18 PARTS OF AN IEP - Part 1



The annotated IEP document reaches 40 pages with no information about the student yet, so it is not surprising that some parents find it to be daunting and intimidating.  That is why we want to make sure you are aware of, not only each part of the IEP, but also of what the purpose of that part is and how the parts all come together to create learning opportunities for each child.


1) Five Special Factors

  • The IEP team must consider all 5 factors in the development, review, and revision of each child’s IEP before development. The IEP team must determine if any of these factors are relevant for the child and, if so, address the factor in the child’s IEP.
    • Behavior that impedes the child’s learning or that of others, and the development and use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior
    • Limited English proficiency, and consider the language needs of the child
    • Blind or visual impairment, and consideration of instruction in braille and the use of reading and writing skills, needs, appropriate reading, and writing media
    • Deafness or hard of hearing communication needs, consider the language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode, academic level, and the full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode
    • Assistive technology needs for devices and services


2) Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance

  • A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum
    • Child’s current baselines and how they are doing in school
    • All areas of educational need should be addressed
    • Areas of strengths and competency-based information
    • It should describe how the disability affects performance in class, school, and community
    • It should include present levels of achievement related to the most recent evaluations, results of formative assessments, curriculum-based assessments, transition assessments, results from a functional behavioral assessment, and results of ecological assessments
    • It should also include present levels of achievement related to current post-secondary transition goals (if the student's age is 14 or younger if determined appropriate))
    • Progress toward current goals. This does NOT include “they are progressing” without data.


3) Parental Concerns for Enhancing the Education of The Student

  • Note that it is parent input to the IEP of ____ date
  • That as a parent you have specific knowledge of the child that must be considered by the team to develop an appropriate IEP.
  • Parent concerns will help drive the goals and services
  • What is working and what is not working educationally, functionally, socially, behaviorally
  • Levels of independence on mastered goals
  • Generalization across environments
  • Wins
  • Update any health information and health concerns
  • Recommendations to the team
  • Any requests for programming changes and why
  • New Areas of need that the school identified, that you agree with.
  • Areas of need that were not identified, that you wish to include or ask for an evaluation
  • Rate of progress concerns
  • Data to support requests
  • Independence with homework
  • Behavioral concerns
  • Priorities
  • Understanding of concepts
  • Communication issues
  • Regression or skills lost
  • Peer issues to be addressed
  • New or relative strengths or interests
  • Issues that prevent your child from accessing their education, having meaningful progress commensurate with their ability, addressing unwritten rules that they do not know
  • Issues the school should have known about or knew about


4) How Disability Affects Involvement and Progress in The Curriculum

  • An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class, extracurricular, and nonacademic activities
  • The extent of nonparticipation is related to the principle of least restrictive environment- LRE and inclusion.
  • Where a child spends his or her time at school,
  • How services are provided, and
  • The relationships the child develops within the school and community.
  • To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are non-disabled; and
  • Special classes, separate schooling, or other removals of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.


5) List of Areas of Strengths

  • A strength or relative strength or interests and preferences. IEPs use student abilities to help work on areas of academic and functional needs as motivators.
  • IEP goals are built around what the student can do and how the team can use those abilities to address areas of need. So, they should show up in the SDIs.
  • Identify and leverage their strengths, interests, and preferences to improve self-awareness and self-advocacy.
  • It requires gathering more information from students as to what they do well and reinforcement to students
  • Address self-awareness and what do they know about themselves and have them share that in IEP meetings
  • Use in hard/easy instruction to reduce fatigue or shut down
  • Discover by asking in every goal area of the IEP – What do they do well in math, reading, science, writing and what area are you measuring in the IEP as an area of need vs a strength. (reading – phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension )


6) Academic, Developmental, and Functional NEEDS

  • These should reflect at minimum the areas of academic, developmental, and functional needs related to the student’s disability listed in the evaluation report done by the school district.
  • Areas of need identified by the IEP team
  • Areas of need have to be addressed in either a goal or SDI
  • Areas being addressed in the IEP


7) Transition Services

  • For students not older than 14 (and may be earlier) as they approach the end of their secondary school education, the IEP must also include statements about what is called transition services, which are designed to help youth with disabilities prepare for life after high school.
    • IDEA requires that beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team, the IEP must include:
    • Measurable post-secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills
    •  Transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.
    • If the student does not attend the IEP meeting, the school must take other steps to ensure that the student’s preferences and interests are considered.
    • Transition services are a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the student with a disability to facilitate the student’s movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation that is based on the individual student’s needs taking into account the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests.
    • List service or activity, location, frequency, beginning, and end dates and individual responsible


8) Post School Goals –

  • Based on the age-appropriate assessment, define and project the appropriate measurable post-secondary goals that address education and training, employment, and as needed, independent living. Under each area, list the services/activities and courses of study that support that goal. Include for each service/activity the location, frequency, projected beginning date, anticipated duration, and person/agency responsible.


9) Participation in State and Local Assessment

  • Identification of accommodations or alternatives to assessments that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and district-wide assessments
    • the IEP must include a statement of why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment and why the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child


This is the 1st of 2 blogs addressing multiple aspects of the IEP process.  Make sure you SUBSCRIBE to the blog so you do not miss any of them.

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Marie Lewis is an author, consultant, and national speaker on best practices in education advocacy. She is a parent of 3 children and a Disability Case Manager, Board Certified Education Advocate, and Behavior Specialist Consultant. She has assisted in the development of thousands of IEPs nationally and consults on developing appropriately individualized IEPs that are outcome based vs legally sufficient. She brings a great depth of expertise, practical experience, and compassion to her work as well as expert insight, vision, and systemic thinking. She is passionate and funny and she always inspires and informs.


MJ Gore has an MEd in counseling and a degree in elementary education and natural sciences. She worked as a life-skills and learning support teacher She has been honored with the receipt of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She is the Director and on the faculty at the National Special Education Advocacy Institute. Her passion is social justice, especially in the area of education. She is a Board Certified Education Advocate who teaches professional advocates, educators, and clinicians the best practices in education advocacy.

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