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  • Writer's pictureKristina Riffle

Your Child's Individualized Education Plan

It’s that time of year again- time for you to meet with the educational team that works with your child to come up with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This meeting can be emotional for many parents; after all, you are discussing what your child is struggling with in school. You know the IEP will help your child, but it can be hard to accept that your child actually needs it. You also might be utterly confused by the amount of jargon used to describe your child’s needs.

I am here to help you dissect and understand the important parts of the IEP that you will want to focus on during the meeting.

Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP): The PLAAFP describes the levels that your child is performing in every academic subject and functional performance area. The PLAAFP has input and data from teachers of all subjects, therapists, and other educational professionals that are working with your child. There will be a summary explaining your child’s strengths and weaknesses in each area and how their disability affects their involvement in the general education curriculum. The PLAAFP will help determine your child’s goals and schedule of services. There should be a goal for every area of need in the PLAAFP.

Goals and Objectives: Every area of need that was identified in the PLAAFP requires a goal in your child’s IEP. Each annual goal will be measurable and follows a timeline. Each goal should have objectives that break down the goal in steps (i.e. objective 1: 60%, objective 2: 70%, objective 3: 80%). If your child is in a self-contained special education classroom, they should have a goal in every subject area. The teacher will also list how they will measure the progress towards the annual goal and how often progress reports/ report cards will be issued to the parents.

Accommodations and Modifications: This section of your child’s IEP will determine what your child needs in order to be successful to access the general education curriculum. An accommodation changes how a student learns the material. A modification changes what a student is taught or expected to learn. Common accommodations are oral administration, multiplication chart, extra time, small group administration, large print, verbal redirection, visual schedule, specialized seating, etc. Common modifications are alternate text at appropriate reading level, reword questions on the assignment, align grade-level content vertically at an appropriate level for the child determined by the PLAAFP (fifth grader working at first-grade level will do first-grade math word problems instead of fifth-grade word problems).

Schedule of Services and Related Services: Your child will have some sort of special education support (in a general education or special education classroom) for each goal they have in their IEP. The schedule of services will be broken down by academic, vocational, behavioral support, along with needed therapies, assistive technology, and others. The schedule will lay out how much of the school day your child will be educated separately from nondisabled children.

State Assessment: The IEP will determine how your child will participate in state and district-wide assessments (alternative, modified, regular, etc. depending on what your state offers). This section will also state what accommodations will be needed for your child to be successful during these assessments (oral administration, small group administration, individual administration, large print, etc.)

Transition Planning: Beginning no later than your child’s sixteenth birthday (and younger, if appropriate), the IEP must contain transition-related plans designed to help the student prepare for life after secondary school.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): If your child’s PLAAFP determines they have behavior needs, the IEP team will probably come up with a BIP. This plan tells the school staff how to interact with your child during their problem behaviors, what your child may need to calm down, and what consequences can be used. The BIP is a vital tool for teachers and can make a classroom environment go from a disaster to success when followed.

Do you have questions about your child’s IEP? Do you need help navigating the world of special education? Send us an email at, we would love to help you!

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