The IEP Process
Preparing for the IEP Meeting
After a formal evaluation is conducted, the educational team reviews the results and prepares a report. Parents are sent the Parent/Guardian Notification of Conference form inviting them to a meeting at their child’s school to discuss testing results and possible eligibility for special education services. If the parents are not able to attend, they can contact the school and ask that the meeting be rescheduled. If the parents do not request a date change and do not attend the meeting, the meeting can proceed without the parents in attendance.
Generally, the school professionals who have completed evaluations attend the meeting and present their findings. If the meeting cannot be completed within the allotted time constraints, the parent and/or school can request that the meeting be reconvened at a later date. At times, students may be encouraged to attend some or all of their IEP meeting to begin developing self-advocacy skills, especially by the time they reach upper elementary grades.
Convening the Meeting
Following an introduction of all in attendance, the Student Identification Information and Parent/Guardian Information form is passed around for participants to sign in. A signature in this location provides a record of attendance at the meeting and does not indicate agreement with any decisions made during the meeting.
Each of the evaluators reviews his/her results and generally prepares a written report documenting their findings. Written and oral reports from a private evaluator can be submitted at this time. An advocate or a school representative can also participate in reviewing all information presented at this meeting. Any sections from a private evaluation that the school accepts can be entered on the Documentation of Evaluation Results form, along with evaluation data gathered by the school.
Special Note: The school has the right to accept or reject, in part or in whole, the information presented from private evaluations.
Once all evaluators have presented their testing/screening results, the team (including the parents) reviews the Eligibility Determination (All Disabilities other than Specific Learning Disability) form. The team determines if the child meets criteria for identification under the following disability categories:
Autism, Intellectual Disability, Deaf/Blindness, Deaf, Developmental Delay, Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairment, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impaired, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, Specific Learning Disability, and/or Visual Impairment Including Blindness.
The child will qualify for services if, after the team’s analysis of the testing data, and the team is able to identify one or more of these disabilities as the primary cause of the adverse affect on the child’s school performance.
Special Note: The reauthorization of IDEA 2004 and subsequent regulations by the State of Illinois has resulted in more stringent requirements for determining if a child qualifies for services under the Specific Learning Disability Classification.
If the child’s suspected disability is due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math or limited English proficiency, he/she cannot be considered to have a specific learning disability. Additionally, a child cannot be considered to have a specific learning disability if any of the following exclusionary criteria are the primary basis for the child’s difficulties:
Visual, hearing or motor disability, cognitive disability, emotional disability, cultural factors or environmental or economic disadvantages
Special Note: Next, the team determines if the child meets the following Inclusionary Criteria. There are three parts to this section and each question must be answered by all members of the team:
- Is the child progressing at a significantly slower rate than expected or is the student currently making an acceptable rate of progress but only because of the intensity of the intervention that is being provided?
- Is the child’s performance significantly below the performance of peers or expected standards?
- Are the child’s needs in any areas of concern significantly different from the needs of typical peers and of an intensity or type that exceed general education resources?
Special Note: To be eligible under the categorization of a Specific Learning Disability, the team must be able to answer “yes” to each of these questions. They also must be able to identify the school performance areas that are affected by the Specific Learning Disability, i.e., reading decoding, math calculation. If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, the child does not have a Specific Learning Disability and cannot qualify for service under this designation. All present at the meeting must then sign to indicate the report reflects his/her conclusion regarding the designation of a specific learning disability.
If eligibility in one or more disability categories has been determined, the meeting moves to the formal writing of the Individual Educational Plan (IEP). The IEP includes: the child’s strengths, present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance Form). The effects of the child’s disability on involvement and progress in the general education curriculum must be detailed as well.
The IEP team then writes Annual Goals which are specific, measurable and address the deficits identified. For each goal, the child’s current level of academic performance is stated and individual benchmarks are developed. The benchmarks are the smaller steps toward reaching the annual goal. Goals are reviewed by the service provide three or four times a year.
The Educational Accommodations and Supports form describes the specific supplementary aids, accommodations and modifications that the child receives as indicated on the IEP. Accommodations are specific adjustments made to the regular school curriculum, based on the student’s learning difficulties. The Assessment form lists the testing and other accommodations the child requires for class-based, district-wide and state-wide assessments.
Modifications are made when the general education curriculum is determined to be inappropriate for the student and an alternative curriculum is necessary. The Educational Services and Placement form explains in what areas the child will participate in the general education curriculum (with and without supplementary aids) and the amount of special education and related services the child will be receiving. Based on the IEP goals, Educational Placement is determined.
An IEP is a legal document. It is governed under IDEA, the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, which assures that services meet state and federal requirements. District 27 provides services, supports, accommodations as documented in each student’s IEP.
In brief, the IDEIA eligibility process is more involved than that required under Section 504. Instructional services, goals, services, and accommodation under the IDEIA are delineated in a plan called an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a legal document which describes the student's disability, instructional supports/accommodations, goals, related services, and other relevant educational programming information. IEPs are also reviewed annually and subject to re-evaluation for eligibility every 3-years.