Individual Education Plan (IEP)

The Individual Educational Plan (IEP) is a written plan that describes the individual learning needs of a student with disabilities and the ESE services, supports, aids and accommodations or modifications that will be provided to that student.

The IEP meeting refers to the meeting that the IEP team holds to write the IEP. The IEP team must meet at least once a year to review the IEP to determine whether the annual goals are being achieved. The IEP may be revised, as appropriate, to address any lack of expected progress, the results of any re-evaluations, information about the student provided by the parent, the student’s anticipated needs, or other matters. Parents must approve any changes to IEP goals. In addition to the required annual IEP team meeting, changes can be made to the IEP during an IEP team meeting held after the annual meeting, or, with the agreement of the parent and the district, without convening the IEP team.

Preparation for the IEP Meeting

Preparing for the IEP helps ensure the meeting is productive and guides the student to his or her desired post-school goals. Discuss goals and desires for the future with the student and their family before the meeting. Students may be prepared to lead parts of the IEP meeting. IEP team members can facilitate appropriate ways for students to exercise leadership during the IEP meetings.

Students and families can prepare for the meeting by collecting their ideas about the student’s strengths, needs, interests and other relevant information.

What’s Different about the Transition Components of the IEP?

The process of developing an IEP which includes transition services is a bit different than a traditional IEP because there are additional sections to the IEP. These differences are explained below.

Notice of the Meeting

The notice about the IEP meeting once a student reaches age 14 is different than the notice received about IEP meetings when students were younger.
In addition to the information required for all IEP meeting notices, the written notices for the IEP to be in effect at ages 14 and 15 must state the following:

  • The purpose of the meeting is to identify the transition services needs of the student.
  • The student will be invited to the meeting.

For IEP meetings to develop the IEP to be in effect at age 16 and older, the notices must state the following:

  • The purpose of the meeting will be consideration of postsecondary goals and transition services.
  • The student will be invited to the meeting.
  • Additional participating agencies that may be responsible for providing or paying for transition services will be invited with parental consent.

Participants

People who must be invited to the IEP meeting are:
  • Student
  • Parent
  • One or more of the student’s general education teachers, if the student is or will be participating in the general education environment
  • A representative of the school district
  • A representative of any other agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services (if the student is age 16 or older, with consent)
  • Any other person that students, families, the school, or an agency believe has knowledge of the student or special equipment used by the student

The student must be invited to participate in IEP meetings beginning with the meeting to develop the IEP to be in effect at age 14. If the student is not able to attend the meeting, the IEP team must take steps to make sure the student’s preferences, needs and interests are taken into consideration.

If an agency invited to attend an IEP meeting is unable to participate in person, the school district may consider other options such as participating by conference call or web/virtual conferences. If an agency agrees to provide services but does not do so, the IEP team will need to meet again to find other ways to meet the student’s transition needs.

Transition Components of the IEP

  • This section describes some of the requirements related to the transition components in the IEP.
  • For IEPs developed to be in effect by the time the student turns age 14 and for age 15, the process must also include but is not limited to:
  • Notice that the purpose of the IEP meeting will be to identify the student’s transition services needs and that he/she was invited to attend the IEP meeting.
  • Documentation of the student’s strengths, preferences and interests, as well as steps taken if he/she does not attend the IEP meeting.
  • A statement regarding the course of study (description of instructional program and experiences, reviewed and updated annually) leading to a standard diploma.
  • Preparation for the student to graduate from high school with a standard high school diploma, including a Scholar or Merit designation.
  • Appropriate transition services.
  • Information about the student’s need for instruction in the area of self-determination and self-advocacy to assist him/her with participating in the IEP meeting and developing postsecondary goals.
  • Parental consent must be obtained prior to inviting an agency to attend the student’s IEP meeting.
  • Documentation that the IEP team reconvened to identify alternative strategies if an agency failed to provide services indicated in the IEP.
  • Discussion of postsecondary goals, including career goals.

For IEPs developed to be in effect when the student turns age 16 and older the process must also include, but is not limited to:

  • Notice that the purpose of the IEP meeting will include consideration of the postsecondary goals and transition services for the student and that he/she was invited to attend the IEP meeting, and that relevant agencies were invited to send a representative.
  • Consent from a parent (or the student, if reached the age of majority) must be obtained prior to inviting an agency to attend the student’s IEP meeting.
  • Documentation of the student’s strengths, preferences and interests, as well as steps taken if he/she does not attend the IEP meeting.
  • The student’s intention to receive a standard high diploma before he/she attains the age of 22 and a description of how the requirements will be met.
  • A statement regarding the course of study leading to a standard diploma.
  • Indication about whether the student will pursue a Scholar and/or Merit diploma designation, as determined by the parent (or the student, if she or he has reached the age of majority).
  • The outcomes and additional benefits expected by the parent and the IEP team at the time of the student’s graduation, including discussion of deferring receipt of the standard diploma in order to pursue post-graduate opportunities/training as established under Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
  • Documentation reflecting consideration of the student’s need for self-determination and self-advocacy instruction and/or information.
  • Appropriate measurable long-term postsecondary education and career goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, if appropriate, independent living skills.
  • Transition services in each of the needed transition services activity areas that focus on improving the student’s academic and functional achievement.
  • Annual IEP goals related to the student’s transition services needs and aligned to postsecondary goals.
  • Documentation that the IEP team reconvened to identify alternative strategies if an agency failed to provide the services indicated in the IEP.

Although the following items may be on an IEP, they can also be documented in a separate form:

  • At least one year before the student reaches the age of 18 (age of majority), a statement that he/she has been informed of the rights that will transfer to him/her upon reaching the age of 18
  • A separate and distinct notice to the parent, and the student, regarding transfer of rights when the student attains his/her 18th birthday (and all other notices required by IDEA are continued)

Resources

Developing Quality Individual Educational Plans: A Guide for Instructional Personnel and Families (2015
Pprovide[s] information that will support the development of quality individual educational plans (IEPs) for students with disabilities. A quality IEP is in compliance with all requirements of state and federal laws and regulations and reflects decisions based on the active and meaningful involvement of all members of the IEP team. The IEP provides a clear statement of expected outcomes and the special education services and supports to be provided to the student" (page 1). The guide (pdf) was funded by the Florida Department of Education.