What is an IEP?

An IEP – or Individualized Education Program – is a term used to describe the official documentation of special education services that will be provided for your child as well as the meeting where these services are determined. Here are some key points to help you become more familiar with an IEP:


The IEP is:

  • A meeting where parents, students when appropriate, and school personnel jointly make decisions about an educational program for a student with a disability

  • A document that is a written record of the decisions reached at the meeting for a student who will receive special education and related services

  • A management tool used to implement an educational program

The IEP has a number of purposes and functions:

  • The IEP meeting serves as a communication opportunity between parents and educators and enables them, as equal participants, to jointly decide what the student’s needs are, what services will be provided to meet those needs, and what the anticipated outcomes may be.

  • The IEP process provides an opportunity for resolving any differences between the parents and the school concerning the special education needs of a student with a disability – first, through the IEP meeting, and second, if necessary, through the procedural protections that are available to parents.

  • The IEP sets forth in writing a commitment to provide services and resources necessary to enable a student with a disability to receive needed special education services.

The IEP is not:

  • A daily lesson plan, but it does cover an entire year.

  • An evaluation report. An evaluation report describes your child’s strengths and needs. The information from an evaluation report is used to help write the IEP.

  • A contract. It does describe things you and the school have agreed to do for your child, but it cannot guarantee that all the special help will be successful.

  • A comprehensive curriculum. It relates to special considerations within your child’s overall education.

Timeless. As your child grows and learns and changes, the IEP will need to reflect these changes.