Top 8 Parts of an Individual Education Program (IEP)

An IEP should include goals and special ed services to be provided.

The IEP is the basic component of every special education program for children with learning disorders and other types of disabilities. The parts of the IEP are like a road map, establishing where your child is, where you want her to go, and how she will get there.

Improve your understanding of the minimum requirements that the federal IDEA law specifies an IEP must contain.

A Child's Current Skill Level

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Every IEP must include a description of the child's skills in all areas of concern and explain how the disability affects his ​progress in the general education curriculum. Statements address academics, life skills, physical functioning, social and behavioral skills and any other areas of concern affecting the child's ability to learn.

IEP teams typically use formal assessments to determine the child's functioning and establish a baseline of performance. The team may also use anecdotal information and progress data from the child's classroom teachers to further describe the child's skills.

Statements of Measurable Annual Goals

The IEP must contain information about a child's goals, and these goals need to be updated at least annually. Goal statements specify what a child is expected to learn in the coming year and includes academic skills, as well as sometimes functional skills.

For children who participate in functional skills programs and who take alternate assessments, the IEP must also contain measurable short-term objectives that will be used to measure the child's progress towards reaching his annual goals.

How a Child's Progress Will Be Tracked

The IEP must contain an explanation of how progress toward goals and objectives will be measured and describe how that information will be reported to parents. This gives parents a clear idea of how their child's advancements will be evaluated.

Special Education Services a Child Will Receive

The IEP must include a description of the student's special education program, specially designed instruction, and related services the child will receive to help him meet his educational goals. The length of time and the location where he will receive services must also be described.

How Children Will Participate in Mainstream Classrooms

To ensure that children are educated in the least restrictive environment to the greatest extent appropriate, the IEP team must consider if and how the child will participate in the general education program with children in mainstream classrooms. The IEP must specify the amount of time a child will participate in mainstream education programs and explain the rationale for that decision.

Testing Adaptations and Modifications

The IEP must explain what types of ​testing adaptations and modifications will be used for the student, and why they are necessary. If the child will participate in alternate assessments, the rationale for that decision must be included in the IEP.

Amount and Duration of Services Children Will Receive

The IEP must include a projected beginning and end date of services, the frequency of the services, and where they will be delivered.

Statement of Transition - Preparations for Adult Life and Independence

No later than a child's 16th birthday, an IEP must include measurable goals for the student's anticipated postsecondary program and a description of the services needed for the child to reach those goals.

Transitional goals and services should focus on instruction and support services needed to help the child move from the school environment and into a job, vocational program, or other program designed to promote independent living. The goals should also prepare a student to advocate for herself in college.


U.S. Department of Education. Topic: Individualized Education Program. 

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