How to Write an IEP
How do you write an IEP? If you’re at this stage where you’re writing the IEP, your child has qualified for an IEP through evaluations and assessments. They have decided that the student’s disability qualifies under federally outlined statutes. And then, the team will come together to write the IEP. The IEP team sometimes goes by different names, but it’s essentially the group of people who come together for the meetings and are going to be writing the IEP. It’s usually the special education director or teacher, and the general education teacher is also involved.
First Step: Data Assessments and Creating Goals
Any therapist or healthcare provider giving therapy or services through the school, and sometimes other healthcare providers are also involved. And then sometimes, school administrators also assist in this process. The first step of writing the IEP is looking at the data and the assessments and creating goals. So, the team will make goals for that student that they feel are reasonable. And this could be behavioral goals, cognitive goals, and a plethora of things within the school environment that they think the student needs to work towards achieving. So, the plans will be set, and then progress monitoring.
Tracking Goals and Accommodations of the Student
So, how often will this team and who on the team will be tracking these goals? Is this a weekly track tracking? Or is monthly or quarterly monitoring the progress of the student? And then also, what accommodations does that student get? Again, this could be a plethora of things. It could be things within the general education classroom, like the student receiving more time for assessments. It could be that they get specific time outside of the school for special education instruction or therapy that could be provided for the student. It’s tailored to meet their needs and what the school will provide for them. So, we have goals, progress monitoring, and then accommodations. Also, when you’re writing the IEP, a summary or assessment will be attached.
So, where the student is starting from, and all the members will also be included in the IEP. They’ll be listed, their title, and how they assist that student. So, those are the basics of how to write an IEP. When it comes down to typing the document, it’s usually the special education teacher or the special education coordinator. Sometimes it’s the school administrator. It doesn’t have to be an exact person, but generally, within your district, a designated person does the actual drafting of the IEP. And then, the team, as I said, will come together to review it. If the parent disagrees with anything, they can also write comments there.
IEP is a Legal Binding Contract
If they disagree, they can also ask for things to be adjusted, and the team can then make that determination. So, that’s how you write an IEP. It looks like a contract because that’s what it is. It’s a binding document that holds the school accountable for what services, interventions, and accommodations they will grant to your student. So, you can think about it just like a legally binding contract between the school, the parents, and the student. They’re ordinarily lengthy because they will include, as I said, a lot of observations and data. All the things clearly show where the students are at and where they need to be, their goals and progress monitoring, accommodations, and how they will get there.
Is an Arizona IEP Free?
How much does an IEP cost in the state of Arizona? First, we’ll start with the cost of the parent. This one is easy. It costs the parents $0. If your student is in public school or charter school here in Arizona, the cost of the IEP is at the expense of the school.
Meeting the Needs of the Child
However, if you are trying to get your child a diagnosis or an evaluation before the IEP even starts, it’s likely that that is a cost you would incur. So, this is your healthcare provider, maybe a behavioral health specialist. If you take them to a physician who specializes in meeting your child’s needs, that would be a cost you would incur.
School’s Role in IEP Evaluation
However, the school is responsible for getting any evaluators or assessments for your child to decide if they are eligible for an IEP. The school is responsible for the cost of the educators, the team who’ll construct the IEP, to meet with the parents, and if any additional services are needed, so if you need to bring anybody into the school to provide (for example, a specialized type of therapy)— that’s the school’s cost. That’s the school’s responsibility.
It is rooted in federal statutes, federal case law, and Supreme court cases. Also, here in Arizona, federal statutes and regulations are as well. So, any cost of the IEP—which can vary depending on the student’s needs—is the school’s responsibility to meet those needs and get the evaluations needed to decide if they are eligible for an IEP.
All those costs can range greatly, but it’s the school’s responsibility to do that, not the parent’s. So, as a short answer, parents, it should cost you zero for the actual IEP itself. However, if you get any pre-evaluation or assessments done, that would be a cost you would incur.
Provide Support Staff for an IEP Student
But then, once the process of the IEP starts, any of the services the IEP requires are all responsibility of the school, and that cost can vary greatly.
Suppose support staff needs to be brought in for that student if they need aid in the general education classroom. If they need therapy, the IEP team brings in a therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapy, or a behavioral health analyst. If they need to have any adaptations for their environment, this could make classrooms more accessible to them.
What are the Components of an IEP in Arizona
What are the components of an IEP in Arizona? First, an IEP stands for an Individualized Education Plan.
What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?
IEP is a legally binding document codified in state and federal statutes. If a student is eligible for special education or other education or modifications within the school, they are legally granted those and not discriminated against.
Let’s talk about this. Say a parent has requested an IEP, the student has been evaluated and assessed, and they are eligible for an IEP. You sit down for the IEP meeting, in which a parent or guardian is included.
Individualized Education Plan Components
So, let’s discuss the components of the IEP.
We’ll start first with the goals. There will be goals that the student is expected to hit. They might be academic, behavioral, or emotional. They may be short-term, and they may be long-term. It varies and depends on the student’s needs, but there are goals. So, what are we all expecting of the student?
Progress Level Monitoring of the Child’s Goals
Next, after the goals, there will be information on where the child is and where they are achieving their level at the moment. Again, this might be academic, emotional, or behavioral, and we need to know where the student is currently. So, we have the goal, where they are, and how they will get there. It is the progress monitoring of the goals.
Student’s Accommodation | Special Education Services Provision
So, how will they be assessed, how often, and is there an end or a start date? They’re going to get specific on that. Also, what actual accommodation is the student going to receive? It might be special education being pulled out. It could be in the classroom, additional services, or therapy coming to the school.
Again, there are just so many things, and it’s very fact sensitive, but overall, what sort of accommodation will this student receive? How often? For what duration? And what is it that’s going to be happening?
Frequency of the Student’s Re-evaluation and Assessment
Again, this is important because an IEP is a legally binding document, meaning the school and all of the staff have to abide by this. So, that’s important. What services or accommodation is the student going to receive? Also, how frequently are they going to be monitored, and how? We have spoken about that before.
Also, on an annual review, there’ll be a statement of how the student is doing. Have they reached those goals and feel they’re on the right track? Do the goals or services need to be reassessed? And then, every three years, the student will be reevaluated. Then the process starts over or is carried over depending on how the assessment goes. So, those are the main components of an IEP.
IEP Components in Arizona
To summarize, you have goals for the future and progress monitoring—so, how often will you be testing or assessing that student to see if they’re hitting their goals? How are they going to get there? What services or accommodations will the school handle in the regular classroom and outside of the classroom?
Will they bring in other help, such as therapy or other accommodations? Also, where the student started, their initial assessment, and an annual report, where you’ll see how they’ve made progress, the plan, and if they need reassessment.
So, we can break it down into:
- What are the needs of the student?
- What are the goals, and how are we getting there?
- Are we there, or do we need more evaluations?
- Do we need more accommodations?
And those are monitored on an annual basis. And then again, at three years, the student is reassessed. And everyone must comply with an IEP. Furthermore, it is a legally binding document. That’s why it’s so important to have those components that give the student the best opportunity, environment, and accommodations to succeed within their environment.