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Creating an Individualized Education Program (IEP)
The May Institute

Q: My son's teacher thinks he may have a learning disability that is making it difficult for him to learn to read. She's asked me to meet with her and some other people at the school to talk about an IEP. What can you tell me about IEPs?

A: "An IEP is an Individualized Education Program which outlines special education and related services that school districts must provide to eligible children," says Robert Putnam, Ph.D., senior vice president of consultation services for May Institute. "It includes measurable goals and outlines services the child will need to succeed in school. It also describes where and how those services will be provided."

IEPs are developed in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997 (IDEA-97) which mandates that every child in the United States with a diagnosed disability who requires special education will receive that education free of charge.

"First, your child will need to be assessed to determine if he is eligible to receive services,” explains Putnam. “You will need to make a written request to the Director of Special Education in your city/town to request that your son be assessed. With your permission, a multidisciplinary team of professionals will evaluate your son based on their observations and his performance on standardized tests. The tests will focus on his proficiency in specific school subjects such as reading and math as well as his development in the speech and language area."

The professionals on an IEP team may include a psychologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, special educator, vision or hearing specialist, and others, depending upon the specific needs of a child. Parents and teachers are also important members of any IEP team.

"After the assessment has been completed, the professionals who evaluated your son will provide written reports of their findings and their determination if your son has a disability covered under IDEA-97. These written reports must be completed within 30 days of a written request for determination of eligibility. If your child is eligible to receive services, you and the other team members will meet to decide what will go into his IEP," Putnam says.

The IEP must be developed before any special education and related services can be provided, and it should be written at this meeting and presented to you for approval within three calendar days after a child’s eligibility has been determined. Thereafter, the IEP Team committee must review it at least once a year, although a parent or teacher may request more frequent reviews.

“It is important to note that IEPs are not only for students with severe mental and/or physical disabilities. A wide range of students can benefit from an IEP, including those with learning disabilities and behavior disorders,” adds Putnam.

According to Federal requirements, an IEP must contain the following six
components:
• Statement of present levels of performances (PLOPs)
• Measurable short- and long-term goals and objectives
• Description of special education and related services to be provided
• Explanation of how and when progress will be reported
• Explanation of extent to which the child will not participate with non-disabled peers
• Statement of any individualized modifications in the state-wide or district-wide assessments

For some students, additional information must be included in the context of the IEP, such as a transition plan (for students ages 14 and older), a behavior support plan, ESL (English as a Second Language) needs, Braille communication needs, and assistive technology needs.

May Institute offers early intervention, in-home and school consultation services as well as parent and teacher workshops and training. In addition, May Institute has Positive Schoolssm, a nationally recognized school-wide behavior support program, that improves a school's climate by providing training and consultation on effective disciplinary practices and student social skills development. For more information, call
800-778-7601 or visit www.mayinstitute.org.

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