An IEP or Individualized Education Program is a plan from a school that details what programs and additional support it plans to offer to students with special needs. An IEP may be a great idea for a student with special needs if it seems that they need further specialized education services.

To determine if a student legally qualifies for an IEP they must meet two different criteria. First, the student must be identified officially as a “student with a disability” outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Secondly, the student’s school team must determine if the student requires special education to progress through school. The two are not always both true, so conduct additional research to help you understand the difference and consider if your student qualifies for an IEP.

These plans are developed and reviewed at IEP Meetings on an annual basis. If you’re a parent that is new to the process of IEP’s, it’s important that all relevant educational members attend along with you and your child (if appropriate). It is also important for you to know that you can call an IEP meeting at anytime and the school district will hold the meeting within 30 days- you don’t have to wait a whole year if you have concerns!

As a parent of a student with special needs, it’s critical that the central focus of the meeting is your child as an individual. As technology progresses and laws change, IEP meetings serve as a point to evaluate the current performance of the plan and suggest improvements to better your child’s learning.

At times, Individualized Education Programs can be overwhelming to navigate, but with the proper preparation they can be highly beneficial to the development of students with special needs.