What is an Individualized Education Program?
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP.
The IEP has two general purposes:
- to set reasonable learning goals for your child
- to state the services that the school district will provide for your child
Steps in the Special Education Process
- Eligibility for Special Education
- Individualized Educational Program (IEP)
There are many clues that your child may be having difficulty learning. Some disabilities affect hearing or vision. Others may affect speech or communication skills. Still, others may be less visible but still affect learning.
If your child is having difficulty, your school may first suggest some interventions, such as an SST or COST.
Student Success Team (SST)
According to Education Code 56303, a Student Success Team (SST) is a general education function. An SST meeting is held when a parent and/or staff member feels a student’s learning, speech and language acquisition, behavior and/or emotional needs are not being met under existing circumstances. The purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity for parents and school staff to share concerns and ideas with various professionals and develop strategies to help the student in his or her area(s) of need. If the student is not responding to the initial interventions made in the general education setting, the SST reconvenes to review the reasons for lack of progress and identify next steps. It is important to note that one outcome of the SST process may be referral for special education evaluation.
Coordination of Services Team (COST)
Coordination of Services Team is a general education programmatic function within SLUSD. It is the learning support structure that brings together support service providers at a school site. The COST develops and monitors programs and resources that enhance prevention and intervention efforts contributing to student success. The COST focuses on referred students and coordinates respective programs and services to promote their academic success. This team assembles at elementary, middle, and high school levels district-wide. COST referral processes are to be followed at the site level.
Evaluation & Re-Evaluations
Each child referred for assessment receives a full and individual evaluation to identify area(s) of disability, determine eligibility, and assess educational needs. The assessment information provides the basis for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to ensure the individual receives a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
Before the determination of eligibility for special education services, qualified persons conduct an individual assessment of the pupil’s educational needs.
Once eligible for special education services, each student is reevaluated at least every three years but not more than once a year. If, after a review of student’s records, no additional data is necessary to determine eligibility or educational needs, the district is not required to conduct a formal assessment except at parent request (EC 56381). The purposes of a triennial reevaluation include:
- Accountability. Reevaluations analyze the effectiveness of the student’s IEP and include a review of progress. Data may include grades, school discipline records, curriculum-based measures, norm-based measures, and any previous assessment data. Lack of progress stimulates IEP changes (curriculum, instructional techniques, behavioral strategies, or the educational environment) or a reassessment of the nature of the disability.
- Planning. Evaluation information is used to determine if special education services require modification for the child to meet annual goals and participate, as appropriate, in the general curriculum. Factors such as behavior, current skill levels, and communication ability are considered. Future needs must be addressed, especially at transition points in the child’s educational program. Transition planning addresses eligibility criteria, community living skills, vocational training, and/or plans for post-secondary education.
- Qualification. A complete re-evaluation is conducted in the event:
- A parent or teacher requests assessment in areas of suspected disability
- The child may no longer have a disability requiring special education or related services
- The child may be eligible for additional related services
- The child is not making educational progress
A pupil qualifies as an individual with exceptional needs if the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team decides, based on assessment results, that the degree of the pupil’s impairment requires special education in one or more of the program options authorized by Education Code. The IEP team must take into account all relevant data that is available on the pupil. No single score or product of scores may be used as the sole criterion for the decision as to the pupil’s eligibility for special education. A child may not be determined to have a disability if the determinant factor is lack of instruction in reading or math, or limited English proficiency.
Three primary factors are considered in determining eligibility for special education:
- Does the pupil meet the eligibility criteria as an individual with a disability?
- Does the severity of the disability have an adverse effect on the pupil’s educational performance?
- Does the pupil require special education and related services to access a free and appropriate public education?
Students who have been diagnosed with Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) may qualify for special education services if they also meet eligibility under one of the disability categories, such as Specific Learning Disability, Other Health Impaired, or Emotional Disturbance.
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), pupils may qualify for special education and related services under one or more of the following qualifying conditions:
IDEA’s Categories of Disability
- Emotional Disturbance
- Hearing Impairment
- Intellectual Disability
- Multiple Disabilities
- Orthopedic impairment
- Other health impairment
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment
Individualized Education Program
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement for each individual with exceptional needs that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with state and federal laws.
The IEP Meeting
- The IEP Team meets when any of the following occurs:
- A student receives a formal assessment
- A student’s placement or instruction is to be initiated, changed, or discontinued
- A student demonstrates a lack of anticipated progress
- A parent or teacher requests a review of the IEP
- At least annually to review the IEP
- At least every three years to reevaluate eligibility for special education
- Within 30 days if a student with an existing special education placement transfers into SLUSD from a district outside the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)
- Within 60 days of receipt of signed parental consent for assessment
- As part of disciplinary proceedings related to suspension/expulsion of a student with disabilities