Every parent wants their child to succeed academically. When students don’t have access to the resources they need, they may struggle in school. An individualized educational plan (IEP) may be an option for students with different disabilities. IEPs clearly lays out your child’s path to academic success.
What is an IEP?
An IEP is an individualized education program. This refers to a plan that defines the classroom instruction, support resources, and services that students with a disability need to attend school. Many people may be involved in making an IEP, including school teachers and staff, parents and guardians, child care providers, and any specialists involved in the child’s care. In addition to the individual needs of a student, an IEP must also follow all state and federal laws.
An IEP is designed for students between the ages of 3-21 years. However, it may be called something different for younger students. Students who are of preschool age, between the ages of three and five, with a disability may be eligible for an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
Who Uses an IEP?
IEPs are used by teachers and caregivers to provide a student with a disability the resources they need when attending school. IEPs are beneficial for students of all ages, including preschool and head start programs. They are also beneficial for children attending a private childcare center. Any child with a disability can benefit from an IEP.
What’s Included in an IEP?
An IEP defines a student’s educational goals and necessary resources. It includes things like:
- The services the child will receive.
- The specific goals the child will work toward.
- Available resources that the child can utilize.
- A list of accommodations the child can access.
The goals and resources that a student may need can change from year to year. The contents of an IEP may be adjusted annually based on the child’s condition and progress toward their goals.
How Do I Set Up an IEP in Illinois?
No two IEPs are the same because each plan is based on the student’s specific academic goals and learning capabilities. You can set up an IEP in Illinois with the following steps:
Determine the Child’s Eligibility
The first step in creating an IEP is to determine the child’s eligibility. The state of Illinois requires IEP students to have a disability, which may include conditions like an intellectual disability, hearing impairment, speech or language impairment, or visual impairment. The IEP team determines if the child qualifies for an IEP and may use information from academic tests, functional performance, teacher recommendations, or physical condition.
In addition to having a disability, the state of Illinois also requires the disability to affect the student’s educational performance and require special education services. Parents may use outside resources to help them determine a child’s eligibility.
Hold a Meeting With All Caregivers
Holding a meeting allows all staff and parents to be involved in the IEP process. Invite everyone involved with the child’s care to the meeting. In some cases, an IEP meeting may also include the student. It’s best to hold an IEP meeting as soon as possible following eligibility determination.
Some school districts may choose to hold two separate meetings. The first meeting must be held within 30 days of the student’s determination of eligibility. The second meeting must be held within 60 days of the parent’s signature consenting to the IEP following the first meeting.
Working toward goals is an important part of an IEP. During the meeting, the team considers short- and long-term goals. They may also take into consideration feedback from the child. In addition to setting goals and creating a goal statement, the IEP should also include:
- Details on how progress will be measured.
- Information on how parents and other caregiver team members will be notified of progress.
- Suggestions on how often goals should be reevaluated.
- A log sheet, which is used to review and track progress annually.
Once the team has a good idea of the goals, they should discuss and identify any necessary resources. The resources will vary, depending on the student’s goals and needs. A few types of resources may include:
- Linguistic accommodations.
- Cultural accommodations.
- Supplementary aids.
- Testing assistance.
- Hearing assistance.
- Braille resources.
- Subject tutors.
- Assessment accommodations.
This section should also include instructions on how the student will receive academic lessons. This may include general education without assistance, general education with supplementary aids, special education services, or general education with the assistance of outside sources.
This is described using an educational environment (EE) calculation. The EE calculation calculates bell to bell minutes, which refers to the total time spent in school. It also factors in the number of minutes spent outside of general education.
In addition to creating an IEP, it’s also important to identify any challenges that the student may have when working toward their goals. This may include behavioral concerns or environmental factors that affect academic performance. Additional plans and paperwork may be necessary for these challenges.
If a child is experiencing behavioral concerns, the team may decide to fill out an IEP behavioral intervention plan. This plan works along with the IEP but also defines which specific behaviors are impeding academic progress and the student’s strengths that can be utilized to overcome them.
After the IEP meeting, the district files an official copy. They also provide the parents and any caregivers with a copy of the plan. The IEP team is also required to meet annually to review progress toward established goals and to decide if any new resources or goals should be added to the plan.
At the completion of the student’s academic career, the IEP team will complete a summary of performance (SOP) form for the student. This SOP form removes the child from the program and measures their progress toward the plan’s initial goals. It also includes a section based on the student’s perspective.
Providing your child with the assistance and resources they need is the best way to help them learn. While IEPs are not typically a part of college, creating an IEP in primary education can help students learn the skills they need for college.
Contact NeuroHealth to Get Started in the IEP Process
If you think your child may be eligible for and benefit from an IEP, it’s time to get in touch with the experts. Our team at NeuroHealth can help you and your child get a clear diagnosis, as well as assist in the IEP setup and maintenance process! Contact us online or give us a call at (847) 584-1671 to get an appointment scheduled.