What is an ‘IEP’?

You may have heard of the acronym ‘IEP’ but as with other educational jargon, you might not know exactly what it entails. IEP stands for Individual Education Plan (or in the U.S. Individualized Education Program) and it is essentially a legally binding working document that outlines the special education services and accommodations (or modifications) that an identified student is entitled to receive at school.

Exceptional students are identified by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) comprised of teachers, counsellors and school administrators. The parent(s) – or guardian(s) – can request an IPRC meeting for their child – or ward – and are encouraged to attend with the identified student. At the IPRC meeting, the students’ strengths and needs are discussed with the intention of implementing a special education program or service to suit the needs of the student.

An IEP generally includes a student’s placement. There are a range of placement options that vary depending on how the students’ needs are to be accommodated. The options include being placed in a regular classroom with indirect support, with resource assistance, or with withdrawal assistance. Alternatively the student may be placed in a special education class. The IEP also lists the services recommended for a student, such as a one-on-one aide, academic and behavioural goals, and progress reports from teachers and therapists. An IEP delineates learning expectations that are modified from or alternative to the curriculum expectations for each course. In addition, the IEP outlines accommodations required by students to assist them in achieving the expectations set for a course.

 According to the Ministry of Education’s document, Standards for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation (2000), IEPs are intended to aid teachers in monitoring students’ progress; this document offers a framework for communicating information about the student’s progress to parents and to the student. IEPs are updated periodically to accommodate changes in the students special education program. For examples, the services that are deemed necessary to the student may need to be altered based on the ongoing assessment and evaluation of the students’ learning and the achievement of learning expectations.

Stay tuned for a follow up blog outlining the various accommodations available to exceptional students with IEPs.

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