Understanding the IEP

  • The Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a formalized plan for providing educational services to a special needs student. The plan is created by a team which includes (but is not limited to) the special education case provider, the parent/guardian, the student, the general education teacher(s), the school administration and any ancillary service providers. Below you will find a description of each section of the IEP form.

    Background Information

    The first part of the IEP provides important information about the student including his/her home address, parent/guardian information, birth date, date of last IEP, etc. This information should be double-checked for accuracy.

    Purpose of the IEP

    An IEP meeting is typically held for one of the following reasons:
    • Determine initial eligibility
    • Review or revise an existing IEP
    • Re-evaluation
    Additional IEPs can be held when students are making a transition, there are issues that need to be addressed, or at the parent's request.

    IEP Participants

    All IEP team members must sign-in to verify that they were in attendance at the meeting. This signature does not indicate agreement with the IEP; it simply acknowledges attendance.


    This section of the IEP indicates the student's disability. The disability that has the greatest impact on the student's academic performance will be listed as the primary eligibility. Secondary eligibility can also be listed in this section, if appropriate. 

    Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

    This section provides a checklist of items to be discussed by the team members in order to determine the student's current status and plan for goals and/or accommodations. This is where the IEP chairperson will record the parent concerns, student strengths, and any specific issues that will need to be addressed in the IEP (such as Braille services for the visually impaired). 

    Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (FLAAFP)

    This section of the IEP includes a very specific statement about how the student's disability affects his/her involvement in the general education curriculum. The statement will include current data (including testing results) that indicate the student's needs.


    For students who are over the age of 14, there is a transition page in the IEP that addresses the student's post-secondary goals. Plans are outlined within the IEP to prepare students for their lives beyond school.

    Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

    This portion of the IEP indicates to what extent the student will participate with the general education students in the general education curriculum. This section includes information about extra-curricular activities.

    Supplementary Aids / Services / Personnel Supports

    This area indicates the accommodation plan for the student (if appropriate) as well as any consult services. The services are listed with information regarding frequency and location of services. 

    Annual Goals and Short-Term Objectives

    The goal pages in the IEP will directly correlate to the items of concern in the student's PLAAFP. If the student's disability is impeding advancement in the curriculum, a goal will be established to address that concern. The goals and objectives are realistic, attainable, measurable and challenging. Goals are typically established for each academic year. As a student masters a skill, the goals will be updated in order to encourage student progression.

    Special Education Programs and Related Services

    This section of the IEP indicates the direct services provided to the student. Services that might be listed here include resource room, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, etc. The services are listed with information regarding frequency and location of services.


    This area of the IEP addresses the needs of students who require specialized transportation.


    The IEP contains information regarding district, state, and national assessments. This section of the IEP lists accommodations (if any) that are needed by the student during the assessment process. 

    Commitment Signatures

    The final page of the IEP is used to verify the district's offer of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). If the parent disagrees with the plan, there are additional steps that will need to be pursued.