section, you will want to address any concerns that the parents have. Example text and instruction


Assessment Results

In this section, you will want to include all of the student’s assessment results. This includes academic assessments as well as any assessments related to the disability category.


Communication needs

If the student has communication needs, you will want to outline them in this section. This may include information about how the student communicates, their level of understanding, and any other relevant information.


Behavioral Needs

If the student has behavioral needs, you will want to outline them in this section. This may include information such as triggers, coping mechanisms, and any other relevant information.


Assistive Technology

If the student requires assistive technology in order to participate in school, you will want to outline that in this section. This may include information such as the type of technology needed and how it will be used.

Language Needs

If the student has language needs, you will want to outline them in this section. This may include information such as how the student’s language ability is measured, their language goals, and any other relevant information.


Education Program

In this section, you will want to outline the student’s current education program. This should include information about the inclusion level or special education classroom, related services, and any other relevant information.


Placement

In this section, you will want to discuss the student’s proposed placement. This may include a discussion of the student’s current placement, any proposed changes, and the reasons for those changes.


Related Services

In this section, you will want to discuss the student’s related services. This should include information about the type of service, the frequency of service, and any other relevant information


Services and Accommodations

After providing information about the student, you will want to list the services they receive in school. Services can include special education teachers or paraprofessionals, speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, and other related services. It is important to list the frequency of these services as well as who will be providing them (for example, if a student sees their special education teacher 3 times a week for reading instruction, then that should be listed).


Accommodations can include preferential seating in the classroom, use of an electronic device, an alternative assignment, etc. In many cases, accommodations will need to be provided in order for the student to access the core curriculum or to take part in the districtwide assessment such as required testing or end-of-course exams.


Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance

In this portion of the IEP, you will want to assess the student's academic and functional performance. The teacher should have a clear understanding of how well they are performing in school from both an academic standpoint as well as a behavioral/social aspect. Academic abilities can be broken down into specific subjects or just more general categories such as reading, math, and written expression. Functional abilities refer to things such as social skills, self-care, and daily living skills. Demographic information is also included in this section with the student's present levels of academic and functional performance.


Goals and Objectives

Once you have a clear understanding of how well your students are currently performing, it is time to set goals and objectives. These terms can be used interchangeably, so it is up to the individual team to decide what labels they would like to use. Since these terms are often used interchangeably, I will briefly describe each term below so that you understand each category.


Goals are statements that indicate what students should be able to do in order to show mastery of a standard or benchmark. Goals should be stated as statements and include the year and grade level at which they will be completed. Some examples of goals are "By the end of 3rd grade, Jane will read on a 5th-grade reading level." or "By next year, Bobby will have functional bowel control so that he is able to wear underpants instead of a diaper."


Objectives are steps taken in order to achieve a goal. Objectives should be stated as behaviors and should use action words and be observable (for example "is able to" or "will"). Some examples of objectives are: "By the end of the semester, Jane will read on a 5th-grade reading level." "By the end of the semester, Bobby will be able to introduce himself to three new people."


Progress Reporting and Evaluation

Progress reports and evaluations should take place at least once a year in order to determine whether or not the student is making adequate progress towards their goals and objectives. The team will need to make modifications to the IEP if they see that it needs to be changed.


When students show significant improvement, they can often move through an age-appropriate grade level. This should be considered by the team when determining if a student has made adequate yearly progress towards their goals.


Ways to Collect Data for Progress Reports

  1. Daily Report Card

  2. Daily Feedback Sheet (for students who struggle to attend to tasks)

  3. Behavior Plan

  4. IEP Goal Tracking

Limitations/Restrictions

The team compiles a list of any restrictions or limitations that the student may have in order to show how they will be educated in the least restrictive environment possible. There are many factors that impact this decision, so it is important for the team to list everything relevant. For example, an individualized education program might state that the student can not be included in any classroom activities for more than 5 minutes at a time if they are likely to destroy property.


Least Restrictive Environment

The final section of the IEP states that students should be educated in the least restrictive environment possible. The team will need to provide specific examples of how this can be done so that the student is not isolated from their peers. Some examples include mainstreaming, the use of an augmentative communication device, peer-mediated support, or specialized instruction with a paraprofessional.


Least Restrictive Environment Hierarchy List

A teacher's guide to the Least Restrictive Environment Hierarchy for students in special education.


This guide is designed to help teachers identify and provide the most appropriate educational setting for each student with special needs.

The ultimate goal of special education is to ensure that all students receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible.

  1. General education classroom with General Education support.

  2. General education classroom with Paraeducator support.

  3. General education classroom with Special Education support (Co-Taught).

  4. Partial mainstream or inclusion classroom.

  5. Special education resource classroom.

  6. Self-contained classroom.

  7. Out of district specialized program.

Parental, or Guardian, Consent

When writing an iep parent involvement is important. Getting their content is important when making a decision that affects their child.


Takeaway Thoughts

If you are a parent of a child with an IEP, it is important that you read and understand the document so that you can be an active participant in your child's education. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask your child's teacher or school administrator. The team who created your child's IEP wants what's best for them, and they will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

If you are a teacher or administrator working with students who have IEPs, make sure to familiarize yourself with the document so that you can provide the appropriate level of support. Remember, these students need as much help as they can get in order to succeed in school. Make sure to collect data on how well they are performing, and if the goals need to be changed make sure to let your team know.


If you have any questions or concerns about writing an IEP, it is advised to contact a special education attorney who can help with the process.

It should be noted that each state has its own laws and regulations pertaining to the content and writing of an IEP. The above is meant to serve as a general guide in terms of content and language used during the writing process.

Thank you to all the special education teachers who take the time to read my blog. I truly appreciate it! I know that you are busy, and I really appreciate your feedback on what other topic you would like to hear more about.

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