What is an IEP and What Does IEP Stand For | TeachTastic

Updated: May 20

What does IEP stand for?

IEP is one of the special education acronyms for Individualized Education Plan or Program (IEP). The IEP is a plan for Students with disabilities' academic success. Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document.

You may be wondering what an IEP is and how it can benefit your child. An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is a plan developed by a team of educators, parents, and other professionals to meet the unique needs of a student with disabilities. The benefits of having an IEP include customized instruction and support based on the student's individual needs, yearly review and revision of the IEP as needed, and access to special education services and accommodations. If you think your child may have a qualifying disability and benefit from an IEP, you can request one from your child's school district. A team of professionals will then conduct an evaluation to determine if the student is eligible for special education services.

Other information you might find helpful

A Guide to the Individualized Education Program

What is an IEP?

IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. An IEP is federally mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is a legally binding document that is created for children with disabilities that receive special education services.

IEPs are designed to make sure that children with disabilities have access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This means that they are entitled to receive an education in the least restrictive environment similar to what their nondisabled peers are receiving. The process of creating an IEP is called a "plan of evaluation."

Qualifying areas of an IEP

In order to be eligible for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), a student must first be evaluated and found to have a disability that affects their ability to learn. There are 13 eligibility categories for an IEP, which are listed below.

Autism: A developmental disability that significantly impacts social interaction and communication skills.

Deaf-Blindness: A combination of hearing and vision impairments that make it difficult to communicate and learn.

Deafness: A hearing impairment that makes it difficult to understand spoken language.

Emotional Disturbance: A condition that affects a student's ability to learns as a result of anxiety, depression, or other behavioral issues.

Hearing Impairment: A hearing impairment that makes it difficult to understand spoken language.

Intellectual Disability: A cognitive impairment that impact's a student's ability to learn and function in daily life.

Multiple Disabilities: Two or more disabilities that impact the student's ability to learn, such as deafness and blindness.

Orthopedic Impairment: A physical disability that limits the use of one or more limbs.

Other Health Impairment: A chronic or acute health condition that affects the student's ability to learn.

Specific Learning Disability: A difficulty with one or more specific areas of learning, such as reading, writing, or math.

Speech or Language Impairment: A communication disorder that makes it difficult to understand or express spoken language.

Traumatic Brain Injury: An injury to the brain that affects the student's ability to learn.

Visual Impairment: A visual impairment that makes it difficult to see and understand written language.

Why is an IEP Important

An IEP is important because it ensures that students with disabilities receive the supports and services they need. It also provides a framework for educators to individualize instruction and accommodations to meet the student's unique needs. The Individualized Education Program (Plan), or IEP, is an agreement between school districts, administrators, parents, teachers, related services personnel, special education professionals or related services personnel, and students, to ensure that students who have certain disabilities receive specialized instruction and related services that meet their identified needs.

How is an IEP Created?

An IEP is created by a team of professionals that includes the student's parents, educators, and other specialists. The team meets to discuss the student's strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Based on this information, the team creates a plan of action that outlines the student's goals, services, and support.

The IEP team reviews the student's progress at least once per year and makes changes to the plan as needed. Each year, the IEP is also reviewed and updated by the student's teachers or other professionals.

What is Included in an IEP?

An IEP includes a variety of information, such as the student's present level of academic achievement and functional skills, as well as any special educational and related services the student may need. This can include assistive technology, behavior plans, and language support for a student who is not an English first language learner. The list goes on but our purposes will conclude here.

How often is an IEP updated?

IEPs must be reviewed and updated at least once a year to make sure the student's goals are still appropriate and the student is making adequate yearly progress. They can be reviewed more often if there are changes in the child's educational needs or placement.

What are IEP Goals?

The IEP team comes together to develop an IEP that meets the unique needs of the child. IEP discusses the student's strengths and needs and then uses this information to create goals for the student.

IEP goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This means that each goal should be clearly defined so that it can be easily measured.

An IEP goal is a statement of what the student will be able to do as a result of receiving special education services. For example, a student's goal for reading may be to read at a first-grade level by the end of the school year. IEP goals must be measurable and include a plan for how the student will achieve the goal.

IEP goals should also be achievable so that the student can realistically accomplish them within a certain timeframe.