What Is the Average Time To Spend Writing an IEP? | TeachTastic
Updated: May 17
In a recent national survey, 55 participants were asked, on average, how long it took them to write an IEP. What we discovered was that there were three types of IEP writers. There are the minimalists, the detail-oriented and organized, and the over the toppers or new teachers. Each teacher described their writing process and how they organized to provide individualized and detailed IEP’s for their students. Each keeping in mind the time investment and how districts compensate for caseload management.
To answer the question "How long does it take to write an IEP? There needed to be a few factors discussed and a good survey panel before giving hard facts.
Districts average for an IEP is between 1 to 2.5 hours of pay and that includes the writing and the iep meeting time.
Iep Writing Traits of a Minimalist Case Manager
Here is a note from one of our special education teacher participants that we can gain some good takeaways from.
Michelle LR writes that a new-to-you or brand new IEP will take hours. But, if it is an annual IEP that she wrote last year, it doesn't take long to update the present levels and goals and proof the rest. She also includes that it is hard to know how much time was spent, because she usually does it in spurts--20 minutes during my prep time, 15 minutes until the staff meeting starts, again the next day when she can, then finishes at home.
J Martin writes that she created a word doc with all the generic blurb and descriptions she might or has included in the past. She goes through the online systems and makes her personalized notes. It has saved so much time.
B Hanson writes that she also has a phrase bank that she uses and includes terms or paragraphs from other Special Education Teachers or School Psychologists that she likes and would like to remember and add in her writing.
The average time to spend writing an IEP is difficult to estimate, as different people work differently and in different ways. However, some tips from special education teachers include having a minimalist case manager approach, using a word doc with generic blurb and descriptions, and using a phrase bank. This can save time in the long run.
There is no harm in reusing when someone else said it better!
Common Phrases for a Special Education Teacher When Writing Ieps
Every special education teacher has a particular writing style that is individual to them. But if looked at carefully, those unique styles form patterns. Specific phrases that you often use to describe the situation are reused and personalized to the student as needed. You don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you write an IEP. Create a document of phrases that you use often and have them on the ready when writing time comes. You will write half as much but still give the student's IEP the individualized it deserves.
Writing Templates and Phrases for Student Strengths
Looking to help your students shine through strengths-based ieps? Student strength lists can help! This guide walks teachers through the process of writing clear and positive student strengths narratives. From student work habits (work independently) to academics (reading comprehension), every area of a child's development can be highlighted using this easy-to-use, step-by-step guide. Make your narratives shine with a student strength lists guide!
Student Strengths Statement Framework
When writing a profile of the student's strengths, think about the child as a whole.
What are the strengths that make the student academically successful?
What are the strengths that the student has that make them socially adaptable or socially accepted?
Writing Templates and Sample Phrases for Adverse Impact Statements
Logan's specific learning disability impacts academic progress in all areas of the general education program. There are significant learning struggles in the areas of reading skills that will require specially designed instruction.
Logan's health impairment impacts academic progress in all areas of the general education program. There are significant learning struggles in the areas of math and social/behavior skills that will require specially designed instruction.
Writing Templates and Sample Phrases for General and Academic
Logan's student academic character profile reflects many (22) absences and five (vulgar language) behavior/discipline referrals unrelated to attendance with general work habits showing more than 10 missing assignments.
Math current unit assessment grades are reported at a proficiency level 2
=> Elaborate further details here
English Language Art grades are reported at a proficiency level 2.5
=>Elaborate further details here
These grades can reflect attendance and student motivation more than a measure of present levels of performance. Please see specific categories for more accurate findings of skill mastery and skill growth.
Jenny is helpful in class and eager to learn new concepts. When working towards an IEP goal, she has a growth mindset and perseveres through challenges.
José is caring and kind and demonstrates loyalty in friendship. When working towards an IEP goal, he is curious about new material and is open to new ideas.
Jenny actively participates in class discussions and engages well in peer-to-peer workgroups. When working towards an IEP goal, she will ask for help when needed and accept help when offered.
José follows classroom rules and expectations and actively participates in table groups. When working in the classroom, he will accept help when offered if it is done quietly.
For a full list of narrative samples to copy and use in your ieps, click here
Communication needs of the student:
Logan is not deaf or hard of hearing and does not currently identify as needing language or communication services.
Logan is deaf or hard of hearing and does currently identify as needing language or communication services. =>Elaborate further details here
Assistive Technology needs of the student:
Logan 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.
Logan does currently identify as a student in need of assistive technology devices or services beyond those that are provided to all general education students. =>Elaborate further details here
Behavior that impedes learning of the student or others:
behavior does not impede learning or that of others and is not currently in need of services in this area.
behavior can impede learning and that of others but is not currently in need of services in this area. Current working strategies are through PBIS methods and would not warrant a formalized behavior intervention plan (BIP). =>Elaborate further details here
behavior does impede learning and that of others and is currently in need of services in this area. =>Elaborate further details here including BIP
Language needs for students with Limited English Proficiency :
does not have limited English proficiency and would not require services in this area.
does have limited English proficiency and would require services in this area. =>Elaborate further details here
Blind or visually impaired:
is not blind or has a visual impairment beyond the need for eyeglasses or corrective lenses and would not be considered a student requiring services in this area.
is blind or has a visual impairment beyond the need for eyeglasses or corrective lenses and would be considered a student requiring services in this area. =>Elaborate further details here
How to Write All Your IEPs in 20 Minutes a Day
Taking 20 minutes every day to update your student's IEP binders can save hours in the long run. Whether you are adding PLOPs data or the new district benchmark test results, it will all add up in the end to a well-formed IEP that is ready to copy and paste sections or type if handwritten.
How to Shorten the Writing Time of Your IEPs With Voice Recognition Software
I have used Dragon Speak to narrate all my IEPs into the system for years. I save so much time on typing and editing that it's totally worth the money I spent on it. It speeds up my writing process since I don't have to type everything myself, and I can spend less time on each part of the work.
You can use voice recognition software to allow the computer to understand every word or phrase you say. It will save you hours of typing out current levels and goal justification statements that just need minor editing before printing.
IEP Writing Traits of the Detail-oriented and Organized Case Manager
M Pine ~ takes charge of her 2 hours start to finish the program. She states that she has a binder with all of her student's curriculum-based assessments for reading, writing, and math, with a cover page in each area with the standards and their scores of those curriculum-based assessments. With that level of organization, it made it easy to write the present level and figure out what they were ready to learn next.
ML Magdalera ~ plans ahead with her IEP averaging 2 hours with the help of a copy and pasted doc for the essential things and a go-to goal bank that she likes to use for high school diploma-bound SPED kids.
E Hickey ~ make a good point when she included it also depends on your district. She is required to write extremely specific and detailed present levels. It takes about 2-4 hours depending on the needs of the student. Her former district was not as thorough (picky) and it took about an hour for an annual.
Special education teachers have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to their students and the writing process. No two teachers write in the same way, but many follow similar patterns that can save time. Whether you use phrase banks, compile data, or simply take 20 minutes every day to update your student's binders, you will be able to produce quality IEPs with less effort.
When it comes time for the annual IEP meeting, having all of your data compiled and ready to present will make the process smoother for everyone involved. District officials will appreciate seeing where your student is academically and behaviorally compared to last year, and you'll have peace of mind knowing that everything is organized and ready to go.
7 Basic Steps to Writing an IEP
Gather data to support present levels and current goals
Draft present levels statements for all qualifying categories
Draft goals based on next grade/skill level requirements (this applies to nonacademic goals as well)
Write justification statements for new goals (how do they align with student's future transition plan)
Create a timeline for goal attainment with objectives
edit IEP to include changes that resulted from the IEP meeting
Finalize IEP with a prior written notice letter