Individualized Education Program (IEP) — An Overview

Education is a right, not a privilege. Many people would agree that children must be educated. Why is this important? Each individual needs to acquire knowledge and skills because these learnings will help them survive and lead productive lives. 

Formal education usually starts at a young age. The program is designed according to a child’s capacity to learn at a certain age. However, not all kids have the same learning capacity. Children with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and other physical disabilities have special needs. Therefore, their education program needs to be specially designed as well. How can kids with special needs learn the same content with other kids their age? Thanks to the special education law, namely, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); even the educational needs of students with disabilities can be provided, which includes the provision of IEP (Individualized Education Program). However, not every child with special needs is qualified for an IEP. Who are eligible? Children with special needs who are struggling to keep up with the general curriculum are eligible for an IEP after proper evaluation.

What is IEP? It is a legal written statement that indicates a specific educational program that meets a child’s learning needs. The IEP’s objective is to set attainable goals and to specify activities and services that can help achieve these goals. The law specifies the number of things that must be included in an IEP. First would be the child’s current level of learning. How is he/she performing at school? How does his/her disability affect his/her learning? Next, realistic goals to be accomplished in a year must also be written. In line with that, the IEP must also contain a report of the child’s progress towards the specified goals. Additionally, services for special education and other supplementary services including any modification in the program must be written. What’s a program without implementation? An IEP includes the expected start date, as well as the duration, frequency, and location of the implementation of services.

Who makes up the IEP? The IEP team includes the parents, a special education teacher, a general education teacher, a psychologist, and a person of authority in IEP services. It is important for parents to be involved in making the IEP since they play a major role in their child’s progress. They would be acquainted with the goals, participate in achieving those goals, and personally witness their child’s progress. At least once every year, the IEP team members meet and evaluate if they have successfully met the goals or if they need to make adjustments on the program.

IEP has proven to be beneficial especially to the students. Since the program is tailored to meet their learning needs, kids can acquire and develop skills that would help them become successful in school. It builds their self-confidence and gives parents the feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Hence, in order to fully benefit from IEP (Individualized Education Program), parents must be willing to submit their kids for evaluation and be involved in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of IEP. With this program, children with special needs can truly attest that “education is a right, and not a privilege”.