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Understanding individualized education programs

by | Aug 13, 2015 | Education

Children with specialized learning needs may be eligible for special services provided in public schools. Parents of students with special needs often work closely with educators and even outside therapists to develop plans to give their children the best opportunity to succeed at school.

Individualized education programs, or IEPs, is a term used to describe the goals educators and parents establish for children to ensure those youngsters’ achieve academic success. Required under a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), IEPs serve as legal documents that spell out kids’ learning needs and the services the school will provide to meet those needs. IEPs also may include information on how progress will be measured and documented. Roughly 13 percent of students in the United States participate in IEPs.

IEPs can include a variety of information and education models. An IEP may include:

• the child’s present level of performance;

• educational goals;

• what the school will provide to help the student reach goals;

• modifications and accommodations the school will adhere to;

• any accommodations that will be offered during standardized testing;

• timelines of when progress will be measured.

Students must be evaluated to determine their IEP eligibility. Professionals may diagnose students with specific learning disabilities. Such a diagnosis is made outside the school and then discussed with school personnel. School counselors or psychologists may give children various tests and observe them in the classroom setting.

After an evaluation has been completed, the IEP team, including parents and school officials, will determine if a student qualifies for an IEP. Parents must consent to an IEP before it is implemented. Many students with ADHD, autism, hearing impairment, dyslexia, cognitive challenges, and developmental delays benefit from IEPs.

It’s important for parents to maintain frequent contact with teachers to ensure the IEP is being followed and to get periodic progress reports. Concerns may require another IEP meeting, and changes can be discussed during such meetings. IEPs are typically subject to annual reviews, and if the child isn’t making progress, certain components of the IEP may be revised.

Individualized education programs can be a great opportunity for children with special learning needs to fulfill their potential. Parents who would like to have their children evaluated should make an appointment with their child’s school to discuss the next steps.

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